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3% Down Payment Mortgage for First-Time Homebuyers

Many homebuyers have a hard time juggling everyday expenses while saving for a down payment or closing costs. Rent, utilities, car payments, student loans, and credit cards, not to mention groceries, can sometimes drain your bank account as quickly as money is deposited.

Considering all of that, it's no surprise that saving for a home is one of the biggest hurdles to actually buying a home. But that doesn't have to be your experience. Today's buyers have mortgage options that require down payments well below 20% of the home's purchase price. In many cases you can buy a home with just 3% down.

There are also buyer assistance programs that may help cover your down payment and possibly closing costs. Funding from those programs often can be combined with financial gifts from your family and friends to reduce your out-of-pocket costs to buy a home.

How Does It Work?

First-time homebuyers who can't afford a large down payment but would otherwise qualify for a home loan may be eligible for a 3% down payment mortgage. If you're good at managing your credit and meet certain requirements, this could be the option for you.

A mortgage lender can provide the specifics, assess your financial situation, and determine eligibility. But before you contact a lender, consider these initial requirements:

  1. At least one person on the loan must be a first-time homebuyer. (In this case, "first-time homebuyer" means that you haven't owned any residential property in the past three years. Or, if you're buying the home with someone else, at least one of you hasn't owned a home in the past three years.)
  2. The home being financed must be a one-unit property (including townhomes, condos, co-ops, and PUDs) and not a manufactured home.
  3. You plan to occupy the home as your primary residence; and
  4. The mortgage must have a fixed rate (adjustable rate mortgages [ARMs] are not eligible for the 3% down payment mortgage).

Get Started

If you're having a tough time saving a down payment, research buyer assistance options to determine if any could help. Also contact a lender to see if this 3% down option can get you into a home sooner.

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