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Your Savings and Down Payment

Your First Step Toward Buying a Home

When preparing to buy a home, the first thing many homebuyers do is look at the real estate ads in newspapers, magazines and listings on the Internet. Some potential buyers read how-to articles like this one. The next thing you should do - before you call on an ad, before you talk to a REALTOR®, before you shop for interest rates - is look at your savings.

Why?

Because determining how much money you have available for down payment and closing costs affects almost every aspect of buying a home - including how you write your purchase offer, the loan programs you qualify for, and shopping for interest rates.

Mortgage Programs

If you only have enough available for a minimum down payment, your choices of loan program will be limited to only a few types of mortgages. If someone is giving you a gift for all or part of the down payment, your options are also limited. If you have enough for the down payment, but need the lender or seller to cover all or part of your closing costs, this further limits your options. If you borrow all or a portion of the down payment from your 401K or retirement plan, different loan programs have different rules on how you qualify.

Of course, if you have enough for a large down payment, then you have lots of choices.

Your loan choices include such varied programs as conventional fixed rate loans, adjustable rate mortgages, buydowns, VA, FHA, graduated payment mortgages and all the varieties of each.

Shopping for Rates

A very important reason you need to have at least some idea of your down payment is for shopping for interest rates. Some loan programs charge a slightly higher interest rate for minimal down payments. Plus, the interest rates for different loan programs are not the same. For example, conventional, VA, and FHA all offer fixed rate loans. However, the rates vary from one program to another.

If you shop lenders by phone, the loan officer will be able to tell you which programs fit and quote your rates accordingly. However, if you are shopping on the Internet, you have to develop some idea of your loan program on your own.

Writing Your Offer

Another reason you need to have a clue about your down payment is because it affects how you write your offer to purchase a home. Not only are you required to put your down payment information in the offer, but also different loan programs have different rules that also affect how you write your offer. This is especially important when dealing with FHA and VA loans.

If you are asking the seller to pay all or part of your closing costs, you have to be certain your loan program allows what you are asking. For smaller down payments, lenders allow the seller to pay less closing costs than for larger down payments. Some loan programs will allow a seller to pay certain types of costs, but not others.

Finally, your down payment also affects your ability to qualify for a loan. When you make a small down payment, lenders are fairly strict about having you conform to their underwriting guidelines. For larger down payments, they will tend to make allowances or exceptions to the rules.

Conclusion

As you can see, the down payment affects every choice you make when you buy a home. Although you should look at ads, familiarize yourself with neighborhoods, learn about prices, and read as much as you can - when you get ready to take action - the first thing you should do is figure out how much money you have available for the purchase.

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Testimonials Page

Melissa Oliver was such a delight to work with, she had such a great energy and realism about her. And she walked us through the process every step of the way. And always had our best interest at heart. We trusted her advise and insight she really know what its all about. We are so glad she was there for us and would use her again if needed. Mimi Rajnak
What a great buying experience!! Melissa and the "O" team were amazing and we can't give them enough praise for their efforts. They were very quick to respond to our needs and were on top of the process the whole way. We found the home of our dreams and we have the "O" team to thank!! Visit their office, you wont be disappointed. Josh R.
Melissa is a Real Estate professional serving the Mother Lode Communities with top quality service and expertise. Her understanding of the local market is second to none and her ability to help buyers and sellers both is outstanding. Thanks you Melissa, for being a part of my experience. Rick Daniel
Definitely recommend Melissa and her team..great real estate agent!!! Sylvie Williams
Melissa has come though for me in all my real estate needs..Always going far beyond my expectations!!! She knows the area like the back of her hand...Should be anyones first choice here in the Motherlode! John Chiarpotti
Very knowledgeable and experienced. Would strongly recommend her to anyone with any real estate needs. Hands down the best Realtor in the county! Jacob Ramsey
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