Friday, August 21, 2015 / by Vanessa Saunders
Here are 10 sources of down payment money:
1. Down-payment assistance programs You might be surprised how many programs exist to help buyers – especially first-time homebuyers. RealtyTrac counts 2,290 down-payment-assistance programs across the country. See its map of the markets where most help is available. One way to find them is through Down Payment Resource, which calls itself “a Web-based software company with a mission to connect people with hard-to-find financial resources.”The site takes your address or city, estimated annual income and number of people in your household. It asks if you are an armed services veteran or Native American. It delivers a list of programs for which you may be eligible, links to details and contact information for participating lenders in your area.Or, look for programs near you by typing “down payment assistance programs” and your city’s name into a search engine. Income requirements typically apply, but check to learn if you are eligible.If you are a veteran, you may be able to buy a home with no down payment.
2. Set up a dedicated account Get going by setting up an account that pays the most interest possible while letting you access your savings. If you’ll be tempted to divert the money to other needs, set up an account solely for the down payment. We always suggest comparison shopping and have some great local lenders for you to start off with. Get in touch by email or text and we'll be glad to share.
3. Put savings on auto pilot Saving is painless and virtually unnoticeable when you establish an automatic draw that pulls money monthly, twice monthly or weekly from your checking account.
4. Dedicate windfalls and pay bumps Pledge to put every single tax refund, gift of cash, purchase refund and work bonus into your down-payment account.
5. Stash every raise When you earn a raise at work, carry on as if it never happened. Have the difference between your old and new paychecks funneled automatically into your down-payment savings.
6. Sell your stuff Sell your possessions for cash to fatten your account. Money Talks News is full of inspiration and tips about how and where to make the most money selling your things. 7 Tips for Having a Killer Garage Sale
7. Sell your car Pump up your savings fast by disposing of assets that have real value, like a car, boat, motorcycle or expensive sports equipment. Do without or replace the car with a cheap beater.
8. Sell taxable investments If you are going to sell investments to raise money for your down payment, cash in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other taxable investments before touching money held in tax-deferred retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s. Those carry stiff penalties for selling before retirement age. Dip into retirement savings with your eyes wide open: Read What You Need to Know Before Raiding Your Retirement Plan.
9. Get help from family Rules differ by lenders on whether and how much help you can get from gifts for your down payment. One example: The FHA lets borrowers apply gifts from immediate family members toward a down payment. You’ll be required to produce a “gift letter” from the giver, verifying that the money is not actually a loan. You’ll probably also need to show copies of checks or wire transfers so your lender can verify the origin of the gift. The Washington Post discusses the complexities of family gifts.
10. Ask your employer Some companies, colleges, universities and state or local governments have programs to help employees with down payments. Ask your human-resources department about possibilities where you work. Firefighters, law enforcement personnel and teachers often are eligible for down-payment help. And don’t forget, when negotiating for a job, you may be able to ask your new employer to include down-payment assistance as part of your compensation package — as a signing bonus or relocation assistance.