Home > Mortgages > How to Choose the Low Down Payment Mortgage That’s Right For You

Comments 0 Comments

Low down payment mortgage loans have been around much longer than most people realize. The Federal Housing Administration  loan requiring just 3.5% down reemerged in 2008, but today, loans backed by the government requiring even less down are becoming popular. Here are the different kinds of low-down-payment loans available and what you should know about each.

1. FHA Loans

These are loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration that require just a 3.5% down payment and are incredibly flexible on financial history, credit history, and debt-to-income ratios. It is the most widely known low down payment program available in the market, is incredibly popular, and is virtually limitless in terms of the property type, income and location. Learn more about FHA loans here.

2. Conventional Loans

Some conventional loans require just 5% down, and in some cases as little as 3% down based on the per-capita-income in the area in which the property is located.

3. USDA Loans

This loan requires no down payment whatsoever and has income limitations and specific area locations. The program is only available in certain areas that are deemed agricultural by the U.S. department of agriculture.

4. VA

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees loans for up to 100% loan-to-value with absolutely no money down. This is hands down the best program in the low down payment arena. The program is available to U.S. military veterans and their spouses only.

5. Down Payment Assistance

Some state-specific programs allow homebuyers to put as little as $500 down to purchase a home. For example, in the state of California, a grant is provided for up to 5% of the loan amount, which can go toward the down payment and closing costs.

6. One-Percent Loans  

Some lenders are starting to offer mortgages for as little as 1% and, in some cases, even no money down with grants that need not be repaid. These loans are backed by Fannie Mae, and the lender bears the risk. You can bank on income limitations and needing good credit scores for such programs.

Keep in mind that the better the loan program you have, and the more down payment you have, the better your chances of getting into contract. Plus, most of the low down payment loan programs available in the marketplace today, except for FHA and a traditional 5% down conventional loan, have income limitations. Income limitations mean your borrowing power in a certain geographic area is limited. Whereas, if you could use a 3.5%-down FHA loan or a 5%-down conventional, for example, your odds of getting into contract would be far greater because your borrowing power would be kicked up a couple of notches.

Here Is some homework to consider:

  • Do you have a down payment? If yes, where do those funds come from? Have you talked to your family about the possibility of getting gift funds for a down payment? You might be surprised by how generous your family could be.
  • If your down payment is very limited, get an honest answer from your real estate agent and lender about your ability to perform in this marketplace and what it would take to make you stronger on paper.
  • Get your financial house in order. That means checking your credit scores — you can see two for free on Credit.com. (the better your credit, the more home you can typically qualify for and the lower your interest rate will be), compiling your recent W-2s, pay stubs, and bank statements so you have enough information to provide to a lender.

Do not accept a lender giving you a just a pre-qualification letter. You want to be pre-approved. Any lender that will not give you a pre-approval letter is a lender that is more concerned about their policies than they are getting you into a home.

Image: Ivanko_Brnjakovic

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team