Buyer Tips Down Payment Assistance Programs

5 Down Payment Myths Debunked

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Many of our first-time homebuyer clients are not aware of the wide variety of financing options, such as down payment assistance available to them. We saw this as a clear opportunity to both educate and debunk common down payment myths that might be keeping buyers on the sidelines longer than necessary.

So, what is a down payment?

A home down payment is simply the part of a home’s purchase price that you pay up front and does not come from a mortgage lender via a loan. Suppose you want to buy a house for $400,000. For example- If you bring $12,000 towards the purchase price, or put 3% down, the mortgage lender provides $388,000.

Ok, not let’s clear up a few myths concerning down payments…

Myth #1: You need 20% down to buy a home.

Many new and potential homebuyers believe a large down payment is not required to purchase a home. In fact, there are many low down payment loans and programs available.

Having at least three months of mortgage payments is better measure of homeownership success than a large down payment. There are a wide range of homeownership programs that can help you with the down payment and closing costs to allow you to maintain a valuable cash cushion.

Myth #2: Down payment assistance is only for first-time homebuyers.

People often associate homeownership programs with first-time homebuyers, but eligibility is actually broader. The official definition of a first-time homebuyer — according to HUD — is someone who has not owned a home in three years. 

Approximately 41% of homeownership programs do not have a first-time homebuyer requirement and are available for eligible repeat homebuyers.

Myth #3: Down payment programs aren’t available in my area.

Down payment programs are available in every market across the country. Nearly 70% of programs are available in a specific local area, such as a city, county or neighborhood and 30% of programs are available state-wide through state housing finance agencies.

The states with the greatest number of down payment programs remain consistent —California, Florida and Texas are the top three with Maryland being #4 and the District of Columbia being #35.

Funded Programs14
% with Funds Available95%96%
Down Payment Program Data By State

Myth #4: It’s too expensive to buy a home in my market.

Down payment assistance is available in every market, including high cost areas in the District and Maryland.

Approximately, 11% of these programs offer incentives and even specific programs for educators and first responders, including police officers, firefighters, and healthcare workers.

More than 6% of the available programs have benefits for veterans, members of the military and surviving spouses. These programs can also be layered with zero down payment VA loans.

One-to-four unit multi-family properties can also qualify for down payment help. Twenty-five percent of programs allow buyers to purchase a multi-family property as long as the buyer occupies one of the units, which allows the homeowner to earn income from their rental units to help pay the mortgage.

Myth #5: Down payment programs make home financing more difficult.

Across the country, there are 2,451 homeownership programs available and 83% currently have funds available to eligible homebuyers. Exploring home financing options should be the first step for prospective buyers, however, you don’t have to go it alone — We’ve got your back!

Down Payment Assistance
Down Payment Assistance

By Dana Ash-McGinty

Dana Ash-McGinty is the Principal Broker of ASH | MCGINTY, a Washington, DC Real Estate Brokerage. This real estate maven has 15+ years experience in residential, commercial and land sales in addition to multi-state residential renovation, re-zoning, and condo conversion projects. A sought after real estate authority, she has been featured on CNN and in various real estate and financial publications. Dana is married to the highly esteemed Dr. Dana W. McGinty, a Washington, DC internal medicine physician and medical correspondent. They are often referred to as "The Danas".

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