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.
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.
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.
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.
David L. Britt, MBA
9393 W 110th St Suite 170
Overland Park, KS 66210
We have only the highest praise and recommendation for David. In all transactions David was organized, thorough, and personable. He offered us an objective viewpoint on each house we toured, thereby helping us with our decisions. We found him to be knowledgeable about aspects of realty that surpassed just the legalities of buying and selling properties, and furthermore we were consistently impressed by his willingness to research questions he couldn't answer right away. His vast knowledge of market analysis, contractors, financial options, legal issues, etc. showcases that he is best in the industry. Through our journey, we watched David educate the other realtors while they provided misinformation or demonstrated a lack of experience. He was always expedient in returning our calls, searching for properties, and setting up tours. We looked at many houses and David always had appointments scheduled, maximizing the number of houses to view by the next day.
Then, when we ran into some trouble with our mortgage lender and final inspections, David was instrumental at helping us navigate through the mess so that we could close on our home. His patience with us and our lack of understanding was beyond that of realtor, but more resembling a friend.
In summary, we had a great experience utilizing David for the purchase of our new home. In today's world, customer service is very important and we feel David is the epitome of delivering customer service that would exceed your expectations. We recommend you find out for yourself. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend David Britt to any person who is looking to buy or sell a home, as well as seek his service in any of our future real estate transactions.
B and S Coffman - Olathe, KS
David Britt is a man of his word; honorable, kind, and very professional. When I called him to ask his help and advice on the purchase of a new home, he made himself available in a moment's notice. As we went through the process of finding it, making an offer, closing the deal, and finally signing all the paperwork, David was a very helpful "partner." He made it look easy and feel comfortable. My daughter and her husband needed a real estate agent too. I recommended they call David. I am very protective of her--and not many sales people would have my stamp of approval--a prerequisite for working with "my baby." David earned that stamp and represented them in the purchase of their new home too! J Cutler - Olathe, KS