Sug Jandu - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage | Framingham Southborough Sudbury


If you’re hoping to buy a house in the near future, you’ll want to focus on saving for a down payment.

Down payments are a way to let a lender know that you are a low-risk investment, and a way to save money on interest over the term of your loan.

If you have your other finances in order--a good credit score and stable income--there’s a good chance that making a 20% or more down payment will land you a low interest rate that can save you thousands while you pay off your loan.

How large should my down payment be?

The larger the down payment you can afford, the more money you’ll likely save in the long run. While there are ways to get a loan with no or very small down payments, these aren’t always ideal.

First, if you put less than 20% down on your home loan, you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI. These are monthly payments that you make in addition to the interest that is accrued on your loan.

So, if you don’t put any money down on your home, you’ll accrue more interest over your term length and you’ll pay PMI on top of that.

What affects your minimum down payment amount?

Lenders take a number of factors into consideration when determining your risk. If you’re eligible for a first-time home owners loan, a veteran’s loan, or a USDA loan, your loan can be guaranteed by the government. This means you can likely pay a lower down payment while still receiving a reasonable interest rate.

When applying for a mortgage, be sure to reach out to multiple lenders and shop around for the rates that work for you. Many lenders use slightly different criteria to determine your eligibility to pay a lower down payment.

Other things that affect your minimum down payment include:

  • Credit score

  • Location of the home you want to buy

  • Value of the mortgage

Saving for a down payment

You’ll get the most value out of your mortgage if you put more money down. However, if you’re currently living in a high-rent area, it could mean that it’s in your best interest to get out of your apartment and start building equity in the form of homeownership.

If you want to buy a home within the next year or two, there are a few ways you can help increase your savings.

First, determine how much you need to save. Depending on your housing needs and the current market, everyone will have different requirements. Do some home shopping in your area online and look for homes that are within your spending limits. Remember that you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing (mortgage, property taxes, etc.)

Next, find out what a 20% down payment on that home would be, adjusting for inflation.

Once you have the amount you need to save, remember to leave yourself enough of an emergency fund in your savings account to last you a month or two.


There are so many factors that go into finding and securing the financing to buy a home.   While lenders require quite a bit of information for you to get a loan, you still need to be aware of your own financial picture. Even if you’re pre-approved for a certain amount of money to buy a home, you still need to dig into your finances a bit deeper than a lender would. The bottom line is that you can't rely solely on a lender to tell you how much you can afford for a monthly payment on a home. Even if you’re approved to borrow the maximum amount of money for your finances to buy a home, it doesn’t mean that you actually should use that amount. There are so many other real world things that you need to consider outside of the basic numbers that are plugged into a mortgage formula.   


Run Your Own Numbers


It’s important to sit down and do your own budget when you’re getting ready to buy a home. You have plenty of monthly expenses including student loan debt, car payments, utility bills, and more. Don’t forget that you need to eat too! Think about what your lifestyle is like. How much do you spend on food? Do you go out to the movies often or spend a regular amount of cash on clothing? Even if you plan to make adjustments to these habits when buying a home, you’ll want to think honestly about all of your needs and spending habits before signing on to buy a home. 


Now, you’ll know what your true monthly costs are. Be sure to include things like home insurance, property taxes, monthly utilities, and any other personal monthly expenses in this budget. If you plan to put down a lower amount on the home, you’ll also need to include additional insurance costs like private mortgage insurance (PMI).


The magic number that you should remember when it comes to housing costs is 30%. This is the percentage of your monthly income that you should plan to spend on housing. Realistically, this could make your budget tight so this is often thought of as a maximum percentage. By law, a lender can’t approve a mortgage that would take up more than 35% of your monthly income. Some lenders have even stricter requirements such as not allowing a borrower to have a mortgage that would be more than 28% of monthly income. This is where the debt-to-income ratio comes into play.


As you can see, it’s important to take an earnest look at your finances to avoid larger money issues when you buy a home.  



Image by Jojje from Shutterstock

Many people own homes through a mortgage agreement. Traditional mortgages are primarily fully amortized or gradually paid off with regular payments over the lifetime of the loan. Each payment contributes to both the principal and the interest.

A balloon mortgage is a short-term home loan with fixed-rate monthly payments that only take care of accrued interest on the loan for a set period. It also has a large “balloon” payment to cover the rest of the principal.

The payment plan is based mainly on a fifteen- or thirty-year mortgage, with small monthly payments until the due date for the balloon payment. These low regular payments partly cover the loan but require paying the remainder of the unpaid principal as a lump sum. Selling the house or refinancing the balloon loan before the payment is due is how most buyers approach this situation.

Key Issues with Balloon Mortgages

Lenders present a deadline by which the balloon payment is due (three- to seven-year period). The enormous amount is often more than borrowers can easily handle at once.

Paying only interest on a loan does not allow equity to build. Many homeowners use equity as a means to complete home improvements or other projects. Building equity also helps homeowners when it comes time to sell their home because a traditional mortgage reduces over time. 

Why People Opt for Balloon Loans

It is possible to refinance a balloon mortgage or sell the property before the balloon payment is due but it can be difficult to do so. A dry housing market, job loss, or low credit score are potential obstacles. Lay-offs and depressed home values can trap buyers in their balloon loans. Without the option to sell, refinance, or fulfill their balloon payments, borrowers may end up in foreclosure.

The One True Strategy

Traditional loans are generally safer than balloon mortgages. To keep housing costs at a minimum, use a balloon mortgage if you are sure you can exit before the balloon payment comes due. Otherwise, it is best to remain in the realm of traditional loans.

Review the pros and cons of taking a balloon loan before committing to it. Speak to your financial planner or realtor for professional guidance.


The closing cost is the last sum of money home buyers to pay after which there will be no further payment. The closing price can be surprisingly huge. This bill ranges from 3% to 6% of the mortgage. Do the math, and this means that the closing cost on a $300,000 home is around $9,000 to $18,000.

It is understandable that many home buyers are eager to complete their payment and move in, but there is a need to compare prices just as you research prices of a similar product when you set to buy a refrigerator, TV, or a car. Here are some strategies that will enable you to lower your closing cost:

Request a ‘Loan Estimate’ from the Lender 

Asking your lender for a ‘Loan Estimate' form is the first step to take towards minimizing your closing cost. The ‘Loan Estimate' form is a three-page document that your lender will issue to you within three working days.

A loan estimate allows you to make a comparison between companies and also lets you some specific fees that are peculiar to the lender you have chosen.

Be aware of where the savings are 

You will find the total closing cost as well as the amount you need to close the loan at the base of the first page of the Loan Estimate form. Check page two, section C of the Loan Estimate form, there you find the heart of your savings.

Push back on the charges of the lender 

Some lenders might charge a flat fee that covers services like originating and underwriting while others charge may have a separate price for each of the services. There is no problem with charging a separate fee for such services, but when there are more than one or two lines of itemized charges, you should be cautious when dealing with such a mortgage company. Also, take note of the names of the fees, demand for a further explanation from your lender if you notice a charge with a vague title.

Ask your Seller to contribute 

You can ask your seller to provide money to meet your closing cost demands. However, this contribution depends mainly on the market situation as well as the home because sellers may not oblige if there is aggressive competition among buyers. 

Go for a mortgage without a closing cost 

Going for a no-closing-cost mortgage is another strategy to consider. If you don't have enough cash, a no-closing-cost mortgage will be of great benefit. This strategy works like this – you won't have to pay the closing cost, but it will add up to your monthly mortgage payment.


If you are thinking of buying a home in the near future, there’s one three-digit number that could be oh so important to you. That number is your credit score. Read on to find out how a credit score can affect you and the steps you can take to be sure that your credit is in good standing when you head to apply for a mortgage. 


What Is A Credit Score?


Your credit score is checked by lenders of all kinds. Every time you apply for a loan or a credit card, there’s a good chance that your credit score is being pulled to see if you qualify for the loan. Your credit score is calculated based on the information on your credit report. This information includes:


Payment history

Debt-to-credit ratio

Length of credit history

New credit accounts opened


The areas with the most impact on your score is your payment history and your debt-to-credit ratio. This means that on-time payments are super important. You also don’t want to get anywhere close to maxing out your credit cards or loan amounts to keep your score up. 


What’s A Good Score?


If you’re aiming for the perfect credit score, it’s 850. Most consumers won’t reach that state of perfection. That’s, OK because you don’t have to be perfect to buy a house. If your score is 740 and above, know that you’re in great shape to get a mortgage. Even if your score is below 740 but around 700 or above, you’ll be able to get a good interest rate on your mortgage. Most lenders typically look for a score of 620 and above. Keep in mind that the higher your credit score the better your interest rate will be.    



What If You Lack Credit History?


Most people should get a credit card around age 20 in order to begin building credit. You can still qualify for a mortgage without a credit history, but it will be considerably harder. Lenders may look at things like your rent payments or car payments. Lenders want to know that you’re a responsible person to lend to. 


What If Your Score Needs Help?


It doesn’t mean you’re a hopeless case if you lack good credit. Everything from errors on your credit report to missed payments can be fixed. The most important thing that you can do if you’re buying a home in the near future is to be mindful of your credit. Keep an eye on your credit report and continue to make timely payments. With a bit of focus, you’ll be well on your way to securing a mortgage for the home of your dreams.        






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