Real Estate Math: How Much Do I Need To Save For A Down Payment On A House?

woman hand putting money bank note dollar into piggy for saving money wealth and financial concept. Getty

If you’ve been thinking of buying a house, you probably know that you should start saving up toward a down payment. However, if you’ve ever asked yourself how much you should be saving, you’re not alone. I’ve broken down the math for you below. Use these equations – and calculators – provided to figure out your savings goal.

Find out how much you can afford to pay in housing costs each month

Conventional wisdom states that housing expenses should never exceed 28% of your total monthly income. Using that figure, if you make $5,000 per month, that would translate to a monthly housing payment – which should include additional costs like taxes, mortgage insurance, and HOA fees – of $1,400 per month.

To find your amount, the math would look like this:

Your monthly take home pay x 0.28 = Your ideal monthly housing payment

Learn how much house you can afford

Once you have your ideal monthly housing payment in hand, you can use that to find out how much house you can afford. To do this, you’ll also need some additional information. You’ll also need a projected annual interest rate and the number of monthly payments you’ll make over the life of the loan.

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The formula for this is as follows:

Loan amount = (Monthly payment/(Annual interest rate/12) ) x (1 – (1/(annual interest rate/12)*number of monthly loan payments)

The math here can get pretty complicated so I suggest using this calculator to do the legwork instead.

Continuing with the example above, that $1,4000 monthly payment over a 30-year loan with an interest rate of 5% would average out to a loan amount of $260,794.26. For the purposes of this article, I’ll round it to $260,000.

Zero in on your down payment amount

These days, you need to be prepared to make a down payment of at least 3.5% – 5%. However, if you aim higher and save up a down payment between 10% and 20%, you’ll have access to better interest rates, which could save you money over the life of the loan.

No matter how much you decide to save, the math will look like the following:

Your total loan amount x down payment percentage = down payment amount

In the example above, if I used my $260,000 loan amount and wanted to make a 20% down payment, it would look like:

$260,000 x 0.20 = $52,000

The answer you get is equal to the amount that you should aim to save up to put towards a down payment.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

As a real estate blogger and content creator from a family of Realtors, home buying and selling is what I know. In addition to Forbes, my work can be found on Realtor.com, ApartmentTherapy.com, and Freshome.com. I also work with individual real estate agents to boost their digital marketing strategies. Find me at TMRealEstateWriter.com or on Twitter @TaraMastroeni.

Source: Real Estate Math: How Much Do I Need To Save For A Down Payment On A House?

Critics by Kate Wood

Minimum down payment requirements

The minimum down payment required for a house varies depending on the type of mortgage you’re planning to apply for:

0% down payment mortgages. Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans usually do not require a down payment. VA loans are for current and veteran military service members and eligible surviving spouses. USDA loans, backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program, also have no down payment requirement. USDA loans are for rural and suburban home buyers who meet the program’s income limits and other requirements.

As low as 3% down payment mortgages. Some conventional mortgages, such as HomeReady and Home Possible, require as little as 3% down. Conventional loans are not backed by the government, but they follow the down payment guidelines set by the government-sponsored enterprises — or GSEs — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

As low as 3.5% down payment mortgages. FHA loans, which are backed by the Federal Housing Administration, require as little as 3.5% down if you have a credit score that’s at least 580. If you have a credit score that’s between 500 and 579, FHA loans require a 10% down payment.

As low as 10% down payment mortgages. Jumbo loans are home loans that fall outside of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s conforming loan limits. Because these outsized loans can’t be guaranteed by the GSEs, lenders tend to ask for higher down payments in order to offset some of the risk.

With low- or no-down-payment loans, you pay for the guarantee through fees or mortgage insurance, depending on the program.

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