What Is Max Pain in Options Trading?

What Is Max Pain in Options Trading?

What Is Max Pain?

Max pain, or the maximum pain price, is the strike price with the most open options contracts combining puts and calls. It is the strike price that causes the highest dollar value of losses among option buyers on a given stock at a specific expiration.

According to the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), about 30% of options expire worthless, 10% are exercised, and 60% close out before expiration. The concept of max pain focuses on the 30% of options that expire with no intrinsic value.

Some large institutional options sellers see an investment opportunity in writing options that eventually expire worthless, according to max pain theory. If options expire worthless, the seller of those options keeps the entire premium as profit.

Max pain options trading stems from the Maximum Pain Theory. The theory contends that option sellers seek to hedge portfolios with options expiration. The Maximum Pain Theory also suggests an option’s price will arrive at a max pain price where the most options contracts held through expiration will experience losses. Bear in mind that an options contract that is not “in the money” at expiration is worthless.

Recommended: Popular Options Trading Terminology to Know

How Max Pain Works

The Maximum Pain Theory asserts that the price of the underlying asset is likely to converge at the maximum pain strike price. The max pain price is the strike with the greatest dollar value of calls and puts. As the expiration date approaches, the underlying stock price might “pin” to that option strike price.

Some day traders closely monitor the max pain price on the afternoon of expiration – usually the third Friday of the month for monthly options or each Friday for weekly options contracts.

Max Pain trading can be controversial, as some believe it borders on “market manipulation” when traders seek to pin a stock price to a certain price at a certain time. Market participants disagree about whether or not Max Pain Theory works in practice. If a trader can predict which strike price will feature the greatest combination of dollar value between calls and puts, the theory states that they could profit from using that information.

Some market makers may consider Max Pain Price Theory when hedging their portfolios. Delta hedging is a strategy used by options traders – often market makers — to reduce the directional risk of price movements in the security underlying the options contracts. A market maker is often the seller of options contracts, and they seek to hedge the risk of options price movements by buying or selling underlying shares of stock.

This activity can cause the stock price to converge at the max pain price. Delta hedging plays a significant role in max pain trading.

How to Calculate the Max Point

Calculating the max pain options price is relatively straightforward if you have the data. Follow these steps to determine the max pain strike:

•   Step 1: Calculate the difference between each strike price and the underlying stock price.

•   Step 2: Multiply the results from Step One by the open interest at each strike.

•   Step 3: Add the dollar value for both the put and the call at each strike.

•   Step 4: Repeat Steps One through Three for each strike price on the option chain.

•   Step 5: The strike price with the highest dollar value of puts and calls is the max pain price.

Since the stock price constantly changes and open interest in the options market rises and falls, the max pain price can change daily. An options trader might be interested to see if there is a high amount of open interest at a specific price as that price could be where the underlying share price gravitates toward at expiration, at least according to Max Pain Theory.

Max Pain Point Example

Let’s assume that XYZ stock trades at $96 a week before options expiration. A trader researches the option chain on XYZ stock and notices a high amount of open interest at the $100 strike. The trader performs the steps mentioned earlier to calculate the max pain price.

Indeed, $100 is the max pain price. Since the trader believes in Max Pain Theory, they go long shares of XYZ on the assumption that it will rise to $100 by the next week’s options expiration. Another options trading strategy could be to put on a bullish options position instead of buying shares of the underlying stock.

This hypothetical example looks simple on paper but many factors influence the price of a stock. There could be company-specific news issued during the final days before expiration that sends a stock price significantly higher or lower.

Macro factors and overall market momentum might overwhelm market makers’ attempt to pin a stock to a max pain strike. Finally, stock price volatility could cause the max pain price to shift in the hours and even minutes leading up to expiration.

Pros and Cons of Using Max Pain Theory When Trading

Max Pain Options Theory can be an effective strategy for options traders looking for a systematic approach for their options strategy. That said, not everyone agrees that Max Pain Theory works in practice. Here are some of the pros and cons of Max Pain Theory.

Pros

Cons

A systematic approach to trading options Lack of agreement supporting the theory
Trades the most liquid areas of the options market Stock prices don’t always gravitate to a max pain price
Benefits from supposed market manipulation Other factors, such as market momentum or company news, could move the stock price

Max pain trading in the options market is easier today amid a brokerage world with low or even no commissions. Previously, it was simply not economical for many retail traders with small account sizes to buy and sell options using max pain theory.

Critics contend that there should be more regulatory oversight on max pain price trading — particularly on large institutions that could be manipulating prices. It’s unclear whether there will be more oversight of such practices in the future.

The Takeaway

Max Pain Theory is one approach to options trading based on the strike price that would cause the most losses. Options traders who calculate the max pain price, can use that information to inform their investing strategy. But it’s not necessary to invest in options at all to build your nest egg.

But if you’re ready to tackle options trading, check out the SoFi options trading platform. Investors can trade options either from the mobile app or web platform, with an intuitive and approachable design. Whether you’re a seasoned trader or an options trading beginner, you might also perusing the educational content about options offered, too.

Trade options with low fees through SoFi.


Photo credit: iStock/valentinrussanov

SoFi Invest®

INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE

SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
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What Are CryptoPunks & Where Can You Get Them?

What Are CryptoPunks & Where Can You Get Them?

In June of 2021, a cryptopunk NFT (non-fungible token) called “Covid Alien” sold for an astounding $11.7 million. This NFT was part of a rare collection of only nine cryptopunks dubbed “alien punks,” and is the only one depicted as wearing a mask.

In May of the same year, three cryptopunks were sold as a single NFT for nearly $17 million.

What Exactly Are CryptoPunks?

A CryptoPunk is a piece of digital art from the CryptoPunks collection. CryptoPunks — known as Punks — look like pixelated portraits of random characters that are inspired by the London punk rock scene.

As a collection, there are 10,000 Punks in total. Each cryptopunk has its own personality and unique combination of features. Some features are rarer than others. In general, the more rare the combination of features, the higher price a CryptoPunk is likely to fetch. There are 3,840 female punks and 6,039 male punks.

Recommended: If you’re interested in CryptoPunks, check out the Gundam-style robot inspired MekaVerse NFTs.

How CryptoPunks Are Generated

Each Punk is the result of a software program that creates a random strange-looking character. The program results in 24×24 pixel images that are mostly punky-looking guys and girls. There are also a few odd images mixed in, like apes, zombies, and aliens.

How Did CryptoPunks Start?

The CryptoPunks project was launched on June 23, 2017 by Larva Labs . Earlier that year, two developers named John Watkinson and Matt Hall were experimenting with a program they had created to generate pixelated characters. While Matt and John deliberately inserted some of the visual characteristics that their Punks possess, much of the creativity came from the programmatic generator.

When they first launched the project, it was received by a small community of crypto enthusiasts who paid just a few pennies for their Punks. This was a brand-new idea at the time, launched even earlier than the famous CryptoKitties game.

CryptoKitties was responsible for creating the ERC-721 token standard that made NFTs possible. However, CryptoPunks are unique in that they are not technically ERC-721 tokens, which they pre-date. Instead, Punks exist as custom smart contracts.

An Art Experiment

NFTs are a new experiment in digital art. For the first time, it’s possible for creators to issue unique tokens representing their work.

The only thing ensuring this ownership is the fact that each token has a unique identifier and its owner can be tracked and proven on the blockchain. There’s nothing stopping someone from taking a screenshot of an NFT and issuing it as a new token, and as of now, it’s not illegal to do so.

Punk Inspiration

The concept for the CryptoPunks look came from the punk rock scene in London. The creators of the project thought this to be an appropriate visual touch, as the early days of Bitcoin and blockchain shared some of that anti-establishment spirit. The idea was to create virtual characters that would be “a collection of misfits and non-conformists,” according to the creators.

The look and feel of the movie Blade Runner and the novel Neuromancer also served as inspiration for the creation of CryptoPunks.

Digital Ownership and NFTs

NFTs are unique (not fungible) and cannot be replicated. Therefore, the wallet address that each token belongs to can be identified on the public blockchain. The person who owns the crypto wallet that an NFT resides in can claim that they have exclusive ownership of the token.

This provides for many possibilities in terms of digital ownership. Art, music, virtual property, and more can all be tokenized and given a unique identifier.

Recommended: What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?

NFTs and Risk

This development has not been without controversy, however. Because NFTs are not copyrighted, in theory anyone can take a screenshot of a piece of digital art that exists as an NFT and re-sell it as something original. The copy would have a different name and number on the blockchain but would otherwise be the same.

Additionally, because NFTs are relatively new, there’s no precedent set for the long-term value of these digital tokens. There is a high risk of loss when it comes to using NFTs as an investment.

Value of CryptoPunks

Like any work of art, the value of CryptoPunks NFTs is totally subjective. It’s simply a matter of what someone is willing to pay for it. While some claim this has led to an irrational speculative frenzy, others assert that the market is more honest than some traditional financial markets.

Most Expensive

The most expensive CyptoPunks sale to date is the group of three Punks that sold as a single NFT for just under $17 million.

In general, Punks with rarer features sell for more. Beanie hats are the rarest attribute — if you don’t count the one and only Punk that wears a mask. Earrings are the most common attribute, making the Punks that wear earrings among the cheapest.

There’s not an exact 1:1 relationship between rarity and price, though. Prices can fluctuate randomly depending on what’s popular in the market at any given time.

Most Rare

The most rare of the CryptoPunks is the one referred to as “Covid Alien” that wears a mask. No other Punk is depicted as wearing a mask.

The Takeaway

CryptoPunks NFTs were created to represent the ethos of the early days of Bitcoin and crypto. These unique pixelated characters have captured the attention of investors who hold a lot of ETH tokens and are willing to pay ridiculously high prices for them. While Punks were technically some of the first NFTs created back in early 2017, they’re not the only ones, nor will they be the last.

FAQs

How much are CryptoPunks worth?

The total value of all sales of CryptoPunks as of mid-January 2022 is $1.9 billion. Dozens of Punks have sold for more than a million dollars each.

How can you get a CryptoPunks NFT?

If you already know how to buy and sell NFTs, you might assume the process is the same for CryptoPunks. But because these images pre-date the invention of modern NFTs, they can’t be bought on regular NFT marketplaces.

To buy a CryptoPunks NFT, you will first need the MetaMask wallet and some ETH. MetaMask works as a browser extension. ETH can be bought on many crypto exchanges like Coinbase or Kraken. After funding your wallet, you can buy punks on the Larva Labs website.

However, the lowest priced CryptoPunks NFT is currently going for just under $200,000, so be prepared to spend a small fortune.

What is making CryptoPunks so expensive?

NFT markets, like art markets, are subjective. The more people are willing to pay for something, the higher prices will get bid up. As CryptoPunks have grown in popularity, they have attracted the interest of buyers with deeper pockets.

Photo credit: iStock/Marcos Homem


SoFi Invest®

INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE

SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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What Are Bitcoin Options & How Do They Work?

What Are Bitcoin Options & How Do They Work?

Options contracts are agreements between two parties. An option gives the holder the right, but not always the obligation, to buy or sell an asset at a certain price on or before a specific date. Some exchanges also offer what are called binary options, where traders place bets on which way the price of an asset will move.

Bitcoin options are a popular way for both retail and institutional investors to profit from the price movements of Bitcoin. Here are the basics of how Bitcoin options trading works.

Bitcoin Options Defined

A Bitcoin option is a derivative — a financial instrument that derives its value from an underlying asset. A Bitcoin options contract is an agreement to be able to buy Bitcoin at a certain price on a certain date.

In the early days of Bitcoin, the only way to acquire the asset was either to mine coins yourself or buy them from someone who did. Over time, reputable, trusted exchanges popped up, and the market cap and daily trading volume of Bitcoin began to grow rapidly, along with its price. This began to attract the attention of institutional investors like banks and hedge funds.

But because Bitcoin existed in a legal grey area devoid of any real regulations, institutions couldn’t touch it. They couldn’t risk getting in trouble with regulatory authorities like the SEC, CFTC, or FINRA. They wanted a way to get into the market in a more indirect, regulated way.

So they pushed for the creation of crypto derivatives like Bitcoin options.

Explaining Bitcoin Options Trading

For the most part, Bitcoin options trading works like trading options for any other asset. There are some key differences, including the following:

•   Most Bitcoin options are cash-settled, meaning there’s no delivery of the underlying asset

•   Bitcoin options tend to be very volatile, so they have high implied volatility (IV)

•   Due to the high IV, these contracts tend to come with high premiums, making them expensive to trade

How Are Bitcoin Options Traded?

The simplest types of options on Bitcoin are calls and puts. A call gives the holder the right to buy Bitcoin at a certain price on a specified date. A put gives the holder the right to sell Bitcoin at a certain price on a specified date. There are also more complex strategies for trading options that won’t be covered here.

While trading Bitcoin options might sound simple, the actual process can get confusing. Most exchanges make it easy enough to pick a strike price, expiration date, and call or put. So, almost anyone can buy a contract.

But understanding how different variables affect the price of the option can be a lot more complicated. It’s not uncommon for new options traders to lose money. Losses can be much larger than anticipated, too.

Put options in particular come with unlimited risk. There’s no limit to how high the price of Bitcoin, or any other asset, can potentially go. And the further the price rises, the more money a put option holder will lose.

What Drives Bitcoin Options Prices?

There are a few main factors that make up the price of an option. It’s crucial for options traders to be familiar with these terms and to research how they apply to the specific options contracts they want to trade.

Expiry Date

This is the date the option will be exercised. For calls, the option holder can buy the underlying asset on this date. For puts, they can sell.

Strike Price

This is the price of the underlying asset that the option holder can buy or sell at upon expiration.

Time Decay

As the expiry date approaches, time decay settles in. This erodes the premium of the contract, decreasing its value over time. Because there is less time for prices to move, and therefore less opportunity to profit as expiration draws near, no one is willing to pay very much for the contract any longer. Time decay is not a linear process; it gets increasingly faster the closer it gets to the expiration date.

Implied Volatility

The more volatile the underlying asset, the more uncertain the outcome of a contract will be. This makes the contracts more expensive. Sometimes, implied volatility can collapse even as the price of an asset moves in the direction a trader wants it to — resulting in “IV crush”. The value of a contract can then decline quickly. This is just one way that options traders can get crushed even when they make the right bet.

Premium

This is the price that someone pays to buy the option. How the premium is calculated depends on the other factors.

Of course, anyone trading options would also be wise to understand the underlying asset of the contract. In this case, they might want to learn what Bitcoin is beforehand.

When Do Bitcoin Options Expire?

Bitcoin options are European-style contracts, meaning they can only be exercised at expiration. In contrast, American style options can be exercised at any time.

Like other options, Bitcoin options expire on their expiration or expiry date. This time can also be referred to as the option “reaching maturity”.

In general, options with an expiry date further into the future come with higher premium prices. This is due to the added uncertainty. With more time until maturity, the writer (seller) of the option is taking on a greater risk, because there’s more time for the underlying asset to make a big move one way or another.

As a result, the options writer will demand a higher premium. There is also more time for buyers of the option to make a profit, so they are willing to pay more for the contract.

How Expensive Are Bitcoin Options?

Because of their implied volatility, Bitcoin options tend to be among the most expensive options contracts on the market. The higher the IV, the higher the premium, or price of the option.

Bitcoin itself has a reputation for being among the most volatile assets in the world. The only thing more volatile might be altcoins, other cryptocurrencies with smaller market caps. Because of that extreme volatility, Bitcoin options tend to be much more expensive than options that have more traditional underlying assets like bonds or equities.

It’s hard enough to answer the question “how is Bitcoin valued.” Determining how Bitcoin options are valued can be even more difficult.

Bitcoin Options and CME

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group is a leader in trading options and futures. About 50 years ago, CME Group was responsible for creating the first futures contracts that had financial instruments as the underlying assets rather than commodities.

It’s perhaps fitting that the CME Group also launched the first regulated Bitcoin futures exchange in the USA in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The Takeaway

Bitcoin options trading can be complex, confusing, and risky. As with any options trading, there are multiple factors that can lead to unexpected changes in the value of a contract. Even if the price moves in a direction that is favorable to the contract, traders can still lose money due to changes in time decay and implied volatility.


Photo credit: iStock/Eoneren

SoFi Invest®

INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE

SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
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house made from money

Should You Use Your Roth IRA to Buy Your First Home?

If you are a young professional, you most likely have multiple savings goals, including retirement and buying your first home. Saving for both can be challenging while also covering your monthly expenses.

When you factor in things like student loan payments and any other debt, not to mention a bit of wiggle room to actually live your life, you might find yourself struggling to balance it all. You don’t want to spread yourself thin with all of the different payments, so it is a good idea to get an understanding of how much home you can afford.

On one hand, if you start saving early for retirement, your money has more time to grow with compound interest. On the other hand, saving for a down payment on a home in today’s market can take years depending upon the purchase price and loan program you choose. According to research by Zillow, it takes about seven years for home buyers to save a 20% down payment for the median value of a home in the U.S.

While 20% down is often thought of as the golden rule for mortgage down payments, these days it’s not required. In 2018, the median down payment on a home was around 5%, according to HousingWire.

There’s one tool of many that can help you reach both your home and retirement goals without requiring you to plan your entire life out before you turn 30: A Roth IRA.

While you’ve probably been told that you should never tap into your retirement money, using cash from a Roth IRA to fast-track your dream of home ownership can be a worthy exception.

Here are a few reasons you may consider leveraging a Roth IRA to become a first-time homeowner without having to delay your retirement goals, and some tips on how to go about it.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


The Low-Down on a Roth IRA

IRAs are designed to help you save for retirement. However, a Roth IRA is different from other retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and traditional IRAs. The main distinction is that you contribute after-tax dollars to a Roth IRA because contributions are not tax deductible.

Since you already paid taxes on the money before putting it into the account, the distributions you take when you retire can be withdrawn tax-free.

Compare that to traditional IRAs where you reap the tax benefits at the time of contribution (they’re deducted from your income on your tax return). The money is taxed when it is withdrawn in retirement, which according to IRS rules is after age age 59 ½.

Under certain circumstances, distributions can also be withdrawn tax free before retirement from a Roth IRA. So long as the account has been open for at least five years distributions can be withdrawn tax free; in the case of disability, if the distribution is made to a beneficiary after the account holder’s death, or in the case that the withdrawal fulfills the requirements for the first time home buyer exception.

But here’s the real game-changer: Unlike a traditional IRA, you can withdraw the money you contributed to a Roth IRA at any time without penalty.

Things get a little more complicated when it comes to your investment earnings. In very specific instances—buying your first home, for one—you are allowed to withdraw up to $10,000 of investment earnings from a Roth IRA with no tax or penalty. The only stipulations are that you must have had the account open for five years, and that the withdrawal is for your very first home.

Traditional IRAs also qualify for the first time home buyer exception. While this exception allows first time home buyers to avoid the 10% penalty, the withdrawal would still be charged income tax. By comparison, if you wanted to withdraw money from your 401(k), you would likely pay taxes and a penalty. However, there are certain situations that allow first-time homebuyers to withdraw from a 401(k). Whichever retirement account you decide to go with, SoFi is here to help. Start contributing to your account today by opening a online ira.

Crunching the Numbers

The best way to explain how this all works is by running the numbers. Let’s say you open a Roth IRA in 2019, contribute $6,000 per year (the current maximum contribution allowed) for five years, and hypothetically earn 7% per year on that money.

After three years, you would have made $18,000 in contributions and earned about $1,300 on your investment. If you continue to save $6,000 for two more years, your contributions would climb to $30,000 and the investment earnings would be around $4,500.

After five years, you can withdraw all of your contributions and up to $10,000 of your investment earnings—but you might not have earned that much yet.

Because this withdrawal benefit is available only once in a lifetime, ideally, you might want to time it so that you only tap into your Roth after you’ve earned the full amount allowable.

One other important thing to keep in mind: Roth IRAs have contribution limits based on your income. For example, if you are single and make less than $129,000 in 2022 , the maximum Roth IRA contribution is $6,000 , even if you participate in a retirement plan through your employer.

If you make more than that, the benefit begins to phase out. If you make more than $144,000 as a someone who is filing single, you’re not able to contribute to a Roth IRA.For more information about IRA accounts and contribution, check out SoFi’s IRA calculator.

To recap, you can withdraw from the investment earnings in your Roth IRA to buy a house if:

•   You are a first time home buyer.

•   It has been at least five years since you first contributed to your Roth IRA (the five year mark starts on January 1st of the year you made your first contribution.)

•   You only withdraw up to $10,000 within your lifetime (pre-retirement).

•   You use the funds to purchase, build, or rebuild a home.

•   You can also use the money to help fund the purchase of a home for your child, grandchild, or parent who qualifies as a first time home buyer.

•   The funds must be used within 120 days of withdrawal.

You can withdraw from the contributions you have made into your Roth IRA at any time, for any reason. There is no tax or penalty, and you can use the money however you like.

Qualifying as a First Time Home Buyer

Even if you have owned a home in the past, you may still be able to qualify as a first time home buyer and withdraw money from your Roth IRA.

According to the IRS, you qualify as a first time home buyer if “you had no present interest in a main home during the 2-year period ending on the date of acquisition of the home which the distribution is being used to buy, build, or rebuild. If you are married, your spouse must also meet this no-ownership requirement.”

So if the acquisition date (the date you enter into a contract to purchase a home or start building a home) is at least two years later than the last date you had any ownership interest in a primary residence home, you can qualify as a first time home buyer under this program.

💡 Recommended: First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide

Things to Consider Before Withdrawing from Your Roth IRA

Although using money from your Roth IRA may seem like an easy source to fund a down payment to purchase your first home, it might not be the right decision for everyone. Before you cash out your Roth IRA, think about how it might broadly impact your financial future.

Where Will Your Money Work the Hardest?

Figure out where your money will be working harder for you. Keep market conditions in mind and compare your mortgage interest rate to the expected long term return you would earn by keeping your money in your Roth IRA.

It can be difficult to predict the stock market, but in the past 90 years, the average rate of return for the S & P 500 has hovered around 7%, and that’s adjusted for inflation. When money is withdrawn from the Roth IRA, the potential for additional growth is eliminated, as is the opportunity to benefit from compounding interest.

The housing market is also subject to fluctuation. Consider things like the location and housing market where you plan to buy. In addition, it’s worth factoring in things like current mortgage rates. Another factor that could influence your decision—mortgage interest is generally tax deductible up to $750,000.

There are a lot of moving pieces to consider when determining whether or not to use your Roth IRA to fund a down payment on a house. Consulting with a financial advisor or other qualified professional could be helpful as you weigh your options.

What Mortgage Options Are Available?

Conventional wisdom suggests a 20% down payment when buying a house. And generally, a larger down payment can mean improved loan terms and lower monthly payments.

But if it requires tapping into your retirement fund you may want to think twice. Before committing to a mortgage, explore your options—some mortgages, such as Fannie Mae’s 97% program, offer as little as 3% for a down payment.

How Will Your Retirement Goals Be Impacted?

Everyone’s financial journey is different. Financial and retirement goals are deeply personal, as are the amount of money an individual is able to save each month. For most people, taking money out of a retirement account early will hinder their progress.

Plus withdrawing the money early means you’ll miss out on the tax free growth offered by a Roth IRA. These negative impacts would need to be weighed against any market appreciation you may gain through homeownership.

How Will Your Retirement Goals Be Impacted?

Everyone’s financial journey is different. Financial and retirement goals are deeply personal, as are the amount of money an individual is able to save each month. For most people, taking money out of a retirement account early will hinder their progress.

Plus withdrawing the money early means you’ll miss out on the tax free growth offered by a Roth IRA. These negative impacts would need to be weighed against any market appreciation you may gain through homeownership.

Making This Strategy Work for You

In a perfect scenario, you wouldn’t choose to become a homeowner at the expense of draining your retirement nest egg. Instead, explore other options such as opening a Roth IRA and treat it almost like a savings account, with the intention of using it for your first home purchase five years (or more) from now.

Unlike other investment accounts, your investment returns are tax free, and—contrary to other retirement products—you wouldn’t even be taxed when it comes time to withdraw, as long as all Roth IRA requirements are met.

Ideally, at the same time, you would continue to fund other retirement accounts, such as the one offered through your employer. Even though home ownership is your immediate goal, you’d likely be working toward other longer-term financial goals (like retirement) as well.

And what if you don’t end up buying a home, or you come up with another source of down payment? A Roth IRA is still a win, since you can leave that money be and let it continue to grow for your retirement.

There are a few other circumstances in which you can likely avoid penalties on a withdrawal. These include qualified higher education expenses, some medical costs, and other hardships. Be sure to consult with your tax professional to clarify any of these exceptions before you move forward.

It’s also worth noting that traditional IRAs also qualify for a first time home buyer exception. This exception allows for up to $10,000 to be withdrawn from the IRA before the age of 59 ½, to purchase a house as a first time home buyer and avoid penalties.

In this case, income tax will likely need to be paid but qualifying withdrawals won’t be subject to the additional 10% early withdrawal penalty.

For most young adults with other financial obligations and an early career-level salary, using a Roth IRA to help save for a down payment will require an examination of personal priorities.

Getting Professional Advice

Only you can determine if using money from your Roth IRA to purchase your first home is a trade-off you are willing to make. As you’re starting to make these large life decisions, it can be very useful to seek out tools and resources to help you through the process.

SoFi offers an integrated platform where you can invest toward your financial goals and get personalized advice from qualified professionals.

With SoFi Invest®, you can set up an IRA or another investment vehicle and choose between active or automated investing, depending on your personal preference and financial goals.

Schedule a complimentary consultation with a SoFi Financial Planner to discuss your goals and develop a plan to help you reach them.

Learn more about SoFi Invest now, and start online investing smartly.


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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