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How to Buy a House With No Money: Guide to Getting a No Down Payment Mortgage

By Alene Laney · August 23, 2022 · 4 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How to Buy a House With No Money: Guide to Getting a No Down Payment Mortgage

Even in a hot real estate market, it’s possible to learn how to buy a house with no money down. The trick is, you need to know where to look.

Zero down home loans aren’t available everywhere and to every borrower, but if you do qualify and can find an area with a zero down mortgage, homeownership could be much more attainable.

Here’s exactly what you need to know about how to buy a house with no money down.

Can You Buy a House With No Money Down?

You can buy a house with no money down with certain loan programs in certain areas. There are more homeowner resources to help you buy a home than you may realize.

And first-time homebuyer qualifications can be more flexible than you know. Here’s where to look for and what to expect on a zero down mortgage.

💡 Recommended: Learn more about first-time home buyer programs.

How to Buy a House With No Money

Of all the things you need to buy a house, a down payment holds many buyers back.

But there are a few avenues you can take to buy a home with no money down.

•   Buy a home with a VA or USDA loan, which are no down payment mortgages

•   Receive assistance for your down payment or closing costs from a state or local program or a family member

•   Receive a lender credit

•   Ask for a seller concession

USDA Loan

A USDA loan requires no money down and is intended for buyers in rural areas. There are two ways the U.S. Department of Agriculture loans money:

•   single-family housing direct loans

•   single-family housing guaranteed program

The direct loans are issued by the USDA and come with a 33-year term for low- and very low-income households. (Very low-income applicants may stretch the repayment term to 38 years.)

The guaranteed program is run through approved lenders with a 30-year fixed rate for low- to moderate-income households.

The USDA eligibility site shows eligible areas and income limits.

VA Loan

A loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a zero down payment mortgage with low interest rates for qualified veterans, active-duty service members, certain reservists and National Guard members, and surviving spouses of those who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related injury. Most borrowers pay a one-time funding fee, which can be rolled into the loan.

Lenders can be more flexible with credit scores, mortgage amounts, and debt-to-income ratios.

💡 What credit score do you need for a VA loan?

Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Programs

Many city and state agencies offer different mortgage types and down payment assistance to buyers, especially low- to moderate-income homebuyers, first-time homebuyers, veterans, and people buying in federally targeted areas.

The terms vary. Sometimes the assistance for a down payment is in the form of a second mortgage that is repaid over time. Other terms include deferred payments that are only due if the property is sold, loans that are forgivable if the property is occupied by an owner for a specified amount of time, and even grants.

HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, steers homebuyers to city, state, and nonprofit programs that offer down payment assistance.

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


Down Payment Gift From a Family Member

A down payment gift from a family member can also help you buy a house with no money down. The main thing to remember about a down payment gift from a family member is that the money must be properly documented with a gift letter. Your lender will likely provide a template to make sure you have all the crucial elements included.

Lender Credits

Lender credits are what you get when you agree to pay a higher interest rate in return for some money that the lender contributes toward your closing costs. The more lender credits you receive, the higher your rate will be. With some lenders, you can cover your closing costs entirely with lender credits. This is a common practice when refinancing a loan.

Seller Concessions

One strategy real estate agents have used is to ask for a credit from the seller, to be contributed toward the buyer’s closing costs. Making an offer above asking price in tandem with the seller concessions makes this option more palatable for sellers in a competitive housing market.

💡 Need more help? Head to the Home Loan Help Center

The Takeaway

Learning how to buy houses with no money takes some research, but could be well worth your time. With a VA or USDA loan, down payment assistance, gift money, or lender credits, it is possible to obtain a no money down mortgage.

Qualifying first-time buyers can still catch a break with a conventional mortgage loan from SoFi by putting just 3% down.

SoFi offers fixed-rate loans and a team of mortgage loan officers to answer all your mortgage questions.

Get pre-qualified for a home loan in minutes.

FAQ

Can cash gifts be used as a down payment?

Yes, but certain rules must be followed for the gift to be documented by the lender, usually in the form of a gift letter.

Are there any homebuyer grants?

Sometimes. They’re usually reserved for first-time buyers, veterans, or people buying homes in federally targeted areas. You might start a search for assistance with your state housing finance agency or HUD and then look for city and county programs.

What are down payment assistance programs?

Down payment assistance programs help homebuyers afford down payments and sometimes closing costs as well. This is done in the form of grants and loans and can vary by location.

What credit score do I need to buy a house with no money down?

For a zero down mortgage backed by the USDA or VA, lenders are advised to look at a borrower’s situation case by case. Approved USDA loan lenders usually require a minimum credit score of 640, though the department itself doesn’t have a credit score requirement.

Most VA loan lenders will want to see a credit score above 620, but again, the VA does not have a minimum credit score. Applicants may qualify with a score below 620 when debt, income, and the ability to shoulder future mortgage payments are given a close look.

Down payment assistance programs often require a minimum credit score of 620.


Photo credit: iStock/Paperkites

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