How to Lower Down Payment Requirements in 2023

By Alene Laney · May 05, 2023 · 9 minute read

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How to Lower Down Payment Requirements in 2023

Many prospective homeowners think they need 20% down in order to buy a home, but that’s not necessary for many people buying property. What’s more, opting for a low down payment has the benefit of getting you into a home sooner than if you were to spend years saving a bigger chunk of change. You’ll also benefit from market appreciation as soon as you own a property. In many areas of the U.S., your home’s value may appreciate faster than you’re able to save.

Borrowers looking to find a lower down payment mortgage may want to start by researching what loan programs and down payment assistance programs are available. This process can help uncover low down payment mortgages that may be a good fit.

Learn more here, including:

•   What is a down payment?

•   How much should you put down on a house?

•   How can you lower down payment requirements?

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

What Is a Down Payment?

First, the basics: What exactly is a down payment? A down payment is the amount of money that goes paid, in cash, toward the purchase price of the home. It must cover the gap between the purchase price of the home and the amount of the mortgage.

A down payment determines what kind of loan you can get, whether or not you’ll pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), what your monthly payment will be and even what your interest rate will be. A down payment doesn’t include closing costs.

How Much Should You Put Down on a House?

You might be wondering how much is a down payment and how long it will take you to save that amount. Here are some options to consider when it comes to down payment amounts:

•   20% Down payment: Many people believe this is the amount they must come up with, though that is not true. Yes, a bigger down payment lowers your mortgage. Your monthly mortgage payment is lower because of your higher down payment, and you’ll pay less interest over the life of the loan. Also, when your down payment is above 20%, your lender does not require you to purchase PMI, which can save you hundreds of dollars each month.

But paying 20% can take a lot of cash out of your pocket when you buy your home. For example, 20% on a home that costs $400,000 is $80,000 dollars. There are many people who want to buy a property, but simply can’t come up with that amount of cash or at least not until they’ve saved for a considerable amount of time.

•   13% Down payment: This is the average down payment on a house, according to the National Association of Realtors. Making this much of a down payment means you won’t avoid PMI in most cases, but you’ll be able to buy a home without having to save as much money. For a house that costs $400,000, that’s $52,000 you need to come up with.

•   3% to 5% Down payment: With a down payment between 3% and 5%, you’ll have a higher monthly payment because your loan amount is higher than if you were able to make a larger down payment. You’ll also pay more each month because of the PMI payment. Lower down payments mean you’ll also pay more interest over the life of the loan.

However, the main benefit of a low-down-payment loan is you’re able to buy a home sooner than if you wait to save a full 20%. For a $400,000 home, a 3% down payment is $12,000 and a 5% down payment is $20,000. Some loans have the option of eliminating PMI once the loan’s remaining principal balance drops to or below 80% of the original mortgage.

•   0% Down payment: Zero down payment options come with higher monthly payments, and there may be certain restrictions or qualifications (say, a certificate of eligibility for military members). They may be niche programs specific to a group of people or locality. Some zero-down programs do not require PMI, but may have an upfront cost to fund their own mortgage insurance, like USDA loans (more on those in a minute).

Considerations to Determine Your Down Payment

The large amount of cash typically needed makes first time homebuyers wonder how they can afford a down payment and if it’s possible to figure out how to lower a down payment on a house. A couple of points to consider:

•   It is possible to get a lower mortgage payment by paying down principal on your home with a larger down payment. A 20 percent down payment on a house eliminates the need to pay PMI every month, which saves you even more on your monthly payment. In this way, a larger down payment can benefit your cash flow and overall financial situation.

•   However, 20% of the price of a home in your market may be hard to save for. You can learn how to buy a house with no money, but there are also 3%, 3.5%, or 5% down payment options available. A lower down payment may be able to help you buy a home sooner. You can begin reaping the benefits of home ownership that much soon and hopefully your home’s value will rise, contributing to your personal wealth.

Recommended: First-Time Home Buyer Programs

How to Lower Down Payment Requirements?

If you’re moving towards purchasing a home, you might be wondering if you can lower your down payment before closing. Generally speaking, you have a handful of options for lowering your down payment requirement as you take out a home mortgage loan and become a homeowner.

Buy a Home in an Area Approved for USDA Loans

USDA loans have 0% down payment requirements, so if you can find a home in an area approved by USDA (typically but not always in a rural location), you may be able to get a 0% down payment loan. For the USDA loan, there are property and income requirements which are determined by the county you live in (or want to live in).

Use a VA Loan to Buy a Home

Qualifying veterans, active duty, National Guard, and Reserve members of the military can use a VA loan, a mortgage that comes with zero-down-payment financing.

Pay the Minimum Amount for a Down Payment

One solution is to look for a loan without potentially restrictive eligibility requirements, as with a USDA or VA loan, and instead shop around for a loan that has low down payment policies. Many lenders offer 3% down mortgages, which may work well for some homebuyers.

Find a Down Payment Assistance (DPA) Program

Down payment assistance programs vary from area to area as far as requirements and amounts go. If you really need down payment assistance, try to buy a home in an area that offers one of these options. DPAs are usually reserved for first-time homebuyers or low- to moderate-income buyers. They typically come in three forms:

•   Second mortgage. DPAs are often offered in the form of a second mortgage with low or zero interest rates. Some second mortgages may not need to be repaid after living in the home for a certain period of time, while others may only need to be repaid when the property is sold.

•   Grant. With a grant, the money you receive is not expected to be repaid. However, there may be requirements for living in the home as a primary residence for a certain number of years for the grant to be forgiven.

•   Tax credit. Tax credits can reduce the amount of federal tax you owe if the local housing finance agency (HFA) issues you a mortgage credit certificate. This certificate can free up money for down payment and closing costs.

Some examples of DPA programs across the U.S. include:

•   Kentucky: Borrowers can receive up to $10,000 repayable over a 10-year period at 3.75% interest via the Kentucky Housing Corporation.

•   California: CalHFA has down payment assistance of 3% to 3.5% for first-time homebuyers who qualify.

•   New York City: The HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program offers up to $100,000 for first-time homebuyers who qualify.

•   Montana: Borrowers can qualify for up to $15,000 in assistance for a down payment from Montana Housing. Repayment is either due when the home is sold or in the form of a 15-year loan.

•   Chenoa Fund: The Chenoa Fund is a nationwide down payment assistance program for creditworthy individuals on FHA loans up to 5% for low- to moderate-income households. Both repayable and forgivable options are available.

In some areas, DPA programs can be hard to find or difficult to qualify for. Your lender can be an excellent resource if you need help buying a home with a small down payment. Discuss options with a representative and see what is available.

Negotiate for Lender Credits

Lenders want your business, especially in a high-rate environment. You can ask for credits to be applied to your closing costs. When your closing costs are covered by the lender, you can put more of your money toward your down payment.

Ask for Seller Concessions

When you negotiate the purchase of property, you can ask for seller concessions. These typically determine which closing costs the seller is willing to pay. Like lender credits, you can put more of your own money towards the down payment when a seller can cover some of your closing costs.

Ask for a Gift from Family

Of course, not every prospective homebuyer is blessed with a relative who has money in the bank they might give you or lend to you with generous repayment terms. But if you are in a spot and unable to come up with the funds otherwise, you might see if anyone is able and willing to help you out.

The Takeaway

While they may come with higher monthly mortgage payments, lower down payment mortgages can help borrowers buy homes sooner. Lowering your down payment requires a good amount of research on the part of the borrower, exploring different loans, programs, and other options to help you afford a property. Even then, you may not find a perfect solution. That’s why it can be important to choose a mortgage partner who’s willing to be with you every step of the way.

SoFi Home Mortgages offer competitive interest rates, low down payment options, and flexible terms. Applying is an easy, streamlined process that’s all online. And you have lender support to help you through the entire process.

SoFi Mortgage Loans: The smart, flexible way to finance your home.


How much money to put down on a house in 2023?

Deciding on how much money to put down depends on your individual financial situation, the area in which you live, and programs you’re able to qualify for. While putting down 20% could save you the money you would pay towards PMI, you may be able to get into a house sooner by paying a lower down payment amount (from 0% to 3.5%).

How can I get my house down payment lowered?

To get your down payment lowered, you can try: financing with a zero-down loan (such as a USDA or VA loan), asking for seller concessions, negotiating for lender credits, and looking for down payment assistance programs.

Will mortgage interest rates go down 2023?

The investing analyst company, Morningstar, predicts the Fed will pause rate hikes by the summer of 2023 and start cutting rates by the end of 2023. However, these predictions are just that: a forecast that may not come to pass.

Does having a cosigner lower your down payment?

A cosigner can help you qualify for a mortgage, but it won’t change the requirements of the mortgage. Different loan programs will each have their own down payment requirements.

Photo credit: iStock/aydinmutlu

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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