What Is the Minimum Down Payment for an FHA Loan?

Saving up for a down payment is a common challenge for many prospective homebuyers. FHA loans allow qualifying borrowers to put as little as 3.5% down on a property, helping lower the barriers to homeownership for many.

With an FHA loan, borrowers may also be eligible for down payment assistance. But there are other out-of-pocket expenses to keep in mind when considering an FHA loan. Let’s take a closer look at FHA loan down payment requirements and how much money you’ll need to get to the closing table.

What Is an FHA Loan?

An FHA loan is a type of mortgage that’s issued by a lender, such as a bank or credit union, but insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The purpose of the FHA mortgage program is to make homeownership more affordable for low- to moderate-income buyers.

Since FHA loans are government-insured, they offer more flexible eligibility requirements for borrowers who might not qualify for a conventional home loan. FHA loans have lower minimum down payment and credit score requirements, making them popular with first-time homebuyers and applicants with limited savings or poor credit. Compared to conventional mortgages, FHA loan interest rates are typically lower, but will vary depending on the lender and on the borrower’s credit score and finances.

💡 Quick Tip: Buying a home shouldn’t be aggravating. SoFi’s online mortgage application is quick and simple, with dedicated Mortgage Loan Officers to guide you through the process.

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

FHA Loan Income Requirements

There aren’t any minimum or maximum income requirements to qualify for an FHA loan. However, there may be income limits for borrowers receiving down payment assistance through a state or local program.

In any case, lenders will look at an applicant’s ability to manage monthly mortgage payments and ultimately repay the FHA loan. Besides savings and assets, lenders assess an applicant’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which measures the percentage of monthly income that goes toward debt payments. A lower DTI ratio is typically viewed as favorable. Depending on the lender, borrowers can get an FHA loan with a DTI ratio of up to 50%. In comparison, conventional loans typically require a DTI ratio of 43% or less.

Recommended: How Much is a Down Payment?

What Is the Down Payment Required for an FHA Loan?

Down payments are calculated as a percentage of the home purchase price. Historically, lenders looked for buyers to put down one-fifth of a home’s purchase price upfront. But you no longer always need to put down 20% on a house. The minimum down payment percentage for FHA loans depends on a borrower’s credit score.

The average down payment on a house in the U.S. was 13% in 2022. But with an FHA loan, borrowers with a credit score of 580 or more may qualify for a down payment of 3.5% of the home purchase price. Those with credit scores between 500 and 579 will need to put 10% of the home price towards a down payment. For a $400,000 house, this translates to $14,000 for a 3.5% down payment and $40,000 for a 10% down payment.

💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.

What Other Cash Will I Need to Close?

Besides the down payment, the remaining amount you need to close on a house will depend mainly on the home’s purchase price. Taking out an FHA loan requires paying an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) of 1.75% of the loan total. It may be possible to roll this cost into the loan, which would increase the loan principal and monthly payment amount.

Buyers will also be on the hook for FHA loan closing costs, which typically range from 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. Borrowers can potentially avoid the upfront expense by rolling closing costs into an FHA loan. By financing closing costs, borrowers will pay a portion of the costs each month, plus interest. Note that financing closing costs can increase a borrower’s DTI ratio and potentially impact their ability to qualify for an FHA loan.

An alternative option to cover closing costs would be to ask for seller concessions. FHA loans allow the seller to contribute up to 6% of the home value for closing costs as a seller concession.

Recommended: What Do You Need to Buy a House?

How to Save for an FHA Loan Down Payment

Understanding how much house you can afford is a useful place to start to determine your housing budget and savings goal. Using an FHA loan mortgage calculator can help crunch the numbers to determine your down payment and monthly payment based on different loan terms. Not sure you will choose an FHA loan? Use a home affordability calculator to determine how much house you can afford.

With a savings goal in mind, calculate how much you can set aside each month after paying for debts and expenses. Consider cutting discretionary spending, such as dining out and travel, to increase monthly savings.

Buyers can also get the money they need for an FHA down payment in the form of a gift from family, friends, employer, charitable organization, or government program. Gifted funds need to be accompanied by a gift letter to show the lender that the money is going toward the down payment and doesn’t need to be repaid.

Is Down Payment Assistance Available for FHA Loans?

Borrowers who can’t afford a down payment on an FHA loan may be eligible for financial assistance. Down payment assistance can come in several forms, including grants and forgivable loans. These programs are available through local, state, and federal government programs, as well as nonprofit organizations.

Most down payment assistance programs are geared towards first-time buyers. They may include additional eligibility requirements, such as income limits and participation in homebuyer education courses. Consult a list of first-time homebuyer programs and loans to see what you might be eligible for. If it has been more than three years since you have owned a home, you may qualify for first-time homebuyer status.

Additional Cost Considerations for FHA Loans

In addition to the upfront costs of a down payment, closing costs, and MIP, there are other expenses to plan for.

The MIP includes an additional annual fee besides the 1.75% that’s required for closing. Annual payments range from 0.15% to 0.75% depending on the loan terms and loan-to-value ratio. The total annual cost is divided by 12 and spread out across the monthly payments in a given year. Note that MIP usually spans the life of the FHA loan unless a borrower refinances.

Depending on the property location, borrowers may also need to pay for flood insurance to get an FHA loan.

Pros and Cons of an FHA Loan

FHA loans are popular for their lower down payment mortgage requirements, but they’re not for everyone. Here are some advantages and drawbacks to consider when comparing home mortgage loan options.


•   Smaller down payments

•   More lenient credit score requirements

•   No income limits

•   Can finance closing costs


•   Required to pass an inspection and appraisal

•   Must be used for a primary residence.

•   Loan limits of $472,030 to $1,089,300 for a single-family home, depending on the cost of living by state.

•   Can require an inspection and stricter standards for the condition of the property.

The Takeaway

What is the minimum down payment for an FHA loan? Borrowers with credit scores of 580 or more can put just 3.5% down, while those with scores between 500 to 579 need to put 10% toward a down payment. The combination of lower minimum credit score and low down payment make FHA loans one attractive option for first-time homebuyers.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


What is the lowest down payment for an FHA loan?

The lowest down payment for an FHA loan is 3.5% of the loan amount. Borrowers can explore down payment assistance programs to help cover the cost.

What is the down payment for an FHA loan 2023?

The down payment for an FHA loan in 2023 ranges from 3.5% to 10% depending on the borrower’s credit score.

What will disqualify you from an FHA loan?

Borrowers could be disqualified from an FHA loan based on a high debt-to-income ratio, poor credit, or insufficient funds to pay for the down payment, closing costs, and monthly mortgage payment.

Photo credit: iStock/Edwin Tan

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
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.


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origami dollar houses

7 Tips for Buying a Home in the Off-Season

Spring has been a traditional house-hunting season. That’s when parents of school-age kids often look for a place to call home — one they can settle into before classes begin in September.

And summer certainly has its merits for looking at houses, from the comfort of walk-throughs in warm weather to seeing gardens in full bloom.

But buying a house in winter can be a wise move. The so-called “off season” bestows some very real benefits for those who are looking for a new place. These may include everything from less competition (and fewer bidding wars) to faster closing schedules.

While increasing mortgage rates and low inventory have led to high home prices in recent years, industry watchers are expecting prices to decline in some “hot” markets (like Texas and Florida) in late 2023, early 2024. That suggests that the winter ahead might be a good time to bundle up and rev up a home search.

Read on to learn seven smart benefits of shopping for a house in winter. You just might snag a great deal on your dream house.

Why You Should Buy a Home in Winter

Wondering why you should consider buying a house in winter, when the days may be short, the trees bare, and the weather nasty? Here are some very good reasons.

1. Having Less Competition for Homes

Not everyone wants to or is able to shop for houses during the winter months. Freezing temperatures and inclement weather can keep would-be homebuyers away.

During the winter season, many parents are busy managing school schedules and events, and many people are also busy traveling and hosting guests over the holidays.

But there’s an upside: Fewer people shopping for homes could mean less competition for those in the market for a house. And diminished competition might mean winter homebuyers can be more discerning in their choices. There’s less pressure to snap up a house for fear another buyer will get to it first. In addition, you may be less likely to end up in a bidding war with a slew of other interested buyers, which can drive up costs.

While there are often fewer houses for sale during the winter, buyers may be more likely to land their desired home closer to the asking price (or even below).

💡 Quick Tip: When house hunting, don’t forget to lock in your home mortgage loan rate so there are no surprises if your offer is accepted.

2. Profiting from a Buyer’s Market in Winter

With some buyers distracted by the jam-packed holidays, it can be trickier to sell a home in the wintertime. Some sellers only put their homes on the market in the winter because they really have to.

The seller’s snag, though, can be a boon for buyers, as winter homesellers may be more motivated to get the sale completed faster than their summertime counterparts.

Motivated winter sellers might be willing to negotiate on things like price, closing costs, and the closing date. Perhaps they need to relocate for work or another time-sensitive reason and are eager to get the deal done.

In some cases,houses that are on the market in the winter have been there since the summer selling season. Homes like these are sometimes referred to as “stale listings.” The seller may be ready to take what would previously be deemed a too-low offer, just to move ahead with a deal.

Recommended: A Guide to Counter Offers

3. Closing on Your Purchase Faster in Winter

Closing is when the title of a property legally changes hands from the seller to the buyer. When buyers and sellers are negotiating the sale of a home, they work together to set a closing date when the house title will officially transfer between the parties.

Real estate agents often work with mortgage brokers to find a suitable day that will allow enough time for the deal to be executed properly.

In warmer months, banks, inspectors, and appraisers are usually handling a lot of new buyers. In practice, this glut of interested buyers could mean mortgage brokers are backed up for weeks or even months.

In the winter, when fewer interested buyers are typically calling, things can slow down for lenders. As a result, cold-weather buyers might be able to close on their homes faster and get settled in more quickly.

Recommended: What Are the Different Types of Mortgage Loans?

4. Understanding a Home’s Condition More Clearly

Visiting a property in person can tell a buyer a lot about a home. But, in the summertime, some of a house’s less attractive qualities can be masked by warm weather, blossoming gardens, and the brilliant summer sun.

Seeing a house in the winter can give buyers a chance to understand how it holds up under tougher conditions. Is the house too gloomy in low light? Does cold air creep in from the windows? Does ice jam up the gutters causing the roof to leak? Does a long driveway that needs to be shoveled seem less appealing in the winter than in June? You could be destined for some home maintenance costs. Getting a chance to suss out potential problems like these can provide a fuller picture of what actually living in a property might be like year-round.

Keep in mind, though, that some aspects of a home can be harder to grasp in the winter months. For example, it’s tough to test out an air conditioning unit in the wintertime. And snow could cover up foundation issues.

💡 Quick Tip: To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show the real estate agent proof that you’re preapproved for a mortgage. SoFi’s online application makes the process simple.

5. Hiring Movers Can Be Easier in Winter

Let’s say you do find a new home and move forward with buying a house in winter. Moving costs in the winter can be cheaper than in the summer. Fewer people buying homes means less demand for movers, which in turn could mean more competitive pricing.

With lighter schedules, moving companies may also be more flexible and able to accommodate your desired moving dates. (It can be helpful to stay flexible with move dates in the winter, since a big snowstorm might mean sudden delays.)

Still, if you move when snow is falling, that will obviously slow down your move and make it pricier. Try to reschedule if inclement weather is in the forecast.

6. Getting More Time and Attention from Realtors

Movers aren’t the only people who are less busy in the winter months. Fewer people shopping for houses could mean there’s less work for real estate agents.

Agents may have more time in the winter to spend helping individual buyers find the house that meets their exact needs. Also, when it comes time to negotiate, agents may have more hours to go to bat for their clients to secure a better deal.

7. Taking Advantage of Last-Minute Tax Savings

Buying a house by late December (rather than waiting until the following spring) may allow buyers to take advantage of last-minute savings on that year’s taxes.

The mortgage interest deduction allows homeowners to subtract mortgage interest from their taxable income, lowering the amount of taxes they owe. Married couples filing jointly and single filers can deduct the interest on mortgages up to $750,000. Married taxpayers filing separately can deduct up to $375,000 each.

However, you cannot deduct mortgage interest in addition to taking the standard deduction. To take the mortgage interest deduction, you’ll need to itemize. Itemizing only makes sense if your itemized deductions total more than the standard deduction. For the 2023 tax year, the standard deduction is $13,850 for single filers and $27,700 for those married, filing jointly.

Recommended: How to Qualify for a Mortgage: 9 Requirements for a Mortgage Loan

Financing Your Home Purchase

No matter what season you may be house-hunting, it’s important to figure out how to finance a potential purchase before you find the home that’s “The One.”

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

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.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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Understanding Your Mortgage APR

If you’re getting a mortgage, one important consideration is the APR, or annual percentage rate, on your loan. This is something different from your interest rate: The home loan APR reveals the overall cost of your mortgage, reflecting both the interest rate and any additional costs that must be factored in.

Knowing the APR on a home loan is a key bit of intel which can influence your overall costs as you move towards homeownership. To help you better understand this concept and how APR is calculated, read on. You’ll likely be better prepared to know which loan offer best suits your needs, today and tomorrow.

What Is APR?

APR stands for annual percentage rate, and it’s used to measure the cost of borrowing money from lenders for various reasons, such as your mortgage loan. While it’s often presented at the same time as your interest rate, it isn’t the same thing.

APR is expressed as a percentage and takes into account not only the interest rate but also many of the costs that are associated with the loan. When it comes to borrowing a mortgage, these costs can include such items as these, among others:

•   Origination fees

•   Application fees

•   Processing fees

•   Discount points.

APR provides a more comprehensive picture of the total cost of the mortgage loan. It gives you an overall view of the fees and costs you would have to pay that are included in the finance charge. If you compare just the interest rate, the additional fees and costs aren’t represented, which could give you an incomplete picture when it comes to determining the actual cost of the loan. That could negatively impact your ability to budget accurately for your home loan costs.

Since not all lenders charge the same fees or interest rates, comparing APRs is usually a better way to compare the total cost of your loan from one lender to another.

💡 Quick Tip: Don’t overpay for your mortgage. Get a competitive rate by shopping around for a home loan.

Why Is APR Important When Taking Out a Mortgage?

Knowing the APR can help consumers be more informed while comparison shopping for loan products. Thanks to the Truth in Lending Act, lenders are required to disclose the APR of their loans, as well as all fees and charges associated with a loan.

The APR should include all finance charge fees, which can make it easier for borrowers to sort through loan comparisons to find the right mortgage.

How Are Interest Rates Calculated?

As we’ve discussed, APR and interest rate aren’t the same, but your interest rate does impact your APR. So, how exactly are interest rates calculated?

Your interest rate is a percentage of your mortgage rate. What that percentage will be depends on what type of mortgage loan you have.

•   With a fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll pay the same interest rate for the entire time you have the loan.

•   With an adjustable rate mortgage, on the other hand, your rate will fluctuate throughout the life of the loan.
Also, keep in mind that any unpaid interest gets added to the mortgage principal. This means you’ll have to pay interest on that interest.

Your lender will determine your specific interest rate based on your financial specifics, such as your credit score, as well as the current economic conditions and market interest rates. Lenders usually use their own unique formula to calculate interest rates, which is why your rate can vary from lender to lender — and why it’s important to shop around for rates.

Recommended: APR vs. Interest Rate: What’s The Difference?

How to Calculate Your APR

When you’re getting a mortgage, you may want to be extra thorough and calculate the APR yourself. There’s a way to make that happen. But be warned, it’s not necessarily a super fun math project, but hey, where there’s a formula, there’s a way, right?

•   To get started, you’ll have to know the approximate monthly Principal and Interest (P&I) payment on your loan. Maybe your lender has already told you what it would be, but if not, you could calculate it with an online mortgage calculator or by hand.

•   You’ll need to have a loan amount, interest rate and a term in years.

•   Once you have the monthly P&I payment calculated, you’ll then be able to calculate the APR, which you can do with an online calculator. Keep in mind that because you don’t know what your applicable APR loan fees will be, it can be wise to use a ballpark estimate. If the loan costs that will impact your APR are 2% of your loan amount and your loan amount is $200,000, your loan costs for calculating the APR will be $4,000.

💡 Quick Tip: Lowering your monthly payments with a mortgage refinance from SoFi can help you find money to pay down other debt, build your rainy-day fund, or put more into your 401(k).

Why You Need to be Careful When Using APR to Compare Mortgages

When you’re getting a mortgage, you will likely have the APRs for all the mortgage offers you’re considering. Your APR is important to consider because it factors in the expense of additional fees over the life of your mortgage. If you’re applying for a 30-year mortgage, those fees are spread over 30 years.

But do you plan to live in your home for the full 30 years of your mortgage and never refinance your mortgage? If you sell your home after five years, rather than staying for the duration of your 30-year loan, you’ll still have to pay for the loan fees (such as origination fees).

That’s why it’s important to consider and compare APRs when choosing a mortgage. If you plan on living in the home for a limited time, a lender that offers fewer fees might be a better choice than a lender with a low APR but lots of fees. You may want to consult with your financial advisor before making this decision.

When you’re mortgage shopping, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer, you also may want to proceed with caution when comparing the APRs of fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages if you are using an online calculator. The APR on adjustable-rate loans may not be an accurate representation of the cost of the loan since some calculators cannot anticipate the frequency or amounts of the interest rate changes.

Recommended: Tips When Shopping for a Mortgage

The Takeaway

When getting a home loan, your interest rate and APR, or annual percentage rate, are not the same thing. The APR can reflect the overall cost of the loan, including various fees, for instance.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your home-buying journey, the first step is taking stock of your mortgage options. Comparing each loan’s APR is a quick and easy way to see how your offers stack up although it isn’t the only factor to take into account.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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.


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How to Buy Homeowners Insurance in 2022

How to Buy Homeowners Insurance in 2023

Buying homeowners insurance involves a few simple steps that ensure you’re purchasing a policy tailored to your needs. By investing a little time, you’ll be rewarded with coverage that protects your home and your belongings at the right price. This holds true whether you’re buying a house and insurance for the first time or shopping around for a better rate.

Insurance can be tricky, and many policies have a flurry of exceptions when it comes to what’s covered and what isn’t. Having an insurance policy with certain kinds of exceptions can wind up costing you hundreds of dollars for coverage that might fall short when it’s needed.

Fortunately, you can avoid that scenario. Here, we’ll walk you through how to buy homeowners insurance as well as offer some tips on how to find the best rate on your policy this year.

5 Steps to Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

When shopping for homeowners insurance, it’s a good idea to compare similar policies. You want to be sure you’re reviewing what different insurers charge for policies with almost identical coverage.

You’ll also want to shop around to get the best deal you can. Policies from the same company can vary widely by geography, property type, and even between two different zip codes.

It’s also a smart move to compare some intangibles, such as a company’s reputation for customer service and claims satisfaction. They can have a big impact when it comes time to file a claim.

Now, let’s walk through the steps of how to shop for homeowners insurance.

Step 1: Decide How Much Coverage You Need

When deciding how much homeowners insurance coverage you need, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough coverage to replace your most important belongings; rebuild your house in the event it’s destroyed; and cover any liability for injuries that might occur on your property. Your policy will be there in case a fire, storm, or crime causes a loss.

In industry terms, homeowners insurance coverage for the aforementioned events is typically broken into four categories:

•   Personal property coverage: Insures against losses to personal property — including furniture, clothing and electronics — in the event of a covered incident.

•   Dwelling coverage: Covers the repair or replacement of your property and any attached structures, like a garage, fence, or any sheds.

•   Liability coverage: Protects against any medical or legal expenses that you may be liable for as a result of injuries that occurred on your property.

•   Additional living expense coverage (ALE or Loss of use coverage): Pays for temporary housing and related costs in the event you’re displaced from your home due to a covered loss.

Each of the coverages listed above are subject to their own insurance limits. These are calculated based on both the insurers’ proprietary formulas and the amount coverage you choose to purchase. Here’s a closer look at each kind of coverage and how much you might want to buy.

Personal Property Coverage

Just as the name suggests, personal property coverage covers the cost of any personal property that you would need replaced in the event of a covered loss. This can include all the contents of your home, including furniture, electronics, kitchenware, and jewelry.

Generally, you’ll want enough personal property coverage to cover the cost of replacing all of your important belongings. To help you calculate how much this might cost, create a written inventory of all your major belongings and their cost. This allows you to better estimate how much personal property coverage you need and gives your insurer a reference point for how much insurance you might need. You might even consider doing a video inventory to keep track of your property.

Bear in mind that not all items are covered under your home insurance policy. For example, any vehicles damaged while housed in your garage should be covered under your auto insurance. Additionally, rare and high-value items, like art, fine jewelry, and antiques, may be subject to value caps under your policy and may require separate/supplemental insurance policies for full coverage.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

Dwelling Coverage

Dwelling coverage covers the cost to repair or rebuild the building on your property, in addition to any attached structures, like garages, balconies, or fences. When you think about the dollar amount here, you probably want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario of totally rebuilding your home. Though rare, this kind of catastrophic incident can happen.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage helps shield you from lawsuits in the event you’re found liable for any accidents that occur on your property. These can range from slips and falls to any damage caused by falling trees from your property.

Generally, the more assets you have, the more liability insurance you’ll want to purchase. However, liability coverage will only pay out to a set dollar limit as listed on your policy, with you responsible for any balance. If you’re looking for added liability coverage, you may want to look into a personal umbrella policy.

Additional Living Expense Coverage

Additional living expense coverage, or loss of use coverage, pays for reasonable housing and living costs if you’re displaced for an extended period due to a covered event. Imagine that a storm sent a tree branch crashing through your roof and your bedrooms became uninhabitable — that’s the kind of situation that would lead you to move out and tap what’s sometimes called ALE coverage.

Typically, your loss of use coverage will encompass a fixed percentage of your dwelling coverage. Larger families may wish to opt for more coverage if your weekly living expenses are particularly burdensome.

Learn the Difference Between ACV, RCV, and GRC Coverage

Once you have some ballpark numbers in mind for the amount of coverage you need, you also need to decide what kind of coverage you want in terms of potential payout. There are three terms to know — ACV, RCV, and GRC — and these will impact how claim amounts are determined as well as your premiums.

•   Actual Cash Value (ACV): Typically the cheapest option, ACV calculates your home and property’s value based on its current market value minus depreciation. Depreciation occurs naturally over time. Let’s say you had a 10-year-old refrigerator that had cost $1,000 when you bought it. After 10 years, its “cash value” might be, say, $100, so that is what ACV would reimburse you if it were destroyed during a covered event. This would not enable you to go out and buy a similar unit.

•   Replacement Cost Value (RCV): This policy is more expensive. In the event of loss, it insures your home for the cost it takes to rebuild it like new and replace the items in it at their full cost. Unlike actual cash value, RCV does not factor in depreciation.

•   Guaranteed Replacement Cost (GRC): The most expensive policy of the bunch, this policy insures your home and property for its replacement cost value plus a certain percentage over that amount, which can help protect against inflation.

💡 Quick Tip: If you have a mortgage, a homeowners policy may be required by your lender. Surprisingly, unlike auto insurance, there is no legal mandate to carry insurance on your home.

Step 2: Verify Details About Your Home

Before an insurer can give you a quote, you’ll need to provide them with details about you and your home so they can accurately price your home insurance policy.

Keep in mind that insurance agents will take steps to verify the accuracy of this information, so be sure to answer to the best of your ability. Here are some of the most commonly requested details:

•   Property size and foundation

•   Roof type, material, and age

•   Age of structure and building materials

•   Age and type of electrical, plumbing, and heating system

•   Presence of any adjacent structures, pools, fences, etc.

•   Presence and number of pets

•   Intended use of property (rental, secondary, or primary home)

You can ask your real estate agent to forward you this information or obtain it from publicly available sources. Often, many of these details can be found in your home inspection and appraisal reports. Remember to disclose any improvements or renovations that have been made over time.

Step 3: Consider Whether You Need Added Coverage

A typical homeowners insurance policy goes a long way towards protecting you from damage to or loss of your home and property. But it doesn’t cover everything. Acquaint yourself with these details and decide if you want additional coverage.

According to FEMA, a common myth among many Americans is that homeowners insurance covers flooding. However, it does not.

In fact, here’s a list of common events that are often NOT covered under most home insurance:

•   Floods

•   Earthquakes

•   Sinkholes

•   Water and sewer backup

It’s important to review your insurance policy for any exceptions or issues not mentioned that you may want covered. You may be able to purchase additional insurance coverage for the above-mentioned issues as part of a separate policy, or what’s known as an endorsement, on your existing home insurance policy.

Also remember that personal property coverage often has a reimbursement cap on valuable items, which may limit the recoverable amount on certain rare or valuable goods. If you inherited valuable artwork or saved like crazy to afford a luxury watch, you may want to purchase additional endorsements for these.

Step 4: Take Advantage of Any Discounts Your Insurer Offers

Before finalizing your policy, check with the insurer about any discounts they offer and how many you might qualify for.

These can take them form of bundling discounts, which reward you for purchasing other policies (e.g. auto and life) through the same insurer; retention discounts which reward you for staying with a single insurer for an extended period of time; and even safety discounts, which reduce your premiums based on various improvements that you make to your home (e.g. adding a security system).

Each insurer has its own batch of discounts that you may be eligible for. Make sure to check with each potential policy provider to confirm that you’re getting the best deal possible.

Recommended: How Much Is Homeowners Insurance?

Step 5: Finalize Your Policy and Figure Out Your Payments

Now that you’ve selected the coverage you want, at the price you want, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your homeowners insurance policy.

First, you’ll want to set your insurance policy deductible, which is the amount you agree to be personally responsible for before the insurance company pays out on any claims. This is similar to a copay on a health insurance plan and is charged on a per-claim basis.

Generally, higher deductibles lead to lower insurance premiums, because they transfer some of the financial burden of paying for claims from the insurer to you.

While you will end up paying more out of pocket when you need to file a claim, this can be a smart financial decision for newer homes and low-risk areas. Of course, this option will only make sense for you though if you are confident you can cover that deductible in an emergency.

Second, you’ll need to decide how you wish to pay your insurance premiums. Policies are typically written on an annual basis and can be paid on a monthly or quarterly basis, or even in one lump sum. Some insurers offer added discounts if you decide to pay the entire amount upfront.

Finally, you’ll need to set the date on which your policy takes effect. Generally, this should be the same day you take possession of the property if you’re buying a new home. If you’re switching insurance providers, it should coincide with the end date of the previous policy, without any lapse in coverage.

💡 Quick Tip: Your insurance needs depend on your age, dependents, assets, possessions, and economic situation. As your circumstances change, so should your insurance plans.

The Takeaway

Buying the right homeowners insurance ensures that your home is protected if disaster ever strikes. That said, shopping for a policy can feel overwhelming at first since there are a lot of new terms to be learned, figures to calculate, and decisions to be made.

As you gather the information and quotes you need to make your choice, you’ll be rewarded with a policy that suits your needs, is priced just right, and can give you peace of mind.

If you’re a new homebuyer, SoFi Protect can help you look into your insurance options. SoFi and Lemonade offer homeowners insurance that requires no brokers and no paperwork. Secure the coverage that works best for you and your home.

Find affordable homeowners insurance options with SoFi Protect.

Photo credit: iStock/JLco – Julia Amaral

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Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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.


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10 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid & 6 Smart Moves to Make

Buying a house for the first time is a major life moment, both emotionally and financially. For many people, it’s the biggest investment they will ever make. With the median price of a house hitting $436,800 in 2023 (ka-ching), it’s not a purchase to be made lightly.

If you’re buying your first home, you may expect it to be the same as those quick, fun-and-done experiences portrayed on reality TV shows. In truth, however, it’s a process with a steep learning curve and many moving parts, from figuring out your home-shopping budget to satisfying your final mortgage contingencies. There can be minor hiccups and major missteps along the way.

There are so many things to know as a first-time homebuyer, it’s better to educate yourself in advance rather than learn as you go. To that end, this guide will cover the 10 most common first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid, including:

•   Not knowing how much house you can afford

•   Failing to include other factors, like insurance and repairs, in your budget

•   Waiving an inspection because you’ve found your dream house

10 Home-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Home-buying mistakes are easy to make, especially when buying a house for the first time. Review these 10 common first-time homebuyer mistakes before searching for your dream home — so you can ensure you’ll avoid them.

Home-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

1. Forgetting to Check Your Credit

When’s the last time you checked your credit? It’s absolutely crucial to know your credit score when buying a house.

Why? You may not qualify for a mortgage if your credit score is too low. For most types of mortgage loans, you’ll need a 620, though lenders also consider other factors, like your down payment and your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. You’ll get better rates if you wait to apply for a mortgage until your score is 740 or above.

The lesson? Don’t let a low credit score rule out buying your first home, but if it’s on the lower side, maybe consider taking some time to build your credit score before shopping for a house.

Recommended: Tips for Buying a House with Bad Credit

2. Not Being Realistic About What You Can Afford

Before you start looking at listings online or working with a real estate agent — and certainly before you try to get preapproved for a mortgage — calculate how much house you can afford.

Once you know the number, avoid looking at houses above your limit.

So how do you calculate how much house you can afford? There are a few easy methods:

•   DTI: Think about your debt-to-income ratio (your debts divided by your gross income). When adding a monthly mortgage payment into your current DTI calculation, the percentage shouldn’t pass 43%. That’s typically the highest ratio mortgage lenders will accept.

•   28/36 rule: With this method, your max mortgage payment should be 28% of your gross income, and your total debts — mortgage and otherwise — should be no more than 36% of your gross income.

•   35/45 rule: Spend no more than 35% of your gross income on debt and no more than 45% of your after-tax income on debt.

•   25% after-tax rule: After adjusting for taxes, your mortgage should not account for more than 25% of your income.

💡 Quick Tip: You deserve a more zen mortgage. SoFi Mortgage Loan Officers are dedicated to closing your loan on time — backed by a $5,000 guarantee offer.‡

3. Putting Too Much or Too Little Down

In their eagerness to become homeowners, many first-time buyers make the mistake of going overboard and directing every bit of money they have to the purchase.

If you have to drain your emergency savings to manage the down payment on a home, you might want to dial down the amount or wait and save up a bit more. Consider what could happen if the home needs a costly repair or, worse, if you or someone in your family suddenly has an expensive medical bill. That’s a good example of when to use an emergency fund.

Conventional wisdom says to put 20% down (and it does help you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). But with housing costs so high, that’s all but impossible for most homebuyers. Instead, focus on the minimum down payments required for the type of loan you’re considering:

•   Conventional loan: As low as 3%

•   FHA loan: As low as 3.5%

•   VA loan: As low as 0%

Remember, though, that if you put down very little, you’ll need to borrow more. Your monthly payments will be higher, and you could pay more interest over the life of the loan.

4. Forgetting About Homeowners Insurance and Property Taxes

Your monthly mortgage loan payment is more than just the cost of your home. You’ll also need to cover the cost of homeowners insurance and property taxes, which are often paid into an escrow account. Depending on the type of mortgage and how much you’ve paid, you may also have to pay for PMI. Together, these all increase your monthly payment — sometimes substantially. When you look at a home, the real estate agent should be able to show you property tax history so you can get an idea of what you’d pay each year. You can also work with an insurance agent to simulate insurance quotes for various homes you’re considering.

Property taxes will change from year to year, and you can always change your homeowners insurance to lower the cost, even if you pay for it through the escrow account. It may be a good idea to bundle home and auto policies together to take advantage of a discount.

Recommended: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do You Need?

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

5. Failing to Budget for Home Repairs and Maintenance

Forgetting to budget for homeowners insurance and property taxes is one of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes — but those expenses aren’t the only ones people forget to budget for when buying a house for the first time.

If you’ve been accustomed to calling a landlord whenever something breaks in a rental, reset your expectations. Now, you’ll have to take care of basic home maintenance — like replacing air filters, cleaning the gutter, resealing wood decks, and cleaning the chimney — and repairs. When the air conditioner is blowing hot air, the oven stops working, or your roof starts leaking, you’re on the hook for the repairs.

Some issues may be covered by homeowners insurance (but there’s still a deductible!), but other issues caused by general wear and tear are solely your responsibility. And then there are other possible costs, like higher utility bills and homeowners association fees, that can eat into your budget.

6. Not Hiring a Qualified Home Inspector

It may be tempting to waive the home inspection when you’re trying to buy the home of your dreams — especially if you have some stiff competition to be the winning bidder for an in-demand property.

Sorry to say, this is a risky strategy. A home inspection might reveal critical information about the condition of a home and its systems, from electrical problems to hidden mold; from a failing septic system to a leaky roof. What you learn in an inspection could reveal that your dream home is actually a money pit.

What’s more, your inspection report might serve as a useful negotiating tool: You could use it to ask for repairs or to work out a better price from the seller. And if you really aren’t happy with the inspection results, you may be able to use it to cancel the offer to buy.

And in the grand scheme of things, an inspection isn’t too expensive. The average home inspection costs $300 to $500.

Recommended: The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

7. Overlooking the Neighborhood and Surrounding Area

You may have fallen in love with a specific home, but when you buy a house, you’re also buying the neighborhood that comes with it, so to speak.

How are the surrounding properties maintained? Do the people seem friendly? If you have kids or are planning on having them, do you see other families with young children? How are the schools in the area? What’s the traffic like? How’s the noise level? What restaurants and stores are nearby?

Think about your ideal community — and then try to find a dream home in that type of community.

8. Letting Your Emotions Get the Best of You

Buying your first home or any home thereafter can be a roller coaster, so it’s important to prepare yourself psychologically as well as financially. If you’ve ever talked to someone buying a house, you know there are potential pitfalls all through the purchasing process.

You might fall in love with the perfect house and find it’s way over your budget. You might get annoyed with the sellers or their real estate agent, especially during the negotiation process. You might disagree with your partner about priorities.

All of these scenarios can cause a person to behave emotionally. It might make you want to walk away from a great deal. It might lead you to barrel ahead with a purchase, even when warning lights are flashing.

Our advice to a first-time homebuyer? Recognizing that this will be a challenging and, at times, stressful process (especially because you are new to it), take a deep breath, and proceed calmly. Find tools that help you move ahead with patience and a sense of calm, best as you can. With your eye on the prize — namely, your first home — you’ll get there.

Recommended: Improving Your Relationship With Money

9. Not Considering Future Resale Value

Houses are more than a place to live — they’re an investment. While you certainly want to prioritize buying a home you’ll be happy in, it’s also a good idea to think about how much the property might be worth in five, 10, 15 years and beyond.

It’s impossible to predict the market, but you can feel more confident about strong future resale value by choosing a house with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a well-appointed kitchen, and a yard. Other features, like a finished basement or a garage, may also make it easier to sell the home in the future.

10. Not Having an Emergency Fund

One of the basic tenets of personal finance is building an emergency fund. And here’s some blunt advice for first-time homebuyers: You’re going to need an emergency fund.

House emergencies can happen at any time: A tree falls on your roof, a toilet starts to leak, your dog destroys the carpet, you name it. Having money socked away to cover these expenses is crucial when buying a home.

Dream Home Quiz

6 Smart Moves for First-Time Homebuyers

We’ve covered some of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes, so let’s shift gear to smart moves you can make when buying your first home.

1. Get Paperwork Moving ASAP

What do first-time homebuyers need when getting a mortgage? Here are some of the most common docs to start putting together:

•   Proof of income: Lenders will often want to see two months’ worth of pay stubs or bank statements that confirm your income. They’ll also want your tax returns from the previous two years.

•   Proof of funds: To take you seriously, lenders want to know you have enough money to cover a down payment and closing costs.

•   Proof of identification: This could include a government ID, a passport, or your driver’s license.

Early in the process, you can furnish this basic information to get prequalified at various lenders. They’ll also run a credit check during the prequalification process.

Being prequalified simply allows lenders to give you an idea of what types of mortgages (fixed rate vs. variable rate, 15-year vs. 30-year, etc.) you might get approved for. It’s not a promise of approval, but it does help set expectations as you start to browse listings.

💡 Quick Tip: Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.

2. Check Out First-Time Homebuyer Programs

It’s wise to shop around for a few different mortgage quotes, but it would be a rookie mistake to overlook some great, government-sponsored programs that make buying a house more affordable. These include:

•   FHA loans: These mortgages are designed for those with low to moderate incomes. They typically offer low down-payment requirements, low interest rates, and the ability to get approval even if you have a fair credit score.

•   USDA loans: These provide affordable mortgages to those with a lower income who are planning on buying a home in a qualifying rural area.

•   VA loans: These mortgages help those on active military duty, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. If you can check one of those boxes, you may be eligible for a home loan with no down payment requirement and no PMI.

3. Consider Additional Costs Beyond the Mortgage

As we’ve discussed above, the actual monthly house payment is not your only cost. Your full mortgage payment includes property taxes, homeowners insurance, and, potentially, PMI.

But before you even get to the point of making monthly payments, consider these upfront costs of buying a house:

•   Closing costs, which are traditionally paid for by the buyer.

•   Home inspections, which we highly recommend.

•   Moving costs, whether just renting a truck or hiring movers.

4. Get Preapproved

Mortgage prequalification isn’t a commitment for the lender or buyer — it’s just a first step. If you appear to meet a lender’s standards, you could move on to the preapproval stage.

Getting preapproved for a home loan involves submitting additional income and asset documentation for a more in-depth review of your finances.

Once the lender approves these aspects of your loan application, you’ll receive a conditional commitment for a designated loan amount — called a preapproval letter — and have a better idea of what your loan terms will be.

Mortgage preapproval can help demonstrate to sellers that you’ve completed the first step in getting a mortgage because your credit, income, and assets have already been reviewed by an underwriter. This can smooth the bidding process and could give you an edge over others in a competitive situation with multiple offers.

Recommended: How Long is a Mortgage Preapproval Good For?

5. Choose the Right Type of Mortgage

You may qualify for various types of mortgage loans. Spend some time researching the different types so you have a better understanding of how they’ll impact your payments for the next several decades.

For instance, you’ll want to know the difference between a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). You’ll also want to understand how a 15-year term affects your monthly payments when compared to a 30-year term — but also how a longer term increases the amount you’ll pay in interest.

Other mortgage types to understand include:

•   Conventional loans vs. government-issued loans

•   Conforming vs. nonconforming loans

•   Reverse mortgages, jumbo mortgages, and interest-only mortgages

6. Shop Around for the Best Mortgage Rates

Finally, remember that you don’t have to go with the first mortgage offer you get. It’s worth your while to get multiple offers so you can compare interest rates, down payment requirements, terms, and more.

The Takeaway

Buying a house for the first time can be a stressful experience, but remember: At the end of it all, you’ll have a place you can call yours. You’ll build equity over time, and the house may increase in value. Just make sure you research the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes so you know how to avoid them.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


What are some common mistakes first-time homebuyers make?

Some common home-buying mistakes for first-time homebuyers include forgetting to check (and improve) their credit, not calculating how much home they can actually afford, and forgetting to consider additional expenses, like inspections, homeowners insurance, property taxes, closing costs, and increased utilities. First-timers may also forget to consider the neighborhood as a whole or the future resale of the home.

What are the two largest obstacles for first-time homebuyers?

Two large obstacles for first-time homebuyers include rising housing prices and credit score requirements. Those who don’t already have equity in a current home may have more trouble coming up with a down payment on a new home. First-time homebuyers may also lack the credit score needed to get the best possible rate on a new mortgage.

What are three common mortgage mistakes?

Three common mortgage mistakes are 1) buying up to the limit you’re approved for rather than calculating how much you’re comfortable paying; 2) skipping the home inspection to expedite the process or make your offer more appealing to buyers; and 3) not considering related expenses you’ll have to budget for, including homeowners insurance, property taxes, and repairs and maintenance.

What are the most common mistakes that homebuyers make?

Homebuyers make a number of common mistakes, such as making an unnecessarily large down payment, forgetting to budget for related costs, buying more house than they can afford, and not shopping around for the best mortgage loans.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi On-Time Close Guarantee: If all conditions of the Guarantee are met, and your loan does not close on or before the closing date on your purchase contract accepted by SoFi, and the delay is due to SoFi, SoFi will provide you $2,000.^ Terms and conditions apply. This Guarantee is available only for loan applications submitted after 6/15/22 for the purchase of a primary residence. Please discuss terms of this Guarantee with your loan officer. The property must be owner-occupied, single-family residence (no condos), and the loan amount must meet the Fannie Mae conventional guidelines. No bank-owned or short-sale transactions. To qualify for the Guarantee, you must: (1) Have employment income supported by W-2, (2) Receive written approval by SoFi for the loan and you lock the rate, (3) submit an executed purchase contract on an eligible property at least 30 days prior to the closing date in the purchase contract, (4) provide to SoFi (by upload) all required documentation within 24 hours of SoFi requesting your documentation and upload any follow-up required documents within 36 hours of the request, and (5) pay for and schedule an appraisal within 48 hours of the appraiser first contacting you by phone or email. The Guarantee will be void and not paid if any delays to closing are due to factors outside of SoFi control, including delays scheduling or completing the appraisal appointment, appraised value disputes, completing a property inspection, making repairs to the property by any party, addressing possible title defects, natural disasters, further negotiation of or changes to the purchase contract, changes to the loan terms, or changes in borrower’s eligibility for the loan (e.g., changes in credit profile or employment), or if property purchase does not occur. SoFi may change or terminate this offer at any time without notice to you. ^To redeem the Guarantee if conditions met, see documentation provided by loan officer.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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.


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