Saving for a down payment may seem overwhelming, but there are several steps that you can take to help make the savings process go more quickly than you thought. If buying a home is in your future, consider these five ways to save for a down payment to help you along the way.
Reducing high-interest debt, such as that which is associated with a credit card, can help you to save money for a down payment. Due to the expense associated with these high-interest debts, you are better off using your extra money to pay them off before you start putting money away into savings. Start the process by paying the debt with the highest interest rate and paying off the entire balance before moving onto the next debt.
Borrow from Retirement Savings
Borrowing from a 401(k) or an IRA can go a long ways toward helping you gather the funds you need for your down payment. Many company-sponsored 401(k) programs allow for borrowing against the savings in order to purchase a home. Check with your Human Resources or Payroll department to find out if this is an option for you.
If you have an IRA, tax laws allow you to withdraw up to $10,000 to purchase your first home. If you are married and you and your spouse are both first-time buyers, you can each borrow $10,000 to put toward the down payment. To qualify as a first time home buyer, you simply need to show that you have not owned a principal residence within the past three years.
Seek a Family Gift
Family members or friends may be willing to give you a cash gift to help with the purchase of a home. In this case, you will have to include the amount of the gift on your loan application. Tax laws also allow thousands of dollars to be gifted without either the giver or the recipient being taxed. In 2017, the cap was set at $14,000.
Sell Your Investments
If you have investments, such as CDs, stocks or bonds, now might be the time to cash them out so you can gather together the funds necessary for a down payment. Or, if you know that the home purchase is still several months to a year away, consider opening different certificates of deposit at varying maturity dates in order to maximize your earnings. This process, known as laddering, gives you the flexibility to adjust your savings as the rates change. This also makes it possible for you to lock your investments in when the rates are high.
Use Special Programs
Special lending programs can also help you with getting the funds you need for a down payment. Several nonprofit and community groups are available to help buyers who are struggling with getting the funds together for a down payment. These include the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Administration and the US Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are the government-sponsored agencies that purchase mortgages and package them as investments, also have programs available to aid first-time homebuyers.