September 11, 2017 | Tracie Ohlsen
Is a 20 percent down payment still the best financial decision?
You've most likely heard the rule: Save  for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20% is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.
But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment-as low as 3%-rather than parting with so much cash up front, even is you have the money available.
The Downside
The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You'll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you'll pay. You'll also be offered a lesser loan amount the borrowers who have a 20% down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.
The Upside
The national average for home appreciation is about 5%. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20% or 3%, the increase in equity is the same. If you're looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
The Happy Medium
Of course, your home payment options aren't binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20% and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.


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