- Wait until you save up enough money for a large down payment and closing costs. This way you get a lower monthly mortgage payment.
- Don’t wait: buy your home today, enjoy the personal and financial benefits of homeownership now. Finance as much of the price of the home as the bank will lend you: use very little of your own money.
I subscribe to the first concept.
I believe it’s a fantastic idea to save up the money, and get the lowest monthly payment. Who wants a large monthly mortgage payment? The choice of course is that your struggle is in the years it takes to save up the money. I definitely believe in that idea: you see a real benefit from your years of hard work, sacrifice and saving.
Here’s the problem with that line of thinking: we live in the NY Metro area, one of the highest cost-of-living areas in all the United States. Even if you were to live on the most absurdly frugal budget, work three jobs seven days a week, and save every penny of your money, it could be a long, long while before you save up the considerable monies needed for a “large” down payment and the closing costs.
Start with the closing costs: New York State has among the highest closing costs in the nation. On average, 4.5-5% of the purchase price is money allocated JUST to closing costs.
Now to the “large” down payment: because rates are so low, if you are like most of my clients and you want to see a substantial reduction in your monthly mortgage expense (let’s say, $600 or so) then you’re going to need a LOT of money down. In dollars and cents that means, if my proposed mortgage payment is $3100 a month and I want to pay no more than $2500 a month, I’ll need a whopping $94,900 towards the downpayment! Holy cow!
Even if you could work three jobs, seven days, live super-frugal, and bank every penny, the average family would still need to wait 4 years or more to save up that kind of money (assuming you could put away $30,000 a year).
So, while I love the first concept of waiting/saving, I live in the real world.
It’s the rare individual or family that can manage that strict of a lifestyle to save such money. That’s why I’ve always specialized in low down payment mortgages. Because in the real world of the NY Metro area, we just can’t get that kind of a leg up on housing. Prices go up, interest rates change, etc, etc.
Financing the whole shebang (purchase price and some of the closing costs) seems like a crazy idea when you see the numbers (monthly payment), but realistically it works to your benefit.
The mortgage interest is tax deductible for most homeowners (please consult with your tax professional). Your take home pay increases because you own a home! You don’t have to live a no-frills lifestyle sacrificing for something that seems so far away and unattainable. You can have your home, improve your life both with the real financial benefits and the intangible benefits (pride of ownership, financial awareness) that come with homeownership.
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Happy House Hunting!