How Much of a Down Payment Do You Really Need?

A recent survey by Zelman & Associates revealed that 38% of those between the ages of 25-29 years old and 42% of those between the ages of 30-34 years old believe that a minimum of 15% is required as a down payment to purchase a home. A recent questionnaire administered by Freddie Mac showed that over 50% of all respondents thought 20% was required as a down payment.

In actually, a purchaser may be able to put down far less.

Freddie Mac, in a recent blog post addressing the issue, confirmed that there is misinformation regarding the amount necessary when determining the down payment for a home purchase:

“Did you know 40 percent of today’s homebuyers using mortgage financing are making down payments that are less than 10 percent? And how about this: since 2010, the number of people putting down less than 10 percent for conventional loans has grown three fold.  So, not only are low down payment options real, they represent a significant portion of today’s purchases.”

In a separate Executive Perspectives, Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management explained further:

  • A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  • Qualified borrowers can further reduce the down payment coming out of their own pockets to 3 percent by lining up gifts from family or grants or loans from non-profits or public agencies.

Ms. Boyle goes on to explain:

“Letting more consumers know how down payments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 or 10 percent.”

The bottom line is, if you are saving for either your first home or that perfect move-up dream house, make sure you know all your options. There are programs the lenders I work with have available that not only offer a great rate, but low down payments that can even translate to lower monthly payments. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Asking the Right People the Right Questions

When you find the exact home you’ve been looking for, take the opportunity to talk to the neighbors. Your potential neighbors may be able to give insight into the neighborhood as well as the house, before deciding to buy. I came across a few ideas that can help jump start your conversation with these neighbors. As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I like my buyers to be 100% prepared, and that means making sure they are as satisfied with the neighborhood as they are with the house.

4 Questions to Ask Neighbors Before Buying a Home by Patricia-Anne Tom. Copyright © 1995-2014. National Association of REALTORS® and Move, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Top Home Décor Trends for 2014

Should you put in a black and white kitchen, paint your dining room radiant orchid and add a large, extravagant bath?

Staying abreast of the latest trends in home décor helps you extend the life span of your next remodeling project. Here are some of the top trends for 2014 in home remodeling and redecorating:

Kitchen Trends

Kitchens featuring black countertops, open shelves or glass-front cabinets and darker paint tones are popular with homeowners, according to Zillow Digs’ Home Design Trend Report for 2014.

But Elle Décor  predicts jewel tones and rich colors will dominate kitchen design in the year ahead.

If you can afford to update again in a few years, you can take the risk of putting in trendy countertops that look like malachite, agate or other stones.

But, if you’re going to have to live with your kitchen for many years or you plan to sell in a few years and don’t want to have to remodel again, stick with neutrals for countertops, walls, flooring and cabinetry. Save the bolder patterns for less expensive accents like curtains, rugs and pillows.

Industrial Accents

Sophisticated industrial revolution accents will remain strong next year, according to the Delta Faucet design team. This trend includes unique materials that look like they came from an architectural salvage yard.

To build this look on a budget, keep the accents in their simplest form. Light fixtures stripped down to nothing more than sockets and wires, open metal shelving stacked with cast iron cookware and reclaimed wood elements can easily reinforce this look with minimal cost.

Navy Blue Or Radiant Orchid?

House Beautiful says  the most popular color for home décor in 2014 is blue. “From rich, saturated colors like navy and indigo to bright, vibrant shades like peacock blue and cobalt, blue will continue to reign supreme in the coming year,” design blogger Paloma Contreras told the magazine.

The color experts at Pantone disagree and choose Radiant Orchid as the official color of the year. Can’t make up your mind which you like? Get them both with York Wallpaper’s Martini print.

USB Sockets

With so many devices to charge, homeowners are replacing a few of their home’s traditional electric outlets with outlets that pair one regular outlet and two USB ports to power cell phones, gaming devices and computers, say the design experts at Neil Kelly Remodeling in Portland.

Swapping a regular electric outlet for a USB outlet (get them at any hardware store) is simple for a do-it-yourselfer who understands home electric wiring. Neil Kelly recommends looking for a socket that has a smart sensor to shut off the power when your device is fully charged.

Small, Efficient Bathrooms

The downsizing trend isn’t just influencing homes, it’s also showing up in the bathrooms inside those homes, says Remodeling blogger Lauren Hunter.

Manufacturers have responded to the desire to right-size homes by coming out with smaller-scale bathroom fixtures.

Green living has inspired water-saving fixtures that don’t sacrifice performance. And an increasing number of multigenerational families are fueling a trend toward ageless bathroom design to ensure everyone can use a bathroom for years to come.

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