MARGARET O'SULLIVAN | Reading Real Estate, Wakefield Real Estate, Stoneham Real Estate


If you’re hoping to buy a house in the near future, you’ll want to focus on saving for a down payment.

Down payments are a way to let a lender know that you are a low-risk investment, and a way to save money on interest over the term of your loan.

If you have your other finances in order--a good credit score and stable income--there’s a good chance that making a 20% or more down payment will land you a low interest rate that can save you thousands while you pay off your loan.

How large should my down payment be?

The larger the down payment you can afford, the more money you’ll likely save in the long run. While there are ways to get a loan with no or very small down payments, these aren’t always ideal.

First, if you put less than 20% down on your home loan, you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI. These are monthly payments that you make in addition to the interest that is accrued on your loan.

So, if you don’t put any money down on your home, you’ll accrue more interest over your term length and you’ll pay PMI on top of that.

What affects your minimum down payment amount?

Lenders take a number of factors into consideration when determining your risk. If you’re eligible for a first-time home owners loan, a veteran’s loan, or a USDA loan, your loan can be guaranteed by the government. This means you can likely pay a lower down payment while still receiving a reasonable interest rate.

When applying for a mortgage, be sure to reach out to multiple lenders and shop around for the rates that work for you. Many lenders use slightly different criteria to determine your eligibility to pay a lower down payment.

Other things that affect your minimum down payment include:

  • Credit score

  • Location of the home you want to buy

  • Value of the mortgage

Saving for a down payment

You’ll get the most value out of your mortgage if you put more money down. However, if you’re currently living in a high-rent area, it could mean that it’s in your best interest to get out of your apartment and start building equity in the form of homeownership.

If you want to buy a home within the next year or two, there are a few ways you can help increase your savings.

First, determine how much you need to save. Depending on your housing needs and the current market, everyone will have different requirements. Do some home shopping in your area online and look for homes that are within your spending limits. Remember that you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing (mortgage, property taxes, etc.)

Next, find out what a 20% down payment on that home would be, adjusting for inflation.

Once you have the amount you need to save, remember to leave yourself enough of an emergency fund in your savings account to last you a month or two.


Mortgage interest rates have a remarkable effect on the overall long-term cost of buying a property through financing. Mortgage borrowers are looking for the highest possible rates while lenders have to manage their risk by charging interest rates. Borrowers with good credit histories and stable finances are those who can access a mortgage with lower interest rates. The financial status of borrowers has a significant impact on the interest they can get; government fiscal policy and other economic factors can affect mortgage rates on a global level. Below are some of the factors that can affect your mortgage interest rates:

Inflation 

Inflation causes the price to rise gradually. It is a critical factor in the overall economy and an essential element for mortgage lenders. It reduces the purchasing power of dollars. And, mortgage lenders manage the interest rates such that it will be able to withstand the reduction of purchasing power through inflation to make sure that there is a real net profit on their interest returns.

The Level of Economic Growth

The gross domestic product and the employment rates are the economic growth indicators that have a remarkable effect on mortgage rates. When economic growth rates increase, there is higher income, and there is an increase in the level of consumer's spending which translates to a rise in consumers seeking mortgage loans. 

Federal Reserve Monetary Policy

The monetary policy of the Federal Reserve Bank is one of the essential factors that affect mortgage interest rates and the overall economy. The Federal Reserve Bank does not stipulate a specific price in the mortgage market, but the establishment of the federal funds' rates and the adjustment of money supply upward or downward have a pronounced effect on the mortgage interest rates that are available to borrowers.

Generally, a rise in the supply of money pressures rates downward while a reduction in money supply puts upward pressure on rates.

Housing Market Condition

The conditions and trends in the housing markets can influence mortgage rates. When there is a decrease in the number of new constructions, there is will a reduction in home purchases which automatically leads to a decline in demand for mortgages. This situation makes the interest rates to reduce. Another trend that affects the mortgage rate is the number of consumers renting an apartment instead of buying a home.

The rise and decline of mortgage interest rates operate based on the basic rules of demand and supply. All the factors mentioned above have a pronounced influence on mortgage rates. Most importantly, your financial standing affects your mortgage rate. It is essential to speak to a financial advisor before deciding on starting a home purchase and mortgage process.


The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) refers to mortgage refinancing as a crucial aspect of all mortgages. This is partly because comparatively, low mortgage interest rates have encouraged homeowners to restructure their financial situations using their home equity. Homeowners should base their refinancing decision on their circumstances rather than mortgage interest rates. Here are tips to consider when considering refinancing your mortgage: 

Home Equity

You need to have home equity before you can even consider refinancing your home mortgage. Home values are steadily rising which means that with conventional lenders, you can have enough equity to get a loan. Most lenders will allow a homeowner with at least 20% equity to get credit quickly.

Credit Score 

In recent years, lenders have made the requirement for loan approval stricter. Therefore, some consumers with good credit may not qualify for the lowest interest rates. Typically, the acceptable credit score by most lenders is 760 and above. Borrowers whose credit scores are not up to the satisfactory score may still obtain a new loan but with higher fees or interest rates.

Refinancing Cost

Refinancing costs usually take between three to five percent of the loan amount. Borrowers can look for ways to reduce this cost or incorporate it into the loan. The cost can also be rolled into a new loan if you have enough equity. With some lenders, you are likely to pay an interest rate that is slightly higher to balance the closing cost when you take a loan with them. Make sure that you negotiate and ask several lenders so that you get the best fees for your refinancing loan.

Rates vs. Term 

A borrower needs to have a goal when refinancing to know the exact mortgage product that is most favorable. If all you want is to reduce your monthly payment to the minimum, a loan with a long-term interest rate will be beneficial. If your goal is to pay a reduced interest rate over a short period, you should consider the lowest interest rate in the shortest term. 

Break-Even Point

Before deciding to refinance your mortgage, determine the break-even point. The break-even point is the time at which your monthly savings have covered your refinancing cost. Beyond this point, your monthly savings belong to you. This also means you know how long it will take before your refinancing makes sense if you intend to sell or move from the home in some years.

Mortgage refinancing can be quite confusing, so you need to be sure you completely understand the terms and conditions. Do your research and also speak to a financial planner to give you professional advice.


Once you have gone through the pre-approval process and have narrowed down your home search, there’s a good chance you’ll soon find a place that you want to make an offer on. This can seem like a huge step for any first time homebuyer. Even seasoned home buyers feel butterflies when the time comes to make an offer on a home they love. Before you even start your home search, you should become educated on how to make a good offer in order to land the property that you really want. There’s so many factors that effect your offer including the surrounding properties and the current state of the market. Here are a few very important pieces of advice that you should heed in order to have a successful time securing a home and closing the deal. 

Craft A Persuasive Offer

In many areas there’s a low inventory of homes and a high number of those seeking to buy. This means that you’re not guaranteed to get a property that you have made an offer on. Lowball offers might not be at all competitive and even insulting to sellers in certain markets. Often, you may need to make an offer of more than the asking price if you’re in love with a home. By working with your real estate agent and doing the right research, you can craft an offer on a home that will be compelling for sellers.    

Decide On Your Contingencies 

Once an offer has been accepted, it’s time to get to work on those contingencies. Be especially mindful of financing contingencies. If something falls through in the process, you’ll want to be sure you can get the deposit you made back. Also keep in mind that sellers love reliable buyers who have already been preapproved.  

Home inspection contingencies are another area of importance. After you sign the purchase agreement and the inspection is complete, you’re allowed to ask the seller to make repairs or provide you with a counter offer. While this can be one of the more nerve-wracking aspects of home buying, it has many positives. Home inspections protect buyers from purchasing a home that they can’t live with in cases of extreme mold, termites and other environmental and structural issues. 

The appraisal contingency is also important. In order for you to qualify for a loan, the property must be appraised. The property must be valued at or above the purchase price. A loan will only be approved by a lender up to the appraised value. If your home loan is $400,000 but your home of choice is appraised at $390,000, you’ll have a problem.       

Your Finances Matter Until You Get To The Closing Table

Don’t go crazy with all kinds of purchases before you reach the closing table. Opening a new credit account at your favorite furniture store, for example, could lead to a disastrous surprise on closing day. Hold off on big purchases until after you secure your home. Also avoid making large transfers or deposits from your bank account. don’t do anything to negatively affect your credit score

  

Know What To Bring To The Closing

Don’t show up to the closing for your home purchase unprepared. You’ll need to have the following items: 


  • Photo ID
  • Checkbook
  • Cosigners 



Think Ahead


Be sure that you think of the future when you’re purchasing your home. You’ll need to have enough cash flow to pay for things like property taxes, home insurance, utility bills and even new furniture for your home. Plan your future mortgage payments accordingly. Some companies have payments that are monthly or bimonthly. 


While buying a home is a huge undertaking, with the right plans in place, the process will be as seamless as possible. With the right plans, the moving truck will be pulling into the driveway before you know it.      


You may have heard the term “escrow” in your experience with real estate. You might know it’s an account, but what exactly does it do for you as a buyer? An escrow account is what your lender uses to make payments on things like property taxes, insurance, and more. The lender collects your monthly mortgage payment, and part of that cash goes into an escrow account. 


This type of account is an excellent option for homeowners because your bills relating to being a homeowner will all be paid without you having to do anything. It makes budgeting a breeze because there aren’t any complicated calculations involved. Every month, your lender collects 1/12 of the estimated tax bill and insurance cost for the home. The rest of your mortgage payment covers the principal and interest on the loan of the house.


Are Escrow Accounts Mandatory?


You’ll find that most lenders require you to have an escrow account. The purpose of the account is to keep the home safe as collateral for the loan. The bank has an interest in the proper insurance behind the property. The taxes also need to be paid on time in order to keep the property in good standing. If the taxes aren’t paid, a tax lien will be placed against the house. 


Everything In One Place


You’ll receive an annual statement from your lender that will show you how much money was collected and placed in your escrow account. Escrow payments often change because insurance premiums and taxes tend to change quite frequently. The amount being put into escrow may change a few times throughout the year. The lender keeps track of all this for you, saving you some time. 


Bills That Need To Be Paid


Whether you have an escrow account or not the bills that are included must be paid one way or another. It’s a good idea to speak with your lender before you buy a home to find out that bank’s procedures around these insurance and tax payments. Property tax and home insurance are items that you’ll need to budget for regardless of how your lender does things. An escrow account can be much more convenient for many buyers. 


Escrow is just another one of the many essential terms that you’ll come across as a homebuyer. Knowing the advantages and purpose of the account helps you to be informed as you dive into the home buying process. 





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