The Peggy Patenaude Team | Andover Real Estate, North Andover Real Estate, Boxford Real Estate


Buying a home is a big financial endeavor that takes planning and saving. Aside from a down payment, hopeful homeowners will also need to save for closing costs and moving expenses.

When it comes to the down payment amount you’ll need to save, many of us have often heard 20%, the magic number. However, there are a number of different types of mortgages that have different down payment requirements.

To complicate matters, mortgages vary somewhat between lenders and can change over time, with the ebb and flow of the housing market.

So, the best way to approach the process of saving for a down payment is to think about your needs in a home, and reach out to lenders to start comparing rates.

However, there are a few constants when it comes to down payments that are worth considering when shopping for a mortgage.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about some characteristics of down payments, discuss where the 20% number comes from, and give you some tips on finding the best mortgage for you.

Do I need 20% saved for a down payment?

With the median home prices in America sitting around $200,000 and many areas averaging much higher, it may seem like 20% is an unattainable savings goal.

The good news is that many Americans hoping to buy their first home have several options that don’t involve savings $40,000 or more.

So, where does that number come from?

Most mortgage lenders will want to be sure that lending to would be a smart investment. In other words, they want to know that they’ll earn back the amount they lend you plus interest. They determine how risky it is to lend to you by considering a number of factors.

First and foremost is your credit score. Lenders want to see that you’re paying your bills on time and aren’t overwhelmed by debt. Second, they will ask you for verification of your income to determine how much you can realistically hope to pay each month. And, finally, they’ll consider the amount you’re putting down.

If you have less than 20% of the mortgage amount saved for your down payment, you’ll have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is an extra fee must be paid in addition to your interest each month.

First-time buyers rarely put 20% or more down

Thanks to FHA loans guaranteed by the federal government, as well as other loan assistance programs like USDA loans and mortgages insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs, buying a home is usually within reach even if you don’t have several thousands saved.

On average, first-time buyers put closer to 6% down on their mortgage. However, they will have to pay PMI until they’ve paid off 20% of their home.


So, if you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, saving should be a priority. But, don’t worry too much if you don’t think you can save the full 20% in advance.


Entering the real estate market and buying your dream home may seem simple at first. However, problems may arise that make it tough to secure your ideal house at a price that matches your budget.

When it comes to finding the right home at the right price, it helps to prepare. Fortunately, we're here to help you get ready to enter the housing market and ensure you can quickly and effortlessly discover your dream residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to simplify the homebuying process.

1. Create Homebuying Criteria

Purchasing a house is rarely easy, particularly for a property buyer who has no idea how to kick off a home search. But if you establish homebuying criteria, you can speed up the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.

Allocating time and resources to create homebuying criteria is essential because it forces you to consider where you want to live and what amenities you want to find in your dream residence. Plus, once you have homebuying criteria at your disposal, you can start your home search and move one step closer to acquiring your ideal residence.

2. Obtain Home Financing

Home financing is paramount, particularly for property buyers who want to avoid the risk of spending too much to purchase a house. Thankfully, banks and credit unions can teach you about a variety of mortgage options and help you secure the financing you need to buy a home.

Typically, a lender will meet with you and outline your mortgage options. It also will explain the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and respond to any of your mortgage concerns and questions. Then, after you review your mortgage options, a lender will help you make an informed home financing decision.

Don't wait to get home financing, either. If you have home financing in hand when you launch a home search, you may be better equipped than other buyers to quickly submit an offer to purchase a home.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

For those who want to avoid challenges throughout the homebuying journey, it generally is a good idea to collaborate with a real estate agent. In fact, a real estate agent will do everything possible to help you identify and resolve homebuying problems before they escalate.

A real estate agent is a housing market expert and is happy to assist you as you proceed along the homebuying journey. If you are interested in houses in specific cities and towns, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about residences that become available in these areas. Or, if you want to submit an offer to purchase a house, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal. Best of all, if you have homebuying concerns, a real estate agent will address them right away.

Ultimately, buying a house can be easy. Use the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline the homebuying cycle.


When it comes to purchasing a home, there is no need to settle for an "average" homebuying experience. Instead, there are many things that you can do to become an expert homebuyer, i.e. someone who can discover a first-rate house at a budget-friendly price.

Now, let's take a look at three ways that a "typical" homebuyer can become an extraordinary one:

1. Evaluate the Housing Market Closely

The housing market can be complicated, particularly for those who are searching for a house for the first time. Fortunately, an informed homebuyer will be able to identify real estate market trends and plan accordingly.

For example, if there is an abundance of houses available and a shortage of homebuyers, you likely are operating in a buyer's market. In this market, you should have no trouble locating a top-notch house at a price that corresponds to your budget.

On the other hand, a real estate market that features a limited number of outstanding houses commonly favors property sellers. Therefore, you'll need to proceed cautiously if you want to acquire a high-end house at an affordable price.

Of course, you should always check out a wide range of houses in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This will enable you to explore many houses and improve your chances of finding a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Although you'd like to buy a home in the near future, you still need to figure out how you'll pay for it. Lucky for you, many credit unions and banks are available that can make it easy for you to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Lenders are happy to meet with you at your convenience. These financial institutions can outline a variety of mortgage options and help you make an informed mortgage decision.

With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with clear-cut financial expectations. This may help you avoid the temptation to overspend on a home. Plus, you'll be better equipped than other property buyers to narrow your home search, thereby accelerating the process of acquiring your ideal house.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a housing market professional. As such, he or she can help you simplify the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.

For homebuyers, hiring a real estate agent is essential. This housing market professional can keep you up to date about new properties as they become available, set up home showings, submit home offers on your behalf and much more.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is available to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries at any time. He or she will even provide homebuying recommendations to ensure you can navigate the property buying cycle quickly and effortlessly.

Ready to become an expert homebuyer? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline the process of acquiring a terrific home that you can enjoy for years to come.


For those who want to simplify the homebuying process, crafting a budget is ideal. Because if you tailor your house search to your finances, you can eliminate the risk of spending beyond your means to acquire your dream residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you budget for the homebuying journey.

1. Analyze Your Financial Situation

Request a copy of your credit report – you'll be glad you did. You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Once you have your credit report, you can assess your credit score and take steps to improve it as needed.

Getting your credit report can help you identify outstanding debt and other financial issues that may make it tough to acquire a house. If you can correct these issues today, you can eliminate the risk that they could impact your ability to buy your dream residence in the near future.

2. Consider Your Homebuying Expenses

The price of a home is one of many financial considerations that a buyer will need to evaluate during the property buying journey. Fortunately, if you map out your homebuying expenses, you can ensure that you'll have the finances available to cover these costs as you pursue your dream home.

For example, a property inspection may be used to assess a house's condition before you finalize a home purchase. This inspection will require you to hire a professional home inspector, so you will need to make sure you have the money available to cover the cost of this homebuying expense.

You should consider home closing costs as well. And if you start saving for home closing fees and other homebuying expenses, you won't have to worry about scrambling to get the money to cover these costs as you navigate the property buying journey.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage is a must, regardless of your homebuying goals. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can analyze your home financing options and select a mortgage that suits you perfectly.

Banks and credit unions are happy to teach you about different types of mortgages and how each type of mortgage works. Plus, if you have any mortgage questions, banks and credit unions are ready to respond to your queries right away.

As you prepare to pursue your dream house, you also may want to hire a real estate agent. In addition to helping you streamline your search for your ideal residence, a real estate agent can put you in touch with the top mortgage professionals in your area, help you plan ahead for various homebuying expenses and much more.

If you want to conduct a successful home search, it may be a good idea to prepare a homebuying budget. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can craft a homebuying budget so you can accelerate the process of acquiring your dream house.


Whether you're looking for your first house, a vacation home, or a retirement condo, there's always an element of excitement in finding a new place you can call your own!

Although buying and selling real estate can be stressful, especially if you've never done it before, being prepared and knowing what to expect can help keep things on an even keel.

Similar to planning a vacation or a cross-country trip, you'll want to avoid missed connections, frustrating delays, and wasted time. When it comes to buying a home, a little research, planning, and expert advice can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth journey. Here are a few specifics:

Check your credit score: Your credit rating has a major impact on your ability to successfully apply for a mortgage and be offered a relatively low interest rate. Knowing your credit rating can help you understand your options, avoid unexpected surprises, and take action to correct errors in your credit report or improve your credit profile.

Prepare a wish list: One of the keys to getting what you want in a new home is to clarify and prioritize the features that matter the most to you. Your checklist can include everything from lot size and architectural style to the reputation of the school district and proximity to stores. Some house hunters also place a high value on features like a fireplace, screened-in porch, and an open floor plan.

Find a good real estate agent: A buyers' agent can provide you with an immense amount of help in finding properties for sale that meet your specifications. They can also provide assistance, advice, and guidance on the many steps involved in going from loan applicant to new home owner. An experienced agent can also negotiate the best possible deal, in terms of price, seller concessions, and other advantages.

Meet with mortgage lenders: A crucial step in preparing to become a homeowner is understanding the mortgage application process, knowing how much banks would be willing to lend you, and determining an affordable price range. Meeting with lenders is also the first step to comparing interest rates and choosing a financial institution that would best suit your needs. Here's a helpful tip from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "Getting a preapproval letter helps you show sellers that you are a serious buyer – but it doesn’t commit you to a lender."

When it comes to searching for and buying a house, probably the best advice anyone could give you is "stay the course!" Let's face it: It's easy to give up, get discouraged, or settle for a home that's less than what you really want. However, when you adopt a "stay the course" mindset, you'll do a better job of staying motivated, focused, and well organized until you find just the right home for you, your family, and your future!




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