Sometimes, the first step toward a goal is the hardest. Coming up with thousands of dollars to use as a down payment on a dream home is no exception. However, if you understand the options available to you, finding a down payment strategy to make your dream of homeownership a reality could be simpler than you think.

Whether it’s a down payment assistance program, a disciplined savings plan or generous help from a family member, there are several ways to close the gap between wishful thinking and thankful owner. 

Down Payment Assistance

Having a bank account with more than 20 percent of the price of a home in it is not the only path to homeownership. FHA loans, for example, may require a down payment as low as 3.5 percent for qualified buyers. Understanding the down payment requirements you will be facing begins with a trusted lender who can explain your options.

However, you should also allocate some time to researching applicable down payment assistance programs. Depending on your income, first-time buyer status, military service, profession, or location, you could be eligible for a forgivable loan or grant that covers all or part of your down payment. Often targeted to low-income buyers, or designed to promote the revitalization of a particular neighborhood, these programs can be an incredible opportunity to fast-track your home purchase. Before you move forward with or dismiss a new home, do a quick internet search for down payment assistance programs available in your jurisdiction.

Saving Effectively

Of course, the old-fashioned way to homeownership is through a solid savings plan. If it’s proving more difficult than you imagined, though, don’t give up. Start by setting a goal, even if it’s just a fraction of what you will eventually need to have. Then, make sure you have a savings account, separate from your usual accounts, so you’ll be less likely to access the funds prematurely once they’re deposited. 

With the goal and the destination set, you can begin finding ways to make progress. Consider an auto-debit from your paycheck, redirect unnecessary subscriptions like streaming services or rarely-used gym memberships, and avoid eating out or impulse buys that can quickly add up. A moratorium on vacations, cutting your rent by downgrading to a smaller apartment, or getting a temporary, part-time job can also be effective ways to increase your savings quickly.  

Gift Rules

Some prospective buyers are fortunate enough to have a family member or friend willing to help fund their purchase. But, it’s essential to understand the rules that govern their generosity. 

If the money for your down payment will be coming from someone else, your lender will want documentation of who it came from and an assurance that it is a gift, not a loan. Your benefactor will likely be asked to submit a gift letter that explains their relationship and the amount they are giving you. They must also state that they do not expect to be repaid in the future. Some loan programs may also limit how much of your down payment can be gifted, so be sure to discuss this with your lender. 

If a down payment is the last thing standing between you and homeownership, start a conversation with Open Mortgage today. Our Loan Origination Specialists can review your options and make sure you don’t take the first step alone. Find out more at

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