To qualify for a mortgage, you will need more than a good credit rating and low level of existing debt. You will also need funds for a down payment.
The amount you need to put on a home will vary depending on your lender’s requirements and the type of mortgage you get. FHA loans, for example, allow you to buy a home with just 3.5% down, whereas a conventional mortgage lender may charge 20%.
You might qualify for a loan (like a VA loan) that does not require a down payment, but you are more likely to have to save some money at the fence. And so that money will have to come from somewhere. But here are three sources you really shouldn’t be tapping into for down payment.
Start your journey to financial success with a bang
Get free access to the selected products we use to help us meet our financial goals. These fully vetted choices could be the solution to helping you increase your credit score, invest more profitably, build an emergency fund, and more.
By submitting your email address, you consent to our sending you money advice as well as products and services that may be of interest to you. You can unsubscribe anytime. Please read our Confidentiality declaration and terms and conditions.
1. Your emergency fund
We’re all supposed to put enough money into an emergency fund to cover three to six months of bills. That way, if you lose your job or face an unexpected expense, you won’t need to go into debt. That’s why you shouldn’t use your emergency fund to fund your down payment.
A down payment on a house is not an emergency. In fact, it is the opposite. Not only is this a planned expense, as opposed to an unexpected expense, it is technically not a necessity. You do not to have buy a house if you can’t afford it. While if your car breaks down and you need to put money on a new one to get to work, it’s a non-negotiable expense that needs to be dealt with immediately.
2. Your IRA
Normally, if you have money in an IRA, you can’t access it until you are 59½ without being hit with an early withdrawal penalty. There is an exception, however, for home purchases. First-time homebuyers are allowed to withdraw up to $ 10,000 from an IRA to buy a home without being penalized. But just because you’re licensed doesn’t mean you should.
The money in your IRA is supposed to be used as a source of income in retirement. If you take money out now to buy a house, you will have less money on hand as a senior when you probably really need it. Additionally, IRAs are typically invested in stocks and / or bonds, so their account balances increase. If you withdraw now to buy a house, that money will no longer work for you and will turn into a larger amount.
3. Your brokerage account
Investing is a great way to grow wealth. You are allowed to sell investments for cash in a traditional brokerage account at any time without penalty. But you may want to avoid liquidating your brokerage account for a down payment for several reasons.
If you cash in your investments when they’re going down (i.e. they’re worth less than what you paid for them), you’ll end up losing money. And if you cash in your investments when they are going up, you will earn money, but there will also be tax implications. Namely, the IRS will want a portion of your earnings, so the money you get by selling your investments won’t be yours. Finally, as is the case with an IRA, if you sell investments now to buy a house, you will lose the chance to grow them into a bigger sum.
It’s not easy to find a down payment for a house, but before you loot any of the above accounts, think about the consequences. A better bet is to leave these accounts alone and consider other options. Investigate low down payment or no down payment mortgages. Or open a separate savings account and put money in it until you have enough. You may need to delay homeownership a bit until you are able to raise enough money. But you also don’t risk ruining your finances in any other way.