How Much Time Do You Need To Save for a Down Payment on a House?

By April 23, 2021 Real Estate
down payment savings

One of the biggest hurdles homebuyers face is saving for a down payment. As you’re budgeting and planning for your home purchase, you’ll want to understand how much you’ll need to put down and how long it will take you to get there. The process may actually move faster than you think.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Apartment List, we can estimate how long it might take someone earning the median income and paying the median rent to save up for a down payment on a median-priced home. Since saving for a down payment can be a great time to practice budgeting for housing costs, this estimate also uses the concept that a household should not pay more than 28% of their total income on monthly housing expenses.

According to the data, the national average for the time it would take to save for a 10% down payment is right around two and a half years (2.53). Residents of Pennsylvania, however, can actually expect to be ahead of the curve when it comes to amassing those savings, doing so in just over two years (2.04).

The map below illustrates this time (in years) for each state:

down payment

What if you only need to save 3%?

What if you’re able to take advantage of one of the 3% down payment programs available? It’s a common misconception that you need a 20% down payment to buy a home, but there are actually more affordable options, and down payment assistance programs available, especially for first-time buyers.

The reality is, saving for a 3% down payment may not take several years. In fact, it could take less than a year in most states, as shown in the map below

down payment

Your Tax Refund or Stimulus Savings Can Help You Make Your Down Payment

Wherever you are in the process of saving for a down payment, you may be closer to your dream home than you think.

In fact, if you just got your yearly tax refund, you may be even better off than you think; one of the best ways to jumpstart your savings is by starting with the help of that handy little bank deposit from the Uncle Sam

Using data from the IRS, it’s estimated that Americans can expect an average refund of $2,925 when filing their taxes this year. The map below shows the average anticipated tax refund by state:

down payment

Thanks to programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, many first-time buyers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down. In addition, Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to put 0% down. You may have heard the common myth that you need to put 20% down when you buy a home, but thankfully for most homebuyers, a 20% down payment isn’t actually required. It’s important to work with your real estate professional and your lender to understand all of your options.

How can your tax refund help?

If you’re a first-time buyer, your tax refund may cover more of a down payment than you realize.

If you take into account the median home sale price by state, the map below shows the percentage of a 3% down payment that’s covered by the average anticipated tax refund:

down payment

Not enough money from your tax return? 

A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, of the households that received a stimulus check last year, “One third report that they primarily saved the stimulus money.” If you had the opportunity to save your Economic Impact Payments, you may consider putting that money toward your down payment or closing costs as well. Your trusted real estate professional can also advise you on the down payment assistance programs available in your area.

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. This year, your tax refund and your stimulus savings could add up big when it comes to reaching your homeownership goals. Let’s connect so that you can find out exactly how achievable homeownership is for you. (Spoilers: It’s probably much closer than you think!)

Mary Byrnes

Author Mary Byrnes

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