Report: More Home Buyers Are Making Down Payments Below 5%

June 26, 2018
Last updated:
March 9, 2022
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How much of a down payment do you need to get a mortgage in Washington? What are average buyers putting down towards the purchase of a new home? Let’s discuss this in more detail in this article.

We’ve written in the past about the expansion of low-down-payment mortgage programs for borrowers in Washington and Oregon. In recent years, policy changes made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have enabled more home buyers to purchase a home with a down payment below 5% of the purchase price.

Now, a recent industry report shows that a growing number of home buyers across the country are benefiting from this trend.

Down Payments Below 5% on the Rise

In a recent blog post, the property data company CoreLogic published an in-depth analysis that showed an increase in the percentage of borrowers making down payments less than 5%.

A few short years ago, the overall market share of such loans wasn’t very high. But it has risen over the past few years. This means that more and more home buyers are purchasing houses with down payments of less than 5%.

Loan-to-Value Ratios Explained

A loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is a financial term used by lenders to show the ratio between the amount being borrowed and the home’s market value. A larger down payment results in a lower LTV ratio, and vice versa.

To calculate your LTV, simply divide your mortgage balance by the value of your home. For example, if your home is valued at $500,000 and you still have an outstanding balance of $400,000, your LTV would be 80% ($400,000 ÷ $500,000).

Conventional Loans Competing With FHA?

This trend is largely the result of changes made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the last few years. These are the two “government-sponsored enterprises,” or GSEs, that buy and sell home loans via the secondary mortgage market. The GSEs have certain requirements for the loans they can buy, and those requirements affect home buyers who are using a conventional mortgage to buy a house.

In recent years, Fannie and Freddie began to accept mortgages loans with down payments as low as 3%. This expansion would seem to put them in direct competition with the FHA loan program, which allows borrowers to put as little as 3.5% down when buying a house.

FHA’s market share has shrunk a bit in recent years. And this could be partly due to the easing of down-payment requirements on the conventional side.

Home loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration account for around 15% of overall market share. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the FHA’s share of total loan applications was down to 9.3% as of March 2022.

Here’s the big takeaway for home buyers in Washington and Oregon:

There are more options available today for borrowers seeking a down payment below 5%. The FHA loan program has long offered a path to homeownership with a minimal upfront investment. But in recent years, there has also been a rise in conventional mortgage loans with down payments less than 5%.

Have Questions About Home Loans?

Sammamish Mortgage has been serving borrowers across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado since 1992. We offer several mortgage programs suitable for buyers and homeowners in various situations. Please contact us if you have questions about down payment requirements, loan programs, or any other mortgage-related topic.

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