The Truth in First Time Home Buying


Scared Stiff to make your first home purchase?

It’s probably easier than you’d think.

The Takeaways:

  • A 20% down payment on a home is not a hard-set rule
  • Loan programs such as FHA and Fannie Mae offer minimum down payments as low as 3%
  • With interest on a mortgage being tax deductible, it’s surprising how much you can save in taxes
  • Rent rates are continuing to rise which can make owning a home less costly than renting
  • There is equity in homeownership as home values rise

People tend to perceive first-time home buying as a daunting experience that requires ample handholding and reassurance, but in reality it is one life’s most rewarding experiences. There’s also a lot of misconceptions held on the feasibility of owning a home, particularly finance-related, that prevent people from ever pursuing a purchase on a home. The truth of the matter is that there are countless affordability programs to help you afford your first home as well as financial benefits found in the equity in home buying.

A 20% down payment when purchasing a home isn’t a rule that is set in stone, which is good news for those who are under the impression that they cannot buy their own property due to a lack of savings. FHA, Fannie Mae, and competitive bank portfolio markets are just some of the affordability programs out there that are designed to help first-time homebuyers take the plunge in owning real estate. For example, an FHA loan requires only a minimum down payment of 3.5% with a credit score of 580 and 10% down with a 500-579 credit score, and Fannie Mae mortgages offer loan-to-value (LTV) ratios from 95-97%. Most people are reluctant to take advantage of these programs because they don’t want to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) or are afraid that it will heavily impact their finances, but it typically only costs 0.5-1.0% of the entire loan amount per year AND, for many homebuyers, PMI is tax deductible.

Renting a house or condominium can easily be more costly than purchasing your own, especially in markets where rents are quickly on the rise. Let’s assume that you are currently paying $1,600 per month in rent. At present, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are approximately 4%. If you were to make a 3% down payment on a $300,000 home, then your monthly mortgage payment would be $1,389. That’s an annual savings of over $2,500 that can be allocated to those additional costs you feared, like property tax and private mortgage insurance. Also the interest paid on a mortgage is tax deductible, and, based off the example above, you can expect to save $52,285 in taxes over the life of the loan. More importantly, when you purchase a home as opposed to renting, you are making an investment that will generate a return over time and increase BOTH your current and future equity. Money spent on your home loan accrues toward the home’s value, and it builds even more equity when a home’s value rises.

It’s important to remember that buying your first home begins with mortgage prequalification, not home searching. There are many affordability programs offered by lenders that are directed towards first time homebuyers and countless financial benefits associated with purchasing a home. Now is an especially opportunistic moment to take advantage of low interest rates and the vast inventory of homes that are currently on the market. Rest assured that there is no need to be afraid in taking the next big step and acquiring your own home; in fact, it’s a fulfilling investment that will return to you an increase in equity and years of memories.


Written by Danial Ghanouni, BRIGHTSTAR Team at KW Atlanta Midtown.

Information assumed to be accurate but should be independently verified.


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