What is the definition of a Down Payment?

In real estate, a down payment is a portion of the lump sum on a loan that must be paid before tying up a loan deal. All conventional loans have a required and a minimum down payment.

A down payment is paid just right after the loan terms have been assessed, analyzed, and accepted by both parties in the transaction. Depending on the scenario under consideration, this commitment may be made on a home loan or a personal loan.

The English dictionary defines a down payment as an initial installment that is made when something is bought on credit.

Down Payment definition in Real Estate

In real estate, lenders require down payments on the loans that they approve for you during your home purchase. Once you’ve passed any lender requirements and have decided to accept an offer, you should be able to afford a percentage of the upfront cost on that loan. The required down payment may start at 5% minimum of the total loan in real estate, in fact, in certain exceptional cases, banks may provide loans with NO DOWN PAYMENT required. However, this is more common with offers provided to trusted borrowers with a good track record and very high credit scores (which can be difficult to get).

Some lenders may also offer loans with no down payment required in exchange for a higher APR, hence, it is vital you understand how to strike the right balance between both terms. This is one area where our financial advisors can help you navigate these waters, as their expertise has helped countless other people secure beneficial loans and become homeowners. Also, individuals who cannot make up to 20% down would have to pay a Private Mortgage Insurance.

However, even if you do not have up to 5% minimum to pay on the property, all hope is not lost. You see, with as low as 3.5% down payment, our loan officers can help you get your foot in the door and qualify for a home loan. Also, if you have more than 3.5% of the total amount required for the deposit and want to put it in some sort of property but can only settle for a “fixer-upper” currently, you can simply use the remaining money on immediate renovations! Doing this can help you increase your home equity up to the point where you can refinance it a year later and own over 3.5% of the home. This simply means you’d get rid of PMI and have the home just the way you love it. It is also worthwhile to note that this approach only works with floating interest rates, not with fixed interest rates. This is due to the fact the market experiences dips from time to time, making it best to refinance your home during a market dip. This can also come in handy in helping you get a good discount on APR.

This is known to different people with different names, some call it flipping in cases where you sell the home, while others refer to it as BRRRR (Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat).

PMI exists to protect lenders from borrowers who may default on their loans. It relies mainly on the borrower’s credit history and score. Insurance companies differ and the policies and premiums they offer also vary depending on a number of different factors regarding you, your lender, and the property being insured by the insurance company.

When dealing with home loans, you’ll want to try to talk a seller down on the sale price not just for a lower sale price, but also because the minimum down payment would decrease if you can negotiate properly. This means that if you meet the 20% minimum, you will avoid PMI. For potential homebuyers who can only afford to part with the 5% minimum required for a down payment, they can still secure a conventional loan. But if you cannot meet any of these conditions, you can still qualify for a loan with a minimum of just 3.5% down with our team.

While loans differ in their functions and duration, it is almost certain that a mortgage insurer will work in the interest of the lending party. But mortgage insurers also need a part of the money on the loan either during the closing process (as part of the closing cost) or as a part of your monthly mortgage deposit towards that home. Sometimes, some insurers will require both deposits.

How Down Payments Work

Since down payments have a minimum requirement of 20% in real estate for standard Federal Housing Administration(FHA) loans, oftentimes many lenders will offer loans with comparable interest rates at this minimum percentage. When a sizeable amount is made as a deposit on an FHA loan, it can open up a gateway for an even lower interest rate for the loan. This way, it becomes more convenient to scale your monthly payments depending on how much you can part with as a first installment while closing. 

Considerations like these are what is known as a loan-to-value ratio, meaning when you compare one loan to another, the stipulations around your interest rates and the rate at which you build home equity compared to the loan amount are important factors a borrower should pay attention to. It’s worth noting that once you build home equity, you’ll eventually become eligible to take out a home equity loan. These are typically offered at 80%-85% of your total equity accruement, but lenders require the home as collateral in case you default.

The differences in the types of properties you can find loans for mean that lender requirements vary for approval for property loans, with the requirements also varying for these loans. In spite of this, down payments work fundamentally the same way for property loans of different types, but for things like car loans, not only is the expense for a car lower than that of real estate, but you can also trade in another car to either act as a cash-value trade towards a down payment, or to lower the size of the loan. Factors like credit score and debt-to-income ratio can also affect the interest rates on most property loans.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does down payment mean?

Down payment means a proportion of the total outlay on a loan that an individual is obligated to pay upfront once both the borrower and lender agree on the terms. The terms for down payments vary from lender to lender, as well as what the loan is for, but the central purpose of a down payment is the same in all instances even with varying terms and considerations. Most home purchases will involve a down payment.

Since down payments greatly affect the residential and investment-related financial future of any buyer, it is a vital part of any home buying process that a buyer should be wary of while exploring a home loan. Let’s take a moment to imagine a scenario involving car loans, in this case, a down payment is still a key part of the transaction, as it affects the loan’s interest rate but is not decisive in the larger scheme of things because the amount in question is less than a real estate loan.

What is a down payment with an example?

As stated above, it is a percentage of most property loans that are required as an upfront cost to be paid at closing, or before a borrower is deemed the owner of the property. The majority of down payments start at a 20% minimum of the total loan in real estate, so using 20% as an example for a loan of $200,000, your minimum down payment would be $40,000. 

What is another word for down payment?

Down payments are also known as deposits, money down, or are sometimes referred to as closing costs.

When are down payments used?

From personal loans to more standard mortgages, down payments are used during the closing process on most property loans that involve large sums of money. However, there are lenders that offer zero down loans for people who can afford monthly payments but may not have funds available for a large deposit, may not have an eligible credit history, or have a debt-to-income ratio that makes them temporarily ineligible for common home loans. These types of loans are also available at times for people who may need some sort of payment assistance not available with FHA loans. In addition to most home loans requiring a deposit during the closing process, there are other closing costs that need to be paid as well that range from 3%-5% of the loan total, but the down payment is separate from these costs.

Why do you need a down payment?

Lenders require down payments to get an immediate return on their investment, as well as to guarantee some amount of followthrough from a borrower on a new loan. Lenders are taking a risk when they give out loans and down payments help alleviate some of that risk both in action and in a good-faith gesture. They may also help scale the interest rate, which could be favorable to borrowers. It is common to see newbies mistake earnest money with down payment. These terms mean different things in real estate.

We already know down payment is a certain percentage a borrower has to pay before accessing a loan or property, earnest money is the money used to secure a property and “lock” the purchase price. It is common with home purchases when a seller has agreed to decrease the initial asking price and the buyer wants to quickly move on the property before other buyers start circling around the property.

How do you get a down payment?

To get a down payment, you’ll need to save some money to build one that can be channeled towards property loans. Also, you cannot pay up a down payment with a credit card, s credit cards and loans are both forms of credit.

How much does a down payment affect monthly payment?

This varies by lender, but the larger the down payment is, the lower your interest rates will be on the loan, meaning a lower interest rate makes your monthly payments lower as well as reduces the overall amount of money you’ll be spending on the loan with the interest rate included. However, there are exceptional cases where there are amazing offers in the market. Carrying out some deep market research can help you dig out some of these deals, but why not let our experienced loan officers help you fish these deals out? This way, you do not end up chasing the wrong leads, while you can also enjoy a balanced loan offer that benefits you greatly. Down payments affect the monthly payment for Federal Housing Administration loans, but don’t affect the monthly payment quite as much as they do for loans offered during a car purchase.

Is a down payment a deposit?

Down payment and deposit can be used interchangeably, but not all deposits are down payments. Down payments are the initial deposits required on a property loan and can affect many things regarding the terms on a loan, but types differ from a personal loan to zero down loan (that requires no down payment).

What happens when you make a down payment?


You’ve just taken the first big step towards paying off your loan!

Now that you have paid off a part of the loan, you can kick back and relax for a moment, as you have just successfully wrapped up the process of obtaining a property that has been paid for temporarily by a lender. With real estate loans, the time you make your down payment is when you’ll also begin building home equity. Equity is not a factor on an auto loan or loans on property that is expected to deteriorate with use. Down payments have a measurable effect on your mortgage rate, so in addition to the above, you’ll also know what your monthly payment will be once you’ve made your deposit.

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