Even in an environment of rising house prices, low-to-moderate income earners may still be able to become homeowners, even with a modest down payment or a limited credit history. Opportunities may exist for homebuyers with moderate incomes through programs from cities, nonprofit organizations, and financial institutions.
These examples, based on the experiences of typical homebuyers with low-to-moderate incomes, outline different paths to homeownership without large down payments or perfect credit scores.
Sarah: Just starting out
Sarah just landed her first professional job. She’s ready to become a homeowner because she has a stable career, plans to live in the home for the foreseeable future, and has enough money for a small down payment on a home.
Low down payment options from Wells Fargo might help Sarah achieve her goal. Some features include:
- Low 3% down payment on a conventional, fixed-rate mortgage
- May be layered with grants and credits to assist eligible buyers with down payment and closing costs
- Flexibility for buyers with a limited credit history or a less-than-perfect credit score.
Keep in mind that mortgage insurance will be required, which increases the cost of the loan and will increase your monthly payment. We'll explain the options available, so you can choose what works for you.
Talk with a home mortgage consultant about loan amount, loan type, property type, income, first-time homebuyer, and homebuyer education to determine eligibility.
Beth: Modest homeownership dreams
Beth lives near a small town in the country with her husband and little boy. Their income is steady but modest, allowing them to afford monthly housing payments but not save much. Beth is renting a home now and has always wanted to become a homeowner, but doesn’t know her options.
Beth’s family, like other low-to-moderate income buyers in rural areas, may be eligible for financing through the Guaranteed Rural Housing Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. These loans feature:
- Financing of up to 100% with no required down payment
- Long-term fixed-rate terms, helping to keep principal and interest payments predictable over the life of the loan
- The ability to finance closing costs, the guarantee fee, legal fees, and other prepaid fees
Borrowers will pay a one-time guarantee fee and an annual fee to the USDA's Rural Development program. The monthly mortgage payment will include the annual fee, and may include the guarantee fee. These fees will increase the cost of the loan and monthly payments.
Rick: Finding a home for his family
Rick is an active-duty service member who recently has returned from a long tour overseas. He and his wife dream of raising their two young children in a home of their own.
Rick and his wife may be eligible to purchase their first home with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan. Benefits and considerations of doing so include:
- Because VA loans offer low- and no-down-payment options, Rick and his wife can reserve part of their savings for home repairs and unexpected expenses.
- Rick may be able to receive a grant from the government to use toward closing costs.
- Because VA loans don’t require monthly mortgage insurance, Rick and his wife will instead pay a one-time VA funding fee (a percentage of the loan amount based on type of loan, military category, first-time and prior use of entitlement, and down payment amount).
Becoming a successful homeowner
To help you become a successful homeowner, think carefully about the decision to buy, making sure that homeownership suits your personal and financial situation. Buying a home involves much more than securing a loan and making monthly payments.
If you’re ready to purchase a home but the scenarios discussed above don’t mirror your own, keep in mind that you may still be eligible for purchase with assistance from your city, county, or state. Wells Fargo also has several programs to help make homeownership a possibility for many low-to-moderate income homebuyers.
Empower yourself with financial knowledge
We’re committed to helping you as you work toward financial success. Here you’ll find a wide range of helpful information, interactive tools, practical strategies, and more — all designed to increase your financial literacy and help you reach your financial goals.
My Financial Guide >
Products to Consider:
- Mortgage Learning Center
- Low down payment options
- Home Lending
Credit is subject to approval. Property location and income restrictions may apply, and homebuyer education may be required.
Source: FHA and VA Mortgage Programs – Wells Fargo
Source: "Home Loans." Loan Fees -. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Source: Weston, Liz. "9 Fast Fixes for Your Credit Scores." MSN Money.
Equal Housing Lender