Zillow Home Loans announced its 1% Down Payment program to allow eligible home buyers to pay as little as 1% down on their next home purchase. This program is initially being offered on properties located in Arizona, with plans to expand to additional markets.

With the 1% Down Payment program, borrowers who qualify can now save just 1% to cover their portion of the down payment and Zillow Home Loans will contribute an additional 2% at closing. The 1% Down Payment program can reduce the time eligible home buyers need to save and open homeownership to those who are otherwise ready to take on a mortgage, according to a news release.

Affordability Crisis

Most markets are in the midst of an affordability crisis, and saving for a down payment remains one of the biggest barriers for many potential home buyers. This is especially true for first-time buyers, who are often paying high rents. Typical asking rent nationwide is $2,062, or 3.6% higher than one year ago and up 31% since the start of the pandemic. (The typical rent in the U.S. in February 2020 was $1,597.)  The combination of record-breaking home price appreciation and rising interest rates means a majority of first-time buyers (64%) are putting down less than 20%, and one-quarter of first-time buyers are putting down 5% or less.

Zillow Home Loans’ 1% Down Payment program lowers the down payment barrier and increases access to the housing market for eligible borrowers. An analysis by Zillow Home Loans shows that by reducing the down payment burden to 1% of the purchase price, a home buyer looking to purchase a $275,000 home in Phoenix, Arizona, who makes 80% of their area’s median income and saves 5% of their income would need only 11 months to save for the down payment. By comparison, the same buyer who needed to save 3% of the purchase price would require two and a half years (31 months) to save that amount.

“For those who can afford higher rent payments but have been held back by the upfront costs associated with homeownership, down payment assistance can help to lower the barrier to entry and make the dream of owning a home a reality,” said Zillow Home Loans’ senior macroeconomist Orphe Divounguy. “The rapid rise in rents and home values means many renters who are already paying high monthly housing costs may not have enough saved up for a large down payment, and these types of programs are welcome innovations in lowering the potential barriers to homeownership for those who qualify.”

Here’s How

Home buyers looking to purchase in the next year should take steps to research and prepare for getting a mortgage as they start on their home-financing journey. Among those steps:

  1. Understand your credit profile: Credit scores are key to getting approved for a mortgage, but for many home buyers, understanding credit is complex.
  2. Improve your credit score: Once buyers familiarize themselves with what’s in their credit report, they can take steps to pay down existing debts, pay bills on time, review their credit report, and dispute possible errors.
  3. Avoid closing accounts: Don’t close an account to remove it from your report. Those accounts aren’t automatically removed and will continue to show up on your report.
  4. Hold off on financing large new purchases: Wait to make purchases that need to be financed, such as a car, until after you close on a home. This type of purchase will impact your debt-to-income ratio, which will negatively affect the amount of home loan you qualify for.
  5. Determine what affordability looks like: Once buyers have a good understanding of their credit report and their credit score is at least 620 (generally the lowest score accepted by mortgage lenders) it’s time to understand how much home they can afford. Use Zillow’s mortgage affordability calculator to customize payment details.

Who Is Eligible

Zillow Home Loans’ 1% Down Payment program is currently available to eligible borrowers in Arizona, with plans to expand. Through the 1% Down Payment program, Zillow Home Loans will pay 2% of the down payment for eligible borrowers. The 2% is paid through closing and not as a payment to the borrower. Interested applicants should call 1-833-372-1449 to speak with a Zillow Home Loans representative to learn more about the program and determine if it’s the right fit for their circumstances.

Source: Zillow Home Loans