Yes, You Can Buy a Home With No Down Payment

One of the major obstacles that keeps many people from buying a home is the inability to come up with a large enough down payment. In order to get the best interest rate, homeowners are typically asked to put down 20% of the home’s value. But when you’re talking about a purchase price that’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, that 20% isn’t exactly pocket change. If you’re struggling to save enough to make a down payment on a home, don’t lose hope. There are actually some options out there that don’t require any down payment at all.

USDA Loans

Don’t skip over this one because of the name! We know it might sound like only farm or ranch land would qualify, but that’s not the case. In fact, 97% of land in the U.S. is in areas that are eligible for USDA loans. The United States Department of Agriculture has its own housing program to help with rural development. It allows families with low to moderate incomes to buy a primary residence outside of major cities, in rural or suburban areas. For exact location and property requirements, check the USDA Loan Program website.

VA Loans

U.S. Military Veterans may qualify for a VA home loan. VA loans offer 100% financing and do not require mortgage insurance. Because of this there is a one-time funding fee, which can be as low as 1.25% or as high as 3.3% of the loan amount. That amount can be financed into the loan, so no money is required up front. Credit requirements for VA loans differ by lender, though most will require a minimum 620 credit score. Some smaller lenders may take lower scores. All will require a VA Certificate of Eligibility, which can be obtained through the Department of Veteran Affairs website.

Navy Federal Credit Union

If you qualify for membership with Navy Federal Credit Union, you may be eligible for 100% financing and 0% down on your mortgage loan. Navy Fed’s HomeBuyers Choice Mortgage offers conforming and jumbo loans with a low fixed rate, no money down, no private mortgage insurance (PMI), and refinancing options. They also allow up to 6% in seller contributions. Like a VA loan, this program charges a one-time funding fee of 1.75%, which can be waived for an .375% increase in the interest rate.

Down Payment Assistance

If you’re a first-time homebuyer and don’t qualify for any of the mortgages that offer zero percent down, you might want to look into down payment assistance. Some mortgages, such as FHA loans, will allow 100% of the down payment to be gifted. So if you have a parent or someone else who wants to help out, they can gift the money to you or make a personal loan to make up the down payment. There are also government programs and grants that help first-time homebuyers make their down payments. They can be found on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website.

Low Down Payment Option: FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) does not offer zero-down loans, but they do offer loans with a very low down payment. Since eligibility requirements aren’t as stringent as conventional loans, FHA loans are very popular among first-time buyers. Even buyers with a credit score as low as 580 can qualify for a loan with a 3.5% down payment. If your credit score is lower than 580, you may still qualify with a 10% down payment. As stated in the previous option, FHA loans allow the down payment to be paid using gift funds. Some buyers have even been known to set up a crowdfunding account for friends and family to contribute toward as gifts for a wedding or birth, etc.

Friday Five // October 12th, 2018

Searching for something fun to do this weekend? Look no further, because the Friday Five is here! It’s our weekly roundup of fun events happening around the Charleston area throughout the weekend. Catch an outdoor family movie, enjoy two cultural festivals, celebrate Oktoberfest, and more. Whatever you choose to do, as always, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a safe and happy weekend!

Bring the whole family to Corrine Jones Park in downtown Charleston on Friday evening for family movie night, featuring Disney + Pixar’s Coco. Beginning at 6pm, the Charleston Parks Conservancy and Lambda Theta Phi present an evening full of Latin-themed activities, a Salsa lesson, free popcorn, and games. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from El Pincho Taco Miracle’s Tasty Express. The film will begin around 7:15pm. The event is free for all to attend, but prior registration is appreciated.

Join the staff and agents from Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company this weekend at the Victory Cup. This event, taking place on Friday and Saturday, has it all: polo, hot air balloons, fashion, food, and drinks. On Friday, enjoy hot air balloon glow and tethered rides, food vendors, bars, and live music from ’80s cover band The Spazmatics. Saturday will feature a polo match, more hot air balloon rides, and a farm-to-table dinner with the polo players. This event is family-friendly and pet-friendly. Get your passes in advance to ensure admission.

Star Wars-loving families will want to be at the Main Library downtown Saturday from 11am until 2pm for Star Wars Reads Day. Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroopers will invade the library for an afternoon of fun for the whole family. Bring your camera for photo opps, participate in a costume contest, watch Solo: A Star Wars Story, hear the CSO perform some Star Wars tunes, create a craft, test your trivia knowledge, hear a story, and enjoy Star Wars treats. Members of the Carolina Garrison chapter of the 501st Legion will be dressed in lifelike Star Wars gear for the event.

Celebrate the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and rhythms of Latin America on Sunday at the 27th annual Latin American Festival. The event takes place at Wannamaker County Park from 12pm until 6pm. Delight in live Salsa and Merengue music, authentic food and crafts, and plenty of family-friendly activities, including a salsa dance contest. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students (with a valid student ID). Kids 12 and under and Gold Pass members enjoy free admission. Outside food, alcohol, coolers, and pets are prohibited at this event.

Head to Gene’s Haufbrau on Sunday from 12-7pm for their 18th Annual Oktoberfest celebration. Enjoy seasonal beers, traditional German fare, great music, and loads of fun. Hans Schmidt German Band will go on at noon followed by Bender Funk at 3pm. Admission is $5 at the door and benefits Pet Helpers.

Pros and Cons of Living in a Bedroom Community

So you want to live in the city. But you also want to stay under budget. Oh, and you want a little peace and quiet at night…and guaranteed parking and a yard for your dog and a good school district and… All of that sounds great, and they’re all reasonable wants. The reality is you’re probably not going to get all of that living in a larger city. Instead of compromising on your wants and needs for a specific location, you might want to think about looking for a home in a bedroom community.

The term bedroom community is used to describe suburbs and exurbs where much of the population is made up of people who commute to the city for work. They come home to their suburb (or exurb, as the case may be) in the evenings to their primary residence, the place where they sleep. Hence the term “bedroom” community. If you’ve been thinking of buying a home in one of these areas, you might want to weight the pros and cons before you start the search for your new home.

The Pros

Bedroom communities are appealing alternatives to city living because of the potential savings, more space, and lower cost of living. Housing costs, property taxes, and prices of things like food and gas tend to be lower in suburbs than they are in cities. It’s also easier to find peace and quiet outside of the city. Bedrooms communities tend to have less traffic, fewer large construction projects, fewer emergency response vehicles at all hours, and no ambient noise from nearby restaurants and bars. Privacy is a little easier to come by as well. In the middle of a city, living quarters are quite literally right on top of each other. Homes in the suburbs tend to be more spread out. And if they’re not, you can always build a fence, right? That brings us to another perk. Living in a bedroom community usually comes with fewer regulations about what you can and cannot do to your property. There’s no fighting with the Board of Architecture if you want to paint your front door or build a new deck.

The Cons

As with anything in life, living in a bedroom community comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Perhaps the biggest one of all is the daily commute between home and work. Daily traffic usually runs away from the suburbs toward the city in the mornings, and vice versa in the evenings. That means unless you work nights, you’ll be right in there with the rest of the traffic each morning and night. Suburbs often have fewer options to choose from when it comes to dining out, nightlife, and shopping. If you don’t own a car, a bedroom community might not be for you. Public transportation options can be limited as well. If you’re used to lots of action throughout the day and night, moving to a suburb or exurb could leave you feeling cut off, with an outside-looking-in type of feeling.

The pros and cons of living in a bedroom community can honestly be somewhat subjective. Maybe you like some noise when you’re trying to go to sleep at night. Or maybe you find a daily commute a good time to prepare your mind for the workday and a good way to unwind after work. Everyone’s different! The best thing to do is take each pro and con into consideration and decide for yourself if life in a bedroom community is for you.

Six Ways to Spook a Seller

When you’re trying to buy a house, you want the seller to like you and your offer. But when sellers have the upper hand and sometimes multiple offers to choose from, it’s easier to scare them off than you might think. In the spirit of October and all things Halloween, let’s take a look at a few ways buyers can “spook” sellers.

Lack of Mortgage Pre-Approval

You should absolutely, positively, without any excuses be pre-approved for a mortgage before you start the house hunting process. In fact, many real estate agents won’t agree to show you any homes until you have that pre-approval letter in hand. It shows them that you’re not wasting your time or theirs, and it shows sellers that you’re serious about buying. Submit an offer without showing a copy of that pre-approval letter, and the seller will be spooked for sure.

A Dubious Mortgage Lender

If you want to inspire confidence in a seller, don’t use a less-than-reputable lender. It’s comforting to see the name of a well-known lender or bank on a pre-approval letter. If the seller sees the name of some financial institution or website they’ve never heard of, they might wonder if your pre-approval is authentic.

A Lowball Offer

Making an offer that’s much lower than the asking price is a red flag to most sellers. Any smart seller will have a good Realtor® on their side. That Realtor® is a pro at pricing homes appropriately based on a comparative market analysis. It might seem to you that a lowball offer just lowers the jumping-off point for negotiations. But in a lot of cases, it can hurt you more than help you. Many sellers won’t even entertain lowball offers or attempt to negotiate. They’ll simply say “no thanks” and move on, and you’ll risk losing the home to another buyer.

Too Many Contingencies

There are many types of contingencies, all of which exist to protect the parties in a real estate transaction. It’s fine—in fact, it’s pretty much expected—to include a few contingencies, such as your ability to obtain financing and the completion of a satisfactory home inspection. But once you start adding all manner of contingencies to your offer, the seller might wonder why you need so many possible “outs.” If you’re serious about buying a house, consider the number and types of contingencies you include carefully.

Too Many Repairs

We’ve seen this one happen more times than we can count. Buyers get their home inspection report back and present the seller with a laundry list of fixes they want them to take care of. It’s more than okay to ask the seller to repair big ticket items, but don’t expect them to fix every little thing on the list.

Requesting Personal Items

Asking the seller for the painting on the dining room wall or a piece of furniture that fits the living room just right could creep them out a little bit. It’s reasonable to ask that the seller throw in a fridge or light fixture in the sale of a home, but there’s a line you shouldn’t cross when making an offer. You can always as later on down the road if they’d be willing to include the item you have your eye on, but never do so when making your initial offer.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of “Jumping the Gun” When Selling Your Home

In a seller's market, inventory is low and prices are on the higher side. When neighboring homes are being sold at amounts that would pay off your mortgage and give you a nice cushion, the temptation to put your home on the market can be substantial. But what if you sell now and the market just keeps getting better? What if you accept an offer and then find out six months later than prices have gone up even more? Welcome to seller's remorse.

It's hard to know the exact best time to try to sell your home. In fact, there's no way to know for sure. The real estate market is always fluctuating. Selling your home is a bit like dabbling in the stock market. No one can accurately predict the future, so why try? Here are a few reasons why you shouldn't second-guess yourself when selling your home.

Hindsight Is Always 20/20

As we said before, you're never going to be one hundred percent sure it's the exact, perfect time to sell your home. As with most things in life, you won't know the outcome until the decision’s been made and action has been taken. All you can really do is listen to your Realtor's expert advice and do what's best for you and your situation. The worst that can happen is that you'll miss out on making an extra few thousand dollars, and while that might sound like a pretty big miss, it brings us to our next point…

Your Competitors' Prices Are Going Up Too

Waiting to see if the market picks up even more means your competitors might be doing the same. If prices are going up for you, they're going up for sellers you might potentially buy from as well. So even if you end up making more money from the sale of your house, you'll probably just be using that profit to make up for the higher cost of your next home. Unless you're planning to move to a completely different city or downsize by a lot, waiting might not pan out as far as making a higher profit.

You Have a Good Reason to Sell

M​ost homeowners don't just sell their houses on a whim. If someone's putting their house on the market, there's usually a reason for it. Maybe you got a new job and need to relocate. Maybe you're having a baby and want to live closer to family members. Maybe you just need the cash. Whatever your reason is for selling, try to remain confident in your decision. Thinking about what could happen if you could only hold out a little longer will only stress you out.

We can’t emphasize enough the fact that there’s no one perfect time sell your home. Of course there will be intervals when the market is busier, periods of lower inventory, and times when selling is just more convenient. But these times won’t always align when you need to sell. Thinking and worrying about the money you might have made if you’d just waited another year won’t do anything for you in the end. Just do what’s best for you and your family, and it will all work out in the end.




A friend of ours who recently bought a house enthusiastically referred us to Johnson & Wilson. Our friend's recommendation was top notch - Johnson & Wilson. is AWESOME! - Brian
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