down payments

Once a week I hear the expected question, "So..... when are you guys coming back?" It's a good question and the answer remains, after graduation, as soon as we can afford it. But what does that mean?

We are not a couple who says things like, "We're waiting to be financially set before we have kids." Do we think it's reasonable that we wait until we have a bedroom to put our first child in? Yes. But I don't imagine we will ever be "financially set". However, we do wanna be able to buy a house when we move back to Virginia.

When I watch HGTV {not at our house since we don't have a tv} I am normally disgusted by the people on house hunters. Their lists go something like this:

  • 5 bedroom
  • 3 or 4 bath
  • Updated kitchen
  • 4,000+ sq. ft.
  • 2 car garage
  • Carpet in the bedrooms
  • Jet tubs
  • Walk-in closets
  • Open concept
  • Gated community
  • Great school district
  • In ground pool
  • Budget: $800,000

Our list
  • 3 bedroom
  • 2 bath
  • Hardwood floors
  • A yard
  • A fireplace
  • 1,200+ sq. ft.
K, here's the question. What percentage is a reasonable down payment? We've been looking online, trying to figure out how much we need to save before we move back. So I'm asking you, especially if you live in Hampton Roads. What percentage is a reasonable down payment? What percentage did you put down on your house? 

Oh, or!!! You guys could all come live in Powell!! Cost of living is super cheap (literally you could get 2,000 sq. ft. here for the same price you can get 1,200 sq. ft. in Virginia Beach} and then we wouldn't have to move back. So either you commit to moving, or you tell us what percentage of our home price we should have saved before we come back. Obviously, we understand that we need to save a little more for backup extra "just in case" money, but help a young couple out. :)


  1. 20%. It's old fashioned and it's a lot. Also, I have no idea what that comes out to in Virginia Beach housing market money, but I'm sure it really is a lot. On the other hand, it's safe and responsible and banks will be falling all over themselves to give you the other 80% on great terms.

    It's also one of the few really, really sure ways to avoid having your mortgage underwater.

    All of that being said, I definitely recommend renting too. Having owned a home for 6 years, I definitely have regrets about buying. A home is a poor to mediocre investment (so renting isn't really "throwing your money away"). It also ties you down to one place and limits your options. Plus, most rentals around our area are actually nicer than most homes around here.

    If you're working on saving up, and trying to get to 20%, renting for a while might be the best option. It'd get you home without saddling you with a large mortgage and no equity.

    1. Summer Johnson5/24/12, 8:44 AM

      Well said, Joseph.

  2. I wrote a post about what we did that may be helpful. http://awifeandhercarpenter.blogspot.com/2012/03/doing-moon-walk.html

    It gives you and idea of how to set up a mortgage and save yourself money in the long run. 20% down is a nice amount to save for a down payment because a traditional loan usually requires that much. Though, a lot of banks are willing to do a whole lot more with today's economy.

    A house is a great investment but you need to be careful what you buy, nonetheless.

    Good luck!!! :)


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