On a practical level, though, the bigger the down payment you can make now, the more of a buffer you'll have in the future. "In the last recession, the people who lost their homes were the people who did no-money-down loans or put down 5 percent," says Bach. "Don't do that."
Instead, he says, "do it the old American way, save a bunch of money," and then, "put a good down payment down there, and be safe."
A down payment of 20 percent or more is a great start. Still, keep in mind that, to truly afford a place of your own, you also need enough to cover closing costs and moving expenses, as well as necessary repairs and maintenance, all while maintaining your emergency fund.
The biggest mistake first-time home-buyers make is not accounting for closing costs, says Corcoran, who admits to making that mistake herself: "When I bought my first home I showed up at the table to close without the closing costs. Thank God I was able to borrow it from the very nice seller or I couldn't have closed on the place."
Now she can pass the lesson onto you: "Don't forget the closing costs."
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