How Much is a Down Payment on a 300K House?

Aspiring homeowners often wonder, “How much is a down payment on a 300K house?” It’s a critical question to ask when embarking on the journey toward homeownership.

In Illinois, the down payment requirements vary based on the loan program you plan to use and the property’s purchase price. 

A residential house in Chicago, Illinois

What is a down payment?

A down payment is the initial cash payment made towards a property purchase, representing a portion of the total purchase price. Lenders require homebuyers to make a down payment to ensure they have some equity, or stake, in the purchase. Your required down payment is calculated as a percentage of the total purchase price of the house, and it is paid upfront at the time of closing. The down payment amount is subtracted from the total purchase price, and the remaining balance is financed with a mortgage.

How much you need to pay as a down payment on a house depends on a variety of factors such as your credit score, the type of loan you choose, the home price, and your mortgage lender. 

How does a Down payment differ from Closing costs?

While a down payment represents the upfront portion of the purchase price, closing costs are expenses incurred during the purchase process. Closing costs on a house can include attorney fees, points, appraisal fees, home inspection fees, title fees, title insurance cost, transfer taxes and more. 

While the down payment is paid to the seller and goes toward the home’s purchase price, closing costs are paid to third-party service providers and an additional sum.

Why do I need to make a down payment when buying a home?

Lenders require a down payment to ensure that the borrower has invested their own money in purchasing the home. This shows the lender that the borrower is committed to the purchase and is less likely to default on the mortgage payments. 

A down payment also reduces the lender’s risk, ensuring the borrower has some equity in the home.

A table with a calculator, specs, keys, house keychain, and a pen. These items are essential for calculating mortgage payments and ensuring proper coverage from monthly mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, and payment loans. A conventional mortgage requires careful consideration of mortgage lenders to ensure the best possible terms.

How does the size of your down payment impact your mortgage?

Need for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

PMI is typically required if you make a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s purchase price.

For example, let’s say you’re buying a $300,000 home and you make a down payment of 10% ($30,000). 

  • In this case, you would need to pay for PMI, which could add hundreds of dollars to your monthly mortgage payment.
  • If you make a down payment of 20% ($60,000), you won’t need to pay for PMI. This can save you a significant amount of money over the life of your mortgage.
  • Once you pay down the principal balance of your loan to achieve 20% equity, your PMI payments will stop.

Monthly Mortgage Payment

The larger your down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage payment will be.

For example, let’s say you’re buying a $500,000 home and getting a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 6%. 

  • If you make a down payment of 20% ($100,000), your monthly principal and interest (P&I) payment would be around $2,398.
  • But, if you only make a down payment of 5% ($25,000), your monthly P&I payment would be about $2,848.  Plus you would have a monthly PMI payment of around $135.00. That’s a difference of almost $600 per month!
  • Keep in mind that, in the above examples, you will also likely have an additional amount in your monthly payment to fund an escrow for payment of real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

Total Cost of Interest

The larger your down payment, the less interest you’ll pay over time.

For example, let’s say you’re buying a $400,000 home and getting a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 6.5%. 

  • If you make a down payment of 20% ($80,000), you’ll end up paying around $408,142 in interest over the life of your mortgage.
  • But, if you only make a down payment of 5% ($20,000), you’ll end up paying around $484,669 in interest over the life of your mortgage. That’s a difference of nearly $80,000.
A picture of a wooden block with 'mortgage' inscription on it, placed on a table with toy house and dollar currencies. Beside them is a device showing a down payment calculator with graphs and charts. This image represents the financial aspects of homeownership, including monthly payment, mortgage insurance, and payment loan, and emphasizes the importance of choosing the right mortgage lender.

What are the Minimum down payment requirements?

The minimum down payment requirements vary based on your loan program and the property’s purchase price. The minimum down payment requirements for a second home or investment property are typically higher than that of your primary residence and can range from 10% to 25%.

For a primary residence, the minimum down payment requirements are as follows:

Conventional loan: 3 – 20%

A conventional loan is a mortgage that is not guaranteed or insured by a government agency (such as the FHA, VA, or Department of Agriculture). This means that the lender takes on more risk, and therefore, the minimum down payment requirements are typically higher than those of government-backed loans. For a primary residence, the minimum down payment for a conventional loan is typically 3% – 5% for low down payment conventional loans and 20% for a conventional loan without mortgage insurance. 

For example, if you purchase a primary residence with a purchase price of $300,000, a 3% down payment would be $9,000, and a 20% down payment would be $60,000.

Jumbo loan: 10%

Mortgage loans known as “jumbo loans” are those that are larger than the conforming loan limits set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which are government-sponsored entities that buy and sell mortgage-backed securities. Conforming loan limits vary by county and are adjusted annually to reflect changes in housing prices. In general, jumbo loans are used for homes that exceed these limits.

The minimum down payment requirements are often higher for jumbo loans than for conforming ones. Jumbo loans usually require a minimum down payment of 10% as they are considered higher risk due to the larger loan amounts.

FHA loan: 3.5%

A government-backed mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration is known as an FHA loan. As the government guarantees the loan, lenders are willing to accept a lower down payment. For a primary residence, the minimum down payment for an FHA loan is 3.5%. 

For example, if you purchase a primary residence with a purchase price of $300,000, a 3.5% down payment would be $10,500.

VA Loans and USDA Loans: 0%

VA loans and USDA loans are government-backed loans that do not require a down payment. However, certain eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for these loans. For a primary residence, the minimum down payment for a VA or USDA loan is 0%. 

Can you buy a house without a down payment?

While buying a house without a down payment is possible, it is not common and may not be the best option for most buyers. One option for those who cannot afford a down payment is a VA loan, a mortgage loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. These loans are available to eligible veterans, active-duty service members, and surviving spouses, and do not require a down payment.

Another option is a USDA loan, a type of mortgage loan backed by the US Department of Agriculture. These loans are designed to help low-to-moderate-income borrowers in rural areas purchase homes, and they do not require a down payment.

A photo of a toy house with lots of dollar currencies and keys on top of it, representing the financial aspect of buying a home. In the background, there are financial calculators, symbolizing the importance of careful financial planning, as well as mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers, who play a key role in the home buying process.

How much should you put down on the house?

Putting down at least 20% is generally recommended to avoid paying PMI. A larger down payment can result in a lower monthly payment, less interest paid over the life of the loan, and a shorter loan term.

Evaluate your budget

Consider your monthly income, expenses and debts to determine how much you can realistically afford to pay for a mortgage each month. This will help you determine the maximum purchase price you can afford.

Access your home needs

Consider the size and location of the home you need and any necessary repairs or renovations. A larger down payment may be necessary if you purchase a more expensive home or require a larger loan.

If you plan to stay longer, consider a larger down payment to lower your overall mortgage costs. A smaller down payment may be more appropriate if you plan to sell or move out in a few years.

Consider your options

Different loan programs have different down payment requirements, so you should explore your options to find a loan that meets your needs.

Benefits of making a larger down payment

Making a larger down payment has several benefits, including:

  • Lower monthly payments for mortgage
  • Shorter loan term
  • Less interest paid over the life of the loan
  • No PMI payments

Reasons for not putting 20% down

While putting 20% down on a house is often touted as the ideal scenario, it’s not always practical or feasible. Some of the reasons would be:

  1. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may not have the savings to put down 20%. In this case, you can use down payment assistance programs to help you secure a mortgage with a smaller down payment. 
  2. If you would have to drain your emergency savings or retirement accounts to come up with the 20%. 
  3. If you have a low-interest rate on your current mortgage or if you can invest your down payment money elsewhere and earn a higher return, it may not make sense to put 20% down.
  4. If you plan to sell the house or otherwise pay off your loan in a shorter period of time, your additional interest payments over the duration of your loan may not be enough to justify a larger down payment.
A piggy bank next to a new house, symbolizing saving for a home mortgage

How much is a down payment on a house? 

Your down payment size varies according to a number of factors. For example, if you’re purchasing a $500,000 home in Illinois and are required to make a 10% down payment, you’ll need to have $50,000, plus closing costs, available at the time of purchase. Similarly, if you’re purchasing a $300,000 home and you’re required to make a 20% down payment, you’ll need to have $60,000, plus closing costs, available at the time of purchase.

The amount of money you’ll need for a down payment depends on the purchase price of the home and the type of loan you’re using. If you’re using a government-backed loan such as FHA or VA, you can qualify for a lower down payment, sometimes as little as 0% down.

You can use this mortgage payment and down payment calculator to estimate the costs of your mortgage loan.

Also learn more about what does cash to close mean and the difference between closing costs vs cash to close.

Getting your Finances ready to purchase a home

When purchasing a house and/or obtaining a loan, your finances will be examined to make sure you can follow through on your commitment. Your credit score is a significant factor in determining your eligibility for a mortgage loan and the amount of down payment required. 

A good credit score can also help you secure a lower interest rate on your mortgage loan. Therefore, checking your credit score and credit report before applying for a mortgage loan is essential.

A black note with the word 'debt' is stuck on a notice board with some dollar currencies underneath it. This image represents the concept of debt-to-income ratio, where the amount of debt someone owes is compared to their income.

What’s my debt-to-income ratio?

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is crucial in determining your ability to obtain a mortgage loan. It’s the percentage of your monthly income that goes toward paying off your debts, including credit cards, student loans, car loans and more.

Your DTI ratio is determined by adding up all of your monthly debt payments and dividing that total by your gross monthly income. The resulting figure is your DTI ratio expressed as a percentage.

For example, if your monthly debt payments add up to $2,000 and your monthly gross income is $6,000, your DTI ratio is 33% (i.e., $2,000 divided by $6,000, multiplied by 100).

  1. Most lenders generally consider a DTI ratio of 36% or less acceptable. 
  2. However, the ideal DTI ratio varies based on the lender’s requirements and the type of loan. For instance, some lenders may accept a DTI ratio of up to 50% for certain loan types, such as FHA loans.
  3. Generally, lenders prefer a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 43%, although some may allow higher ratios for borrowers with solid credit scores and reserves.

A high DTI ratio signals to lenders that you may have difficulty making timely mortgage payments. To improve your DTI ratio, pay off debts or find ways to increase your income.

It’s important to note that lenders consider two types of DTI ratios when evaluating your mortgage application: front-end and back-end. 

  • The front-end DTI ratio only includes your housing-related expenses (e.g., mortgage payment, property taxes and insurance).
  • The back-end DTI ratio includes all your monthly debt payments.

What documents does the lender need for the down payment?

A lender may require you to provide several documents to verify your financial standing and ensure that you can afford the down payment and the subsequent mortgage payments.

The specific documents required may vary from lender to lender, but in general, you should be prepared to provide the following:

  1. Bank statements: Several months’ worth of bank statements are required to prove that you have the necessary funds for the down payment. These statements should show your account balances, recent transactions, and other relevant financial information.
  2. Pay stubs: Proof of your income to ensure you can afford the down payment and subsequent mortgage payments. You will likely need to provide several recent pay stubs or other proof of income.
  3. Proof of employment: A letter from your employer to ensure that you have a stable source of income.
  4. Tax returns: In some cases, lenders may require copies of your tax returns from the past few years to verify your income and financial standing.
  5. Gift letter: If you receive a gift from a family member or friend to cover all or part of your down payment, you must provide a gift letter. This letter should state the amount of the gift and that it is not a loan that needs to be repaid.
  6. ID and proof of residency: A valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and proof of residency, such as a utility bill or lease agreement with your name and address.

These are just some of the documents that your lender may require. Be sure to check with your lender for the documents they need to process your down payment. 

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, a down payment on a house is a significant financial commitment that requires careful planning and consideration. 

In Illinois, down payments typically range from 5% to 20% of the purchase price. Various loan programs and down payment assistance options are available to help first-time homebuyers and those needing more substantial funds. 

You should research and compare different loan options, factor in mortgage insurance (if required) and closing costs, and speak with your lender to determine the best path forward for your unique financial situation.

Uri Adler