Buying a House with 0% Down

Welcome! And thanks to The Pawling Record for including this new column in our local paper. No matter where I go, when people find out I’m a realtor, they always have some sort of question: How’s the market? When is the busiest time of year? What is a short sale? How much money do I have to put down on a mortgage? Etc., etc., etc. I’ve become a sort of “Ann Landers” of Real Estate.

Today, the general public still embraces the thought of owning their own home. There are a lot of myths regarding how much wealth a person must accumulate in order to consider home ownership. Many of the misconceptions come about because the real estate market is a constantly changing landscape. I often compare it to the stock market – values go up, values go down – and mortgage requirements change and fluctuate as much as house prices. So what’s true at one point in history is not necessarily true now. The advice of friends, relatives and neighbors from years ago, though certainly well intentioned, simply may not apply.

Today, there really is a loan product where a buyer literally needs $0 to qualify for a mortgage loan. This a USDA loan – United States Department of Agriculture – a government backed loan that applies to homes that are located in specific areas throughout the country that are considered “agricultural.” This definition does not mean that the property is a farm or has to be in a secluded, rural area. It only means that the general surroundings are not commercial or industrial and a home has to qualify by checking on the USDA website. We have areas in Dutchess County that qualify as close as Wingdale and Holmes (Of course, there are others as well). You need to know that there are income restrictions on this type of loan, but for buyers who thought they needed 20% down, you definitely have an avenue to explore. Some of the VA (Veterans Administration) loans also do not require a deposit. If you have served in any branch of the military, you may qualify for this type of mortgage. Other government backed loans such as: FHA (Federal Housing Authority), SONYMA (State of New York Mortgage Agency) as well as Conventional mortgages (from numerous banks and mortgage companies) require deposits as low as 3% or 3-1/2% of the purchase price. Many of these loans offer an option to roll your closing costs into the loan, so again you will only need a minimal amount of cash to move ahead with a purchase. All these loans give accessibility and hope to many prospective home buyers.

If I could give you any advice, the first step to homeownership with no money down (or very little money down) is to talk to a mortgage professional. Explore the many options available and see if one fits your needs and budget. And armed with a pre-approval letter and the knowledge of your price range, you can start your house hunting in earnest. Please feel free to contact me with all your questions, concerns and topics you would like to see covered in future Pawling Record columns.

Judy Albert is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Hudson Valley Properties in Pawling. Licensed in NY & CT, SRES, Relocation Certified. Email your questions to, call 845-855-8500 Ext. 301 or 845-283-7865

Visit her website at