Consumer Report: Getting a down payment

FILE - This Oct. 20, 2009, file photo, shows a home with a reduced price for sale in Carmel, Ind., neighborhood. Short of cash and unsettled in their careers, young Americans are waiting longer than ever to buy their first homes. The delay reflects a trend that cuts to the heart of the financial challenges facing millennials: Renters are struggling to save for down payments. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Millennials are becoming a major force in the housing market. According to a Consumer Reports’ survey, almost three-quarters of Americans between 18 and 34 say they’d like to buy their own home. But high rental costs and student debt make it difficult to save for a down payment.

It’s best to put 20 percent down, so you can avoid costly mortgage insurance and trim your monthly payments. Consumer Reports says there are resources to help people get low- and zero-interest loans to help with up-front costs. These programs are intended to bring people into the housing market who really have the basics in place. They just need a little extra something to get them into housing.

You can find out about available programs at downpaymentresource.com. There, you’ll also learn about opportunities for educators, firefighters, and those in other professions.

Another resource for low-to- moderate-income borrowers is a new mortgage called HomeReady. Applicants can report rent from roommates or tenants as income.

First-time buyers may also reach out to parents and other relatives to borrow money to buy a house. But Consumer Reports cautions that they should make sure they don’t run afoul of IRS guidelines.

No matter how you plan to pay for your home, Consumer Reports says first-time buyers should make sure their credit record is as good as possible. That will help you get the best deal, no matter who your lender is.

And if you are buying a first home, it is important to get unbiased help so you how much you can really afford.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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