The countdown has begun—there is just over a month until Tax Day 2019! The IRS has already issued 38.5 million tax refunds as of February 22, totaling in $121 billion dollars. The average federal tax refund so far? $3,143.
Over the next few months, the IRS estimates about seven out of 10 filers will get a refund. If you're expecting a refund, here are three ways it could bring you closer to homeownership.
Save for a down payment. Saving for a down payment can be one of the biggest barriers to homeownership. In fact, 24% of renters surveyed said the reason they were currently renting instead of owning was because they were still saving for a down payment. But many of today's homebuyers overestimate the size of the down payment they need. Depending on your credit history and other factors, you can make a down payment of about 5 to 10% — not 20%, as a lot of people assume. With options like Freddie Mac's 3% down Home Possible® mortgage, qualified borrowers could make a down payment of as little as $6,000 for a $200,000 home.
Down payment assistance programs can also help you bridge the cash gap. With over 2,500 homeownership programs across the country that can help you save on your down payment and closing costs, a great place to start is researching where you live. Many state, county, and city governments provide financial assistance for people in their communities who are well qualified and ready for homeownership. Check out the programs available in your market and see if your eligible.
Pay for closing costs. Typically, homebuyers will pay between about 2% to 5% of the purchase price of their home in closing costs, or between $4,000 and $10,000 on a $200,000 home. Closing costs will vary depending on where you live so be sure to see where your state stacks up and understand your costs.
Lower your interest rate. You can pay discount points to buy down your mortgage interest rate. A "point" equals one percent of the loan. It's essentially an upfront interest payment to lock in a lower interest rate on your fixed-rate mortgage. So, if you are borrowing $200,000, paying one discount point would mean paying $2,000 upfront at closing – but it may end up saving you more in interest payments over the life of the loan. See how paying extra points might lower your rate.
For more information on becoming a homeowner, visit My Home by Freddie Mac®.