Ask the Loan Man by Hans Bruhner — March 2020

I talk to at least one person a week who tells me that they just don’t have the 20% down payment saved to get into a home right now. My answer is always the same…. GREAT! How much do you have?

There are many low-down mortgage programs available. If you are a veteran or active military then there are VA loans with NO MONEY DOWN. We happen to be an affiliate of Homes for Heroes and we give a break on fees to the veterans and so do the real estate agents.

There is a USDA loan which is designed to help folks in rural areas get into homes in rural America and this program requires NO MONEY DOWN as well. You need to make below a certain income level, and you have to buy in a rural area. Around here, that means anywhere in west county, many parts of east county, Windsor and all parts north.

FHA will allow you to put just 3.5% down and you can get great rates and your credit does not need to be perfect and it will allow for a little higher debt ratios. This program is designed for first time homebuyers, but you do not need to be a First timer in order to buy and there are no income or geographic limitations. You can also add down payment assistance programs and closing cost assistance programs so that you can get in for very little down.

Conventional loans are available for as little as 3% down also. If you need a high balance or a Jumbo loan, you need only put 5% down to get into one of these loans.

Most loan programs will allow for you to get a gift of funds from a family member to help with the down payment and you can ask in your contract for the seller to help with closing costs. If you need help qualifying, then we can utilize a co-borrower for that as well. My lovely 23-year-old daughter Anna bought a house in Portland and her wonderful parents co-signed for her and she has roommates to help cover the mortgage. She is 26 now and building equity in a home of her own.

The Homes for Heroes program described above for veterans is also available to Police, Firefighters, Educators and Health Professionals. You can’t get the ZERO Down VA loan, but you can get help with closing costs from a participating mortgage and real estate professional.

If you can’t qualify for something on your own, maybe you can buy a home with a granny unit or a duplex and we can use the rental income to offset the mortgage payments and make your own monthly payments more affordable.

Basically, what I am saying is that you should work with a mortgage advisor to see what you can qualify for and what is available to you. Do not decide that you can’t make this happen before you find out.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, Either way, you are right.”

And if you prefer a sports quote, Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and Hans Bruhner says “It’s your turn.”

Need to know more? Please send me your real estate and mortgage related questions. I am happy to answer you and it may become the topic of a future article.

Hans Bruhner (NMLS 243484) is a Mortgage Advisor for Finance of America Mortgage (NMLS 1071). Both are licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the CRMLA. If you have a question, please contact Hans at(707) 887-1275 or

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