If you’re saving for a down payment, it’s normal to wonder if you have enough money in the bank. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but comparing your savings to the average down payment can be a good gut check. (Some encouraging news: Just about everyone is putting down less than 20%.)
The average down payment varies widely by location, age group and whether someone has owned a house before. Let’s examine a few different sources of data to see how much money people are putting down on houses across the U.S.
What is the typical down payment on a house?
First-time home buyers: 8%
In 2023, the median percent down payment for all home buyers was 15%, according to the 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors. First-time home buyers, at a median age of 35, put down a little less than repeat buyers. At a median age of 59, repeat buyers have had more time to build wealth and home equity.
Did you know…
A quick refresher from math class: “Average” and “median” are calculated a little bit differently. An average can be skewed by high and low extremes, so it can be less representative of what most folks actually pay. The median is often a more accurate measure of the true middle.
Median down payment on a house (in dollars)
What do those percentages mean in real money? Let’s do some math. The median existing-home sales price in September 2023 was $394,300, according to the NAR. Using that price as an example, here’s what those median down payment percentages look like:
8% down (first-time buyers): $31,544.
15% down (all buyers): $59,145.
19% down (repeat buyers): $74,917.
If these numbers seem steep, remember the amounts will be lower for a house below this price point. After all, plenty of people — especially first-time home buyers — are house-hunting below the $400,000 mark.
Here’s what those median down payment percentages look like for a house that costs $250,000, about the median price for a home in Pittsburgh (according to Realtor.com).
8% down (first-time buyers): $20,000.
15% down (all buyers): $37,500.
19% down (repeat buyers): $47,500.
You don’t need to put 20% down to buy a house. That’s just the cutoff many lenders use for requiring private mortgage insurance (PMI) on a conventional loan. If you put less than 20% down, leave some wiggle room in your budget to account for the cost of monthly mortgage insurance payments.
Median down payment by age
Generally speaking, older buyers make larger down payments than younger buyers. As you build wealth (including home equity) over time, you might have a little more to apply toward a down payment.
Average down payment by state
Housing prices — and down payments — vary widely depending on where you live. Let’s take a look at the data by state, according to Q3 2023 data compiled by the research team at Realtor.com.
Places with the highest median down payments (in dollars)
District of Columbia: $98,670.
Places with the lowest median down payments (in dollars)
Here is the full list of the average down payment (as a percentage) and the median down payment (as a dollar amount), according to Realtor.com.
Average down payment (percentage)
Median down payment (dollars)
What percent down payment do you need for a house?
When you’re ready to buy, you don’t need to put 20% down. See if you qualify for these ways to help you stretch your savings.
If a smaller down payment is more reasonable for your budget, you have options.
FHA loans: These mortgages, backed by the Federal Housing Administration, offer down payments as low as 3.5%.
VA loans and USDA loans: If you qualify for one of these 0% down mortgages, you won’t need a down payment at all — though you are still on the hook for closing costs and fees.
Down payment assistance programs
In some cases, you don’t have to pay for your whole down payment by yourself. You might qualify for down payment or closing cost assistance. These funds are offered through state or local governments, as well as nonprofit organizations.
Read the fine print to see if you qualify. Most programs are designed for low- to middle-income borrowers who are buying a home for the first time.
What’s a good down payment for a house?
Short answer: As much as you’re comfortably able to contribute.
A good down payment isn’t so high that it drains your savings or so low that you can’t afford the monthly mortgage payment.
In general: A higher down payment means a less expensive mortgage. When you put more money down, a mortgage lender will charge less in interest rates and fees.
Even with a smaller down payment, a house is a big investment. A good first step is to see if renting vs. buying makes more sense for your budget right now. If you’re early in your savings journey, it might be worth it to spend time socking some money away before you start your house hunt.