Uncle Sam Helps First-Time Homebuyers With Down Payment

Off the Charts: The Visual Says It All

A couple looks at paperwork.

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Wondering where first-time homebuyers are getting the money for today’s increasingly exorbitant down payments? Those stimulus checks most of us received from the government, for one.

A recent survey of 215 first-time buyers shows what some economists have suspected all along—that many people took those pandemic relief checks (three rounds totaling up to $3,200 per person in 2020 and 2021) and applied them toward down payments. As the chart below shows, it was the second-most common answer the real estate firm Redfin received from survey respondents who were asked how they accumulated the money for a house.

As houses have been in high demand (thanks partly to work-from-home trends) and home prices have risen rapidly, so have the size of down payments. The median down payment in the third quarter of 2021 was $27,500, 41% higher than a year earlier, according to a recent report from ATTOM Data.

“Plenty of Americans, particularly those who are in a position to buy a home, are now in a better financial position than before,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said in a statement. “Stimulus payments provided a lot of Americans not only with necessary relief, but extra money in their pockets."

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.

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  1. Redfin. “1 in 4 First-Time Homebuyers Are Using Stimulus Money For Down Payment.”

  2. ATTOM Data. “Top 10 U.S. Metros with Highest Home-Purchase Down Payments.”

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