Brick Underground's best advice on down payments in New York City

By Donna M. Airoldi  | June 13, 2018 - 10:00AM

The biggest obstacle to home ownership in New York City is the dreaded down payment. Most co-ops and condos require a minimum of 20 percent down, sometimes more. Even for houses, many banks also now want that much up front.

For most of New York City (particularly Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens), that means squirreling away anywhere from $100,000 to nearly $200,000—and that’s before you factor in attorney’s fees, closing costs, and up to 24 months in post-closing liquidity.

But all is not lost. If owning a place to call your own in New York City is your goal, here are some tips.

Save, save, save

Yes, cutting unnecessary expenses and increasing savings is one step to amassing a small fortune. But is there a right way to save for a down payment? Interest rates have slowly been rising, so banks may be offering better saving rates. There are also investment options.

In addition, here are five apps to help you save for a down payment.

Expert recommendations

In addition to saving, there are other solutions to consider that help accumulate funds and get past the down payment problem, such as an aggregator of house-buying programs, loans against your 401(k), and looking for an HDFC apartment.

Co-op versus condo

Co-ops generally require anywhere from a 20 percent to 30 percent down payment. Condos, however, can sometimes be bought for 10 percent down, but their sales prices are usually higher. (Check out more differences in our How to Buy a New York City Apartment guide.) So which is better: A big down payment or a big mortgage?

Alternative loan options

If you’ve done your purchasing homework, then you know SONYMA and FHA loans can be had for just 3 percent down for qualified borrowers. There also are new options for buyers who can’t come up with the 20 percent down payment, such as the resurrection of piggyback loans and affordable mortgage programs offered by banks, credit unions and alternative lenders—though you may end up paying a higher interest rate with these.


Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.