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How Can I Use My 401k To Buy A House

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Can I Use Money From My 401 For A Down Payment

Can I Use My 401k To Buy A House

Id like to purchase a new home at the beach that will become my primary residence in about six or seven years when I retire. Im thinking of taking $200,000 from my 401 as a down payment.

Im not getting the best returns on it anyway as Ive been retired from the company and, although diversified, still not seeing any results. Im still working and contributing to another 401 and hope to have $250,000 in this when I retire. But I was always told never to touch my 401 money. What are your thoughts?

First, I am glad that you are saving for your retirement and thinking about the appropriate use of your 401. Many professionals will tell you not to take money out of a 401k for several reasons:

  • The funds you deposited into your 401 are pre-tax dollars, meaning you have not paid any taxes on them. In fact, the amount you deposit into your 401 each year reduces your adjusted gross income. All growth and income within your 401 are not taxed.
  • Often, as a benefit to you, your employer will match a portion of your 401 deposits as an enticement to save for retirement. Typically, there is a vesting period during which you need to keep your 401 plan in place before these funds become available to you without penalty. If you try to take money out before then, you often forego a significant portion of your employers match.
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    Which Type Of Home Will Best Suit Your Needs

    You have a number of options when purchasing a residential property: a traditional single-family home, a duplex, a townhouse, a condominium, a co-operative, or a multifamily building with two to four units. Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your homeownership goals, so you need to decide which type of property will help you reach those goals. You can save on the purchase price in any category by choosing a fixer-upper, but be forewarned: The amount of time, sweat equity, and money required to turn a fixer-upper into your dream home might be a lot more than you bargained for.

    When Does Using A 401 For Down Payment Make Sense

    The decision to go into your 401 for down payment money should only be made after careful analysis. You first need to check with your plan administrator to see if its allowed. Not all companies that maintain 401 savings plans offer a borrowing option. If its permitted, its time to explore all alternatives before deciding what makes sense.

    Using a 401 generally only works in your favor if the money is used to avoid paying for private mortgage insurance on your home loan. Most conventional home loans require that you obtain and pay extra for mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20% of a propertys purchase price. Mortgage insurance typically costs 0.5% to 1% of the total value of the loan on an annual basis and must be paid each month until you reach achieve 20% equity in your home.

    Before shopping for a home, use online tools or meet with a mortgage broker to determine how large a loan and down payment you can afford. Buying a home that you might struggle to afford could become a financial disaster, so its important to know what sort of mortgages are available and how much they will cost you a month based on current interest rates. Mortgage insurance is part of the equation if you cant cover a standard down payment.

    Not all loans require mortgage insurance for down payments of less than 20%.

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    What Happens If You Use Your 401 To Buy A House

    Your 401 might be your largest asset, making it a tempting source of funds for your down payment but going this route isnt usually recommended.

    Edited byChris JenningsUpdated October 11, 2021

    Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as “Credible.”

    Saving up for a down payment can be a major hurdle to homeownership, especially since it isnt the only expense in the mortgage process. You might need to come up with money for closing costs, moving costs, and modifications or furnishings for your new home as well.

    If youre short on cash, one way you can fund your down payment is to draw from your 401. However, this comes with significant drawbacks.

    Heres what you need to know about using your 401 for a home down payment:

    Can I Use My 401k To Buy A House

    Can I Use My 401(k) To Buy A House?

    By | Submitted On May 31, 2009

    Yes, it’s your money of course you can.

    The 401 is simply a section in a bill passed by Congress in 1978 to encourage Americans to save money for retirement. Congress wanted a way for people to save money free of State and Federal taxes. The Tax Reform Act was passed and declared in it was Section 401 paragraph k declaring a tax-deferred savings plan for employees. The 401k plan offers:

    • Free money matched by your employer
    • automatic deposits from your paycheck
    • peace of mind when you retire and need money

    Can I use my 401k to buy a house? Absolutely, it’s your money. You were the one with the job, you were the one who pulled the money out of your paycheck and you were the one who specified what to invest in. It’s your money like any other investment. But I wouldn’t recommend you spending it on a house. I would be more creative in finding alternative ways of making money to buy a house.

    I recommend saving a few dollars and investing it for a short period of time then using it to buy a house. Learn how to double your money every month.

    What are the Pros to using my 401k to buy a house?

    If you’ve been investing for a long time then you may have enough to put a 20% down payment on your house.

    What are the alternatives to using my 401k to buy a house?

    Look into quicker investments for making money while keeping your 401k safe.

    Read Also: Does A 401k Rollover Count As A Contribution

    Withdraw From Your Ira

    While using a 401 for a down payment may be costly at tax season, theres a good chance you might have better luck taking a distribution from an IRA instead. In this case, the rules around distributions depend on what kind of IRA you have. For example, if youre withdrawing from a Roth IRA, you can take a tax-free distribution at any time , provided that youve had the account for at least five years.

    With a traditional IRA, however, the rules are a little bit different. Here, the tax scenario works similarly to a 401, where your distributions are taxed as ordinary income and youre typically taxed on early withdrawals. However, there is an exception for first-time homebuyers: They are allowed to borrow up to $10,000 to put towards their down payment without having to pay the extra 10% early distribution tax.

    Pros And Cons Of Borrowing From Your 401k


    • Eliminate PMI with 20% down

    • Buy a home quicker by accessing your money

    • 401k balance will be repaid with interest

    • No tax penalty if a promise to repay is made

    • Monthly payments will be high with mortgage and 401k payments

    • Can’t contribute to 401k until the loan is paid back

    • Lose out on matched contributions from your employer

    • If you leave your employer, loan must be repaid within 60 days

    When Using Your 401K to Buy a House is a Good Idea

    While most financial advisors will strongly advise you not to use your retirement funds for your down payment on a house, there are certain situations where it could save you a lot of money.

    Avoiding PMI with a 20% down payment

    Lets say youre buying a $300,000 home with a $30,000 down payment with a 5% rate for 30 years. You will be required to carry private mortgage insurance because youre putting less than 20% down. Your monthly payment will be $1,449.42, including insurance, property taxes, and PMI of $112.50 monthly.

    If you can borrow another $30,000 from your 401k account, you will have a $60,000 down payment, 20% of the purchase price. You avoid PMI and have a monthly mortgage payment of $1,288.37, a savings of $161.05 per month over 30 years, saving you $57,978 over the life of the loan.

    Becoming a First-Time Homeowner

    Buying a home is cheaper than renting in the long run. Not only can you save money each month, but you will also be building equity with each payment.

    If you can Pay Back to Loan in Less than a Year

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    What Is An Ira

    An IRA is a type of account set up at a bank, brokerage firm, mutual fund company, insurance company or other types of financial institution. Regardless of where the account is held, the purpose is the same: it is a place to hold assets to be used during retirement. IRAs can be used to invest in many types of assets . Some IRAs can be self-directed, allowing you to choose how to invest, ranging from investing in CDs, government bonds, mutual funds, stocks, even investment property .

    There are many kinds of IRAs, but the two most common are Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. They differ based on the tax rules that regulate each type of IRA account, and specifically, how and when the account holder gets a tax break.

    Which Specific Features Do You Want Your Ideal Home To Have

    Can I Use My 401k To Buy a House?

    While its good to retain some flexibility in this list, youre making perhaps the biggest purchase of your life, and you deserve to have that purchase fit both your needs and wants as closely as possible. Your list should include basic desires, like size and neighborhood, all the way down to smaller details like bathroom layout and a kitchen fitted with durable appliances. Scanning real estate websites can help you get a sense of the pricing and availability of properties offering the features that are most important to you.

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    Make A 401 Withdrawal

    Your second option would be to make a direct withdrawal from your 401 account. As mentioned above, this is the less desirable of the two options.

    An early withdrawal would be classified as a hardship withdrawal. The IRS considers any emergency removal of funds from a 401 to cover an immediate and heavy financial need as a hardship withdrawal. Whether or not the purchase of a home using your 401 counts as a hardship withdrawal is a determination that falls to your employer, and you will need to present evidence of hardship before the withdrawal can be approved.

    Regardless, you will still likely incur the 10% early withdrawal penalty. There are exemptions in place for specific circumstances, including home buying expenses for a principal residence. Qualifying for such exemptions is difficult by design, however. If you possess other assets that could be used for your home purchase, then you likely wont qualify for an exemption. Even if you do, your withdrawal will still be taxed as income.

    Saving For A Rainy Day

    Theres nothing like a new home to keep the rain at bay. Save for it. Many people save for three to 10 years before buying a house. Setting up a separate savings account and gradually building up enough for a down payment is a great idea. Even in the midst of saving for a home, most people who are working will continue contributing to their employers saving plan, especially when the employer provides matching contributions. When prioritizing, it may be best to set aside an amount for your retirement accounts, and then determine an amount for your house.

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    What Is A 401k

    A 401k is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that many, but not all, companies establish for their employees and often contribute some amount too. Upon enrollment in the plan, you can choose how much youd like to contribute either a set dollar amount or a percentage of your salary. That amount is then deducted from your paycheck and goes into your 401k investment plan on a pre-tax basis. As of 2019, people can invest up to $19,000 in their 401k each year.

    Each plan has its own limited list of available investment options for you to choose from. If you do not select a specific plan, you will be auto-enrolled into a default investment selected by your plan provider.

    The big thing to understand about a 401k is that you will be taxed upon withdrawing money from your account in retirement. It doesnt matter if the funds you withdraw came from your own contribution or the earnings from your investment in either case, the funds will be considered part of your gross income on your tax return and taxed accordingly.

    Benefits Of Borrowing From Your 401k To Buy A Home

    Can I Use My 401k to Buy a House? Pros and Cons, Explained

    The great thing about 401k loans is that they dont count towards your debt-to-income ratio. Using a 401k loan to finance your down payment can put you in a more favorable position for financing your mortgage. And, these loans are not reported to the credit bureaus, so they dont impact your credit score. It can also be beneficial to borrow from your 401k as a first time home buyer in order to make a higher down payment, especially in a competitive housing market. That said, you should consider the monthly payments on your 401k loan along with your monthly mortgage payment to ensure that these payments are within your budget.

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    The Pros Of Buying Property With A 401k

    The primary benefit of buying investment property via a 401k is that youre able to do so by taking a loan that is both tax-free and penalty-free.

    There are other tax benefits worth consideration. For instance, when purchasing a property with a 401k, any income generated from that property will not be taxed. Instead, the income is put directly into the 401k plan. This means that the owner never actually receives the income, but theyll have this income available in their 401k upon retirement.

    However, there is one important exception to this rule: loans against a 401k need not be the only investment in a rental property. Lets say you take out the maximum loan amount and then use the proceeds to invest in a property that requires a $200,000 down payment. The property then generates $2,000 per month in rental income. The 401k would be entitled to $500 of that income each month. The remaining funds would be dispersed to other investors accordingly, even if the person investing is the only investor in the deal. In the latter case, the remaining 75% of rental income each month would flow back to him for use as he pleases.

    Other Types Of Down Payment Assistance

    For home buyers who are ineligible for no-down payment loans, there are a few more alternatives instead of using 401 funds:

    Down Payment Assistance programs offer eligible borrowers financial assistance in paying the required down payment and closing costs associated with purchasing a home. They come in the form of grants and second mortgages, are available nationwide, can be interest-free, and sometimes have lower rates than the initial mortgage loan.

    Certain mortgage lenders provide financial assistance by offering credits to cover all or some of the closing costs and down payment.

    Gifted money from friends or family members can be used to cover a down payment or closing costs on certain home loans.

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    Traditional 401 Penalty Exceptions

    A traditional 401 provides a tax deduction on contributions, and taxes withdrawals as ordinary income. Normally, early withdrawals are subject to a 10 percent penalty tax, but exceptions are available. Early withdrawals escape the penalty if they result from job separation after age 55, rollover into another retirement account, death, total disability, financial hardship, medical bills exceeding 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income or substantially equal regular payments based on your life expectancy. Even if you meet one of these exceptions, it’s important to keep in mind that if you withdraw money from your traditional 401 to purchase a home or for any other reason, that money will still be taxed as income.

    Do Mortgage Lenders Look At 401k

    Can I use my 401k to buy a house? Pros & Cons

    The mortgage lender will want to see complete documentation of the 401k loan including loan terms and the loan amount. The lender will also want proof the funds were transferred into one of your personal checking or savings accounts so that its readily available when you are ready to close the mortgage loan.

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    Pros And Cons Of Using A 401 To Buy A House

    Here are the pros and cons of using a 401 to buy a home, at a glance:

    Pros of Using a 401 to Buy a House Cons of Using a 401 to Buy a House
    Individuals may be able to purchase a home that they might otherwise not be able to afford. Individuals cant make regular contributions to their 401 while making loan payments.
    When using a 401 loan, individuals are borrowing money from themselves, so they dont owe interest to a bank or other institution. Borrowed or withdrawn funds arent growing inside the 401 account, potentially derailing an individuals retirement savings.
    Interest rates are generally low. If a person doesnt qualify for a hardship withdrawal and theyre under age 59½, withdrawals would be subject to income tax and a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
    You dont have to meet any credit requirements. If a person leaves their job before the loan is repaid, the balance owed could be deducted from the remainder of their 401 funds as an offset. For those under 59½, the amount of the offset would be considered a distribution and the borrower would owe taxes and a 10% penalty .

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