What Is A 401 Loan
A 401 loan is a loan you take out from your own 401 account. They work like normal loansyou pay origination fees and interestonly youre borrowing money from yourself. According to Vanguard, 78% of 401 plans permit participants to take out 401 loans, and about 13% of plan participants have an outstanding 401 loan.
If you need money, you might consider taking a loan from your 401 if:
You want a lower interest rate. 401 loans still charge interest. But the amount you pay may be less than on a loan you take out with someone else. 401 loan interest rates are based on the prime rate, an interest rate adapted from Federal Reserve loaning guidelines. 401 loans will normally be a percentage point or two above this rate, which may be lower than the rate you could get at a bank.
Youd prefer to pay interest to yourself. No one likes paying banks and credit card companies interest. While youre still on the hook for interest payments with a 401 loan, you get to pay it back to yourself instead of someone else.
You want looser credit requirements. If your credit score prevents you from getting the best rates on loans, you may opt for a 401 loan. Depending on your employer, you may not even need a credit check to borrow from your 401.
You might want to avoid a 401 loan if:
Retirement Savings Can Benefit
As you make loan repayments to your 401 account, they usually are allocated back into your portfolio’s investments. You will repay the account a bit more than you borrowed from it, and the difference is called “interest.” The loan produces no impact on your retirement if any lost investment earnings match the “interest” paid ini.e., earnings opportunities are offset dollar-for-dollar by interest payments.
If the interest paid exceeds any lost investment earnings, taking a 401 loan can actually increase your retirement savings progress. Keep in mind, however, that this will proportionally reduce your personal savings.
Two Ways To Use A 401 To Buy A House
Taking a 401 distribution
The first method you can use to borrow money from a 401k for a down payment is to withdraw money or take a distribution without intending to pay it back. Unfortunately, this method of using retirement funds to buy a house can have some expensive tax consequences.
While withdrawing from a 401 is always considered a taxable event, depending on your age, theres a good chance that youll be taxed on the same money twice. To start, all 401 distributions are taxed as ordinary income. However, if youre under the age of 59 ½, your withdrawal will be considered an early distribution and youll have to pay an additional 10% early withdrawal tax.
Using a 401 loan
Instead of withdrawing from a 401 for a house, it might be a better idea to use a 401 loan for your home purchase. As the name suggests, you have to pay back a 401 home loan eventually, but as long as you follow the rules, the money you borrow is not taxable. That fact alone can make it a more affordable option than taking a 401 withdrawal for a home purchase.
First, you have to pay attention to how much you can borrow. While not all 401 plans allow for loans, if yours does, youre allowed to borrow up to 50% of your vested account balance or a maximum of $50,000, whichever is less.
Recommended Reading: Can You Merge 401k Accounts
How Long Do You Have To Repay A 401 Loan
You generally have up to five years to repay your 401 loan, and you must make at least quarterly repayments. You may be able to get longer loans under special circumstances, like when you use a 401 loan for your primary residence. Your employer may set different terms for any of the above, so make sure to check with your plan administrator before you withdraw money from your 401.
Regardless of the requirements of your plan and company, you may choose to make more frequent repayments or to borrow money for a shorter amount of time. Paying off a 401 early minimizes the opportunity cost of having money not compound in your retirement accounts. It also helps protect you from the consequences of not repaying a 401 loan if you suddenly lose your job.
Remember: Your company determines when you must repay your 401 loan by if youre no longer employed. While your company may allow repayment up until you file taxes for the current year, you must repay your loan by then. Otherwise, you may owe taxes or an early withdrawal penalty on the amount you borrowed.
Does A 401 Loan Or Withdrawal Make More Sense
When you consider the potential tax consequences associated with an early withdrawal, a 401 loan may seem more attractive. Of course, there’s one drawback with both options: you’re diminishing your retirement savings.
With a 401 loan, you’d have the ability to replace that money over time. If you’re cashing out an old 401, however, there’s no way to put that money back. In both cases, you’re missing out on the power of compound interest to grow your retirement wealth over time.
One upside of deciding to borrow from a 401 for a housewhether you take a loan or make a withdrawalis that it may allow you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance if you offer the lender a large enough down payment. Private mortgage insurance protects the lender, and it’s typically required if you’re putting less than 20% down on a conventional mortgage. Private mortgage insurance can be eliminated when you reach 20% equity in the home, but it can add to the cost of homeownership in the early years of your mortgage.
Read Also: How To Check How Much Is In Your 401k
Should You Invest Your 401k In Real Estate How
Do you want to get into the real estate investing boom but donât have the liquid cash to start? If so, youâre most likely considering the many financing options available to beginner real estate investors. One of the most common financing options is mortgage loans, but this is not the ideal option for everyone as there are requirements that can limit some investors. If you canât get a mortgage, consider other options for buying an investment property before giving up! For example, did you know that you can invest your 401k in real estate? Whether you want to buy a house for personal use or for rental income, read this to learn how your 401k can be a funding source to invest in real estate.
Related: Real Estate Investment Financing: 7 Ways That Work for Beginners
How To Use 401k To Buy A House
If you dont have the entire amount or youre short on cash for a down payment, you might be wondering if you can use 401k to buy house if your dream home comes on the market. The answer to your question is yes, youre allowed to use funds from your 401k for a home purchase.
However, there is an opportunity cost in doing so the funds you take from your 401K retirement account cannot be replenished as quickly as you may imagine. You can start thinking about using retirement funds to buy a house, either by taking a loan or withdrawing money from the account. Keep in mind that not all providers allow the option of a 401k loan for down payment. If they dont allow a 401k loan or if you need more than what is allowed, you will be obligated to go with an outright 401k withdrawal for a home purchase.
Read Also: How Do I Transfer My 401k To A Roth Ira
Should You Borrow From Your 401 To Make A Home Down Payment
by Christy Bieber | Updated July 19, 2021 – First published on June 17, 2021
Many or all of the products here are from our partners. We may earn a commission from offers on this page. Its how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts opinions arent influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
You may regret making the choice to raid your retirement funds.
When you’re trying to buy a home, it’s best to make a 20% down payment. Doing so allows you to avoid having to buy private mortgage insurance . PMI ensures lenders don’t end up with out-of-pocket losses if they have to foreclose. Unfortunately you cover the expenses of PMI, although it provides you with no personal protection.
A 20% down payment is also useful because it:
- Makes it easier to get approved for a home loan
- Allows you to borrow less
- Saves you money on interest over time
- Makes it less likely you’ll end up owing more than your home is worth
Unfortunately, coming up with 20% down can be difficult for many home buyers. And, in fact, even finding the money for a smaller down payment can be a challenge if you’re in an expensive market.
If you decide now is a good time to buy a home but struggle to come up with the cash to make a down payment, you may be tempted to borrow against your 401. After all, if you have a lot of money sitting in this account, it may seem like an attractive source of funds that could solve your down payment issues.
A Quick Review Of The 401 Rules
A 401 account is earmarked to save for retirementthat’s why account holders get the tax breaks. In return for giving a deduction on the money contributed to the plan and for letting that money grow tax-free, the government severely limits account holders’ access to the funds.
Not until you turn 59½ are you supposed to withdraw fundsor age 55, if you’ve left or lost your job. If neither is the case, and you do take money out, you incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty on the sum withdrawn. To add insult to injury, account holders also owe regular income tax on the amount .
Still, it is your money, and you’ve got a right to it. If you want to use the funds to buy a house, you have two options: borrow from your 401 or withdraw the money from your 401.
Read Also: How To Do A 401k Rollover
How Much Of My 401k Can I Borrow To Buy A House
In general, you can only borrow from 401k to buy home up to 50%, or $50,000, whichever is less. Some plans may even offer an exception if your balance is less than $10,000, allowing you to withdraw the entire amount. On the other hand, withdrawing from 401k for house is unlimited, assuming your plan will enable you to do so. Your first step should be to contact your employer before making any offers on a home, assuming you can take from your 401K.
You want to keep more of your money than spend it at least most people do! Thats why Richr gives 2% back to home buyers, so they dont have to risk their 401K or quickly replenish it with the funds received. Building wealth for tomorrow starts with the choices you make today.
Get Your Questions Answered Here
Our independent agents shop around to find you the best coverage.
You’ve found your dream home and are now wondering, “Should I borrow from my 401 to buy a house?” You can use a 401 for payment towards a new home, but before you do, it’s crucial to take a look at the disadvantages that come with it. However, there are advantages as well.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you can take such a risk, but you should make sure you’re covered with a home insurance policy. The following tips and bits of advice can help you answer this common home buying question.
Recommended Reading: How To Invest Money From 401k
How Much Can I Borrow From My 401k To Buy A House
Just so, is it a good idea to use 401k to buy a house?
Earnings in Your Roth IRA up to $10,000 for the Purchase of a First Home: No income tax due, will not owe 10% penalty. Large 401k Loan : Will not owe income tax or penalty. Monthly payments can be large and substantially affect mortgage qualification.
Also Know, how much can you withdraw from your 401k as a first time home buyer? The IRS allows for a $10,000 withdrawal per person under the age of 59½ to avoid the 10% penalty under specific circumstances however, they will be required to pay income tax on the amount withdrawn.
Moreover, can I withdraw money from my 401k to buy a house?
You can use 401 funds to buy a home, either by taking a loan from the account or by withdrawing money from the account. A 401 loan is limited in size and must be repaid , but it does not incur income taxes or tax penalties.
How can I borrow from my 401k without penalty?
Here’s how to avoid 401 fees and penalties:
Benefits Of Using A 401 Loan To Make A Home Down Payment
There are some definite advantages to accessing 401 funds to cover the down payment costs for a home purchase.
- You’ll be paying interest to yourself. That means you won’t be making a creditor richer as you would if you used a second mortgage or took out a larger home loan to cover your down payment costs.
- Loan approval is easy. Provided you have the money in your 401, you should be able to borrow against it regardless of your credit or other financial credentials — as long as your workplace plan allows loans.
- You can usually access the money quickly and easily. It’s often a matter of filling out a few simple forms and you can get the money very quickly, although the exact timeframe will depend on your plan.
- You may be able to get a better deal on your mortgage. Making a larger down payment, made possible by a 401 loan, can allow you to borrow from a wider choice of mortgage lenders. It might also potentially help you qualify for a better interest rate and avoid PMI.
Recommended Reading: How To Start My Own 401k
Eligibility For A Hardship Withdrawal
The Internal Revenue Service ‘s immediate and heavy financial need stipulation for a hardship withdrawal applies not only to the employee’s situation. Such a withdrawal can also be made to accommodate the need of a spouse, dependent, or beneficiary.
Immediate and heavy expenses include the following:
- Certain medical expenses
- Home-buying expenses for a principal residence
- Up to 12 months worth of tuition and fees
- Expenses to prevent being foreclosed on or evicted
- Burial or funeral expenses
- Certain expenses to repair casualty losses to a principal residence
You wont qualify for a hardship withdrawal if you have other assets that you could draw on to meet the need or insurance that will cover the need. However, you needn’t necessarily have taken a loan from your plan before you can file for a hardship withdrawal. That requirement was eliminated in the reforms, which were part of the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in 2018.
The $2-trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus bill signed into law on March 27, 2020, allows those affected by the coronavirus situation a hardship distribution to $100,000 without the 10% penalty those younger than 59½ normally owe account owners have three years to pay the tax owed on withdrawals, instead of owing it in the current year.
When A 401 Loan Makes Sense
When you mustfind the cash for a serious short-term liquidity need, a loan from your 401 plan probably is one of the first places you should look. Let’s define short-term as being roughly a year or less. Let’s define “serious liquidity need” as a serious one-time demand for funds or a lump-sum cash payment.
Kathryn B. Hauer, MBA, CFP®, a financial planner with Wilson David Investment Advisors and author of Financial Advice for Blue Collar America put it this way: “Lets face it, in the real world, sometimes people need money. Borrowing from your 401 can be financially smarter than taking out a cripplingly high-interest title loan, pawn, or payday loanor even a more reasonable personal loan. It will cost you less in the long run.”
Why is your 401 an attractive source for short-term loans? Because it can be the quickest, simplest, lowest-cost way to get the cash you need. Receiving a loan from your 401 is not a taxable event unless the loan limits and repayment rules are violated, and it has no impact on your .
Assuming you pay back a short-term loan on schedule, it usually will have little effect on your retirement savings progress. In fact, in some cases, it can even have a positive impact. Let’s dig a little deeper to explain why.
You May Like: Can I Use My 401k To Purchase A Home
Be Careful Using 401 For A Down Payment
The biggest challenge most buyers face when purchasing a home? Coming up with that big down payment. Even if your mortgage lender only requires a down payment of 5 percent, that still comes out to $10,000 for a modestly priced home of $200,000. Many buyers simply don’t have that much cash lying around.
If you have a 401 plan at work, though, you might have a convenient source for down payment funds. You are allowed to borrow money from this retirement account for a down payment. You just have to pay back your loan — with interest — on time to avoid any penalties or taxes.
But does doing this make financial sense? That depends upon how badly you want the home, how close you are to retirement and how certain you are that you can pay back the loan on time.
Heather McRae, senior loan officer with Chicago Financial Services in Chicago, said that a 401 loan has helped several of her clients gather the funds they need for down payments. She considers it a smart financial move for borrowers who know they can handle the payback schedule.
“If you don’t have the money for a down payment and you don’t have family members who are kind enough to gift you the down payment, you’re kind of out of luck,” McRae said. “The 401 loan is often the best option for these buyers. If you haven’t saved the money for a down payment and you’ve fallen in love with a property, the 401 can make the purchase work.”