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Average Down Payments Shrink in Q1 2014

Average down payments for mortgages are on the decline, lending a little bit of relief for affordability-challenged homebuyers around the country.

According to a report released this week by LendingTree, down payment percentages for 30-year fixed-rate purchase loans fell in the first quarter to an average of 15.78 percent, down from just higher than 16 percent in the last quarter of 2013.

At the same time, the company found average credit scores for borrowers matched with lenders on its own network have dropped 6 percent year-over-year, opening up the credit pool a little more.

“As the housing market improves and refinance activity declines, lenders are adapting their guidelines to improve credit accessibility for borrowers,” said LendingTree founder and CEO Doug Lebda. “Relaxed lending guidelines translates to a larger pool of qualified homebuyers that could boost the housing recovery.”

Out of the top 10 states offering the lowest down payment percentages to borrowers, North Dakota reigned with an average percentage of 12.31 percent. At the bottom of that top 10 range was Idaho with 13.81 percent; most of the list fell below the 13 percent mark.

At the far end of the spectrum, New Jersey took the top spot for the highest average down payment at 19.36 percent, followed by New York, California, Connecticut, and Hawaii.

Of course, some of the states with the lowest down payment percentages also happen to be the states with the lowest borrower health scores, as measured by LendingTree—while the opposite is true for those with higher percentages.

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