Fewer buyers putting 20% because it takes so long to save

Even though they are more likely to get help with down payment

Fewer buyers putting 20% because it takes so long to save

A 20% down payment has long been a benchmark for homebuyers, but a new report shows that most buyers opt for lower percentages.

Zillow’s research found that 43% of buyers nationally put down 20% or more with the average buyer saving for more than 7 years to put down that size down payment on a typical-valued home.

However, in the most expensive markets, saving for a down payment is even more challenging. For example in San Francisco, it takes more than18 years to save the $193,440 needed for a 20% down payment – although more than half do so.

Atlanta and Phoenix had the smallest share of buyers putting down 20% (just over 30% of buyers did so) with those in Phoenix as likely to put down 5% or less and those in Atlanta more likely to do so.

Buyers in Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, DC, however, are at least as likely as the typical national buyer to put down at least 20%.

Where does the money come from?
Most buyers (70%) use savings for at least part of their down payment, while 39% used proceeds from a previous home sale.

Millennial buyers are the most likely to use multiple funding sources for their down payment –about half used a gift or loan from family or friends for at least a portion of their down payment, accounting for about one-fifth of the down payment on average. Other responses included investments and retirement funds.

"Saving up for a down payment can be tough and requires good budgeting and long-term planning, especially when for many of us the cost of rent and everyday life outpaces what we're able to put in the bank. Even if you don't have plans to buy a home in the next year or two, it never hurts to start setting aside savings for a future home purchase," said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. "There are many mortgage options that require less than 20% down, but buyers should be careful that they don't set themselves up to be underwater. Interest rates are rising, of course, but for many, waiting a bit longer and saving for a larger down payment might still be the way to go as they weigh their current stability and housing needs against their long-term futures."

Metropolitan Area

Median Home


Share of buyers
who put down 20
percent or more

Share of buyers
who put down 5
percent or less

United States





San Francisco, CA





Washington, D.C.





Chicago, IL





Atlanta, GA





Phoenix, AZ