Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Trying to buy a house with little or no money down? Forget about it. At least for a while.

New mortgage-industry standards have made purchasing a home tougher for buyers who don't have enough money for down payments. The key change has been made by the companies that provide private mortgage insurance, which is essential to securing many mortgages.

The upshot is that most buyers will have to put at least 3 percent down to obtain a loan. A Columbus Dispatch analysis of 211 mortgages made in Franklin County in the last week of February showed that 58 percent of borrowers made a down payment of less than 3 percent, with the vast majority borrowing the full purchase price.

A quarter made a down payment between 3 percent and 19 percent. Those seeking a mortgage who put down less than 20 percent generally must get insurance. Nine percent of buyers financed their home purchase with two mortgages, essentially taking out a loan to cover the down payment.

The snapshot of home sales shows that despite the mortgage crisis, borrowers still are signing mortgages without making significant down payments.

That leaves them with little or no equity in their houses. At the same time, the federal government has flagged many neighborhoods across the country as "declining markets," which means buyers will have to pony up more money to secure private mortgage insurance.

The new mortgage-insurance regulations, a reaction to the high number of foreclosures caused by subprime loans, are likely to make it even more difficult to sell a house in central Ohio.

"Certainly, it's going to take some buyers out," said Tom Stoll, senior vice president of consumer lending for Fifth Third Bank. "If it's a difference of 5 percent more from their own equity it's going to change the opportunity."