Park Home Down-Payment Savings in CDs?

By Dr. Don Taylor, Ph.D., CFA, CFP,

Dear Dr. Don,

Continue Reading Below

I'm saving up for a new home. I currently have $70,000 for the down payment, and I have been advised to put it in a certificate of deposit while I'm waiting to find a place to buy. The CD has a 90-day penalty for early withdrawal. Is this good advice? What would you suggest? And where can I find a list of good CDs? Should I divide my money into several CDs? It looks like the five-year CDs require a $100,000 investment.

Thanks for your advice!

-- Ellen Enliven

Dear Ellen, When would you like to buy that home? Are you looking to add to your down payment before pulling the trigger, or are you out looking at homes now?

More On This...

If you're looking at homes now, then you shouldn't be overly concerned with maximizing the yield on your down payment fund. You'll want to protect principal, and you can do that by holding the money in a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured or National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund-insured deposit with a bank or credit union. It doesn't make sense to buy a CD with a 90-day penalty if you're currently in the market for a home.

You can find five-year CDs on that aren't "jumbos" -- CDs that require a deposit of at least $100,000. You can find banks that will welcome your $70,000 in a five-year CD. In fact, using Bankrate's search function, I found a five-year CD yielding 1.85%. That's the same rate that was available for a jumbo CD.

I don't see a need to spread the money over different banks, or even different CD maturities, if the money is held as an insured deposit. You're better off focusing on finding that new home and getting into a low-rate mortgage than you are focusing on the yield on your down-payment fund.

Get more news, money-saving tips and expert advice by signing up for a free Bankrate newsletter.

Bankrate's content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this website, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this website is governed by Bankrate's Terms of Use.

Copyright 2013, Bankrate Inc.