Americans used to pride themselves on putting large down payments against their homes and watching their investment grow. Not anymore.

In a shift that could permanently transform the way mortgages are written, a rising number of homebuyers are making only small down payments - sometimes as little as 3% Simply put, many young families are turning to low down payments to make their dreams come true. With home prices rising faster than incomes, these people are unable to make traditional, 10% or 20% down payments. And, increasingly, they are unwilling to lower their standards for homes.

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