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The Home Stretch

If you're looking for cash to buy a house, your retirement account could open the door.

By Scott Bernard Nelson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One thing that didn't change with the Fed's shift oninterest rates this summer is the variety of mortgage options forfirst-time home buyers. The days when you needed a 20 percent downpayment and borrowed the rest from the bank down the street arelong gone. Mortgage writers offer a number of nontraditionalarrangements these days, customizable by type of loan, number ofloans and down payment variations. The catch: Most require at leastsome down payment or the ability to pay closing costs, or both. Ifall your money is tied up in a business or in other investments,you might be left on the outside looking in.

Enter old reliable, the Individual Retirement Account (IRA).First-time home buyers are allowed to borrow $10,000apiece-$20,000 per couple-from their IRAs to pay for ahouse down payment or closing costs. Similarly, if you just need abridge loan until other money gets freed up, you're allowed towithdraw cash from an IRA for up to 60 days penalty-free. As longas the money is back in your account by the 60th day, the IRSpretends nothing happened. If you need quick money for the closingdate but can replace it within two months, this is analternative.

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