Down Payment: You Need One, Start Saving

When 30-year-old Kimberly Palmer, and her husband, Sujay Dave, purchased a townhouse this year in a suburb of Washington, D.C., they may have seemed like typical first-time homebuyers. Young, educated and hard-working, the couple also had a newborn daughter, Kareena.

But they were different from most first-time homebuyers in a critical way. They were able to come up with a 20 percent down payment -- $143,000, to be exact -- to buy their dream home. And they amassed that down payment the old-fashioned way: through years of saving, sacrifice and smart financial decisions.