In the quote below (taken from here), what does "cash down payment" mean?

Indeed, a few weeks before they left the White House, the Clintons were able to muster a cash down payment of $855,000 and secure a $1.995 million mortgage. This hardly fits the common meaning of "dead broke. We rated the claim Mostly False.


Normally I'd just suggest you looked it up in a dictionary, however there is an interesting wrinkle here:

Wiktionary: Down payment

A payment representing a fraction of the price of something being purchased, made to secure the right to continue making payments towards that purchase.

However, the use of "cash" is interesting. "Cash" here doesn't necessarily mean literally cash, as in Bill and Hillary dragging in large bags of money. Cash here means liquid, fully funded assets, as opposed to credit or in kind. So a check, money order, or CD would all count as cash, whereas a secured loan, or a piece of property at a particular valuation, would not.

The point is that the Clintons had access to considerably amounts of liquid assets to buy the house, which belies the suggestion that they were "broke."

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  • Quite right - in context, "cash" can mean "immediately payment of liquid currency" - so, actually executed by perhaps bank transfer, cheque, wire transfer etc. In other circumstances it can literally mean "paper folding money". – Fattie Oct 28 '14 at 8:47

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