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Ten loan and program options for first-time homebuyers

First-time homebuyer programs and grants can assist you in realizing your dream of becoming a homeowner. We’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest national incentives, programs, and loans for first-time homebuyers that can help you get into your first house without putting down a 20% down.

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In 2022, there will be ten first-time homebuyer programs.

  1. FHA loan number
  2. USDA Loan
  3. Get a VA loan
  4. Next Door Neighbor Who Is a Good Person
  5. Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae
  6. Fannie Mae’s HomePath ReadyBuyer Program
  7. energy-efficient Mortgage (EEM)
  8. 203(k) loan from the Federal Housing Administration
  9. Grants and programs for first-time home buyers at the state and municipal levels
  10. Native American Direct Loan

1. FHA loan: This is the best option for purchasers with bad credit and a modest down payment.

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and demand a lower down payment and credit score than most conventional loans. With a minimum credit score of 580 and as little as 3.5 percent down, first time homebuyers can purchase a home or a credit score of 500 to 579 and at least 10% down. However, if your down payment is less than 20%, you will be required to pay FHA mortgage insurance, which includes a 1.75 percent upfront cost and yearly payments.

  • Strengths: Accepts credit scores as low as 500; cheap down payment option of 3.5 percent
  • Mortgage insurance is required, and the residence must fulfill FHA regulations.

2. USDA loan: Best for purchasers in suitable locations with low or moderate income.

The USDA, or United States Department of Agriculture, insures loans for select rural properties, and borrowers can obtain up to 100% financing (no down payment required). This does not need you to purchase a farm or live on a ranch, but it does require you to buy a house in a USDA-eligible region.

  • Advantages: Requires No down payment; credit score criteria may be lower (640 is typical)
  • Limitation to purchasers in specific locations; guarantee and yearly costs

3. Active-duty troops, veterans, and spouses are the best candidates for a VA loan.

Loans sponsored by the US Department of Veterans Affairs or VA are available to qualified US military members (active duty, veterans, and qualifying family members). VA loans are advantageous since they have lower interest rates than other loan kinds and do not demand a down payment. Borrowers will, however, be charged a financing fee, which can be rolled into your monthly loan payments. This cost may be waived for some military members as well.

  • Advantages: 100% financing; no mortgage insurance is required.
  • Weaknesses: There is a funding fee that is only available to honorably departed qualifying military people.

4. Good Neighbor Next Door: This is the best option for purchasers who work in the public sector.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors the Good Neighbor Next Door program, offering housing assistance to police enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers. Borrowers can receive 50% off a home in a “revitalization region” if they dwell in it for at least three years. On the program’s website, you may look for homes in your state.

  • Advantages: A 50% savings off the advertised price
  • Weaknesses: Only available to borrowers who work in specific public-sector jobs; restricted properties; longer-term commitment necessary

5. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are the best options for purchasers with good credit but need a lesser down payment.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), set borrowing restrictions for conventional loans they’re ready to acquire in the secondary mortgage market. These programs are economical for borrowers with an excellent credit score and a reduced down payment, as they need only a 3% minimum down payment.

  • Advantages: A down payment of 3% is required.
  • Weaknesses: Minimum credit score of 620; if putting down less than 20%, private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required.

6. Fannie Mae’s HomePath Ready Buyer: This program is designed for first-time buyers who require assistance with closing expenses.

Fannie Mae’s HomePath ReadyBuyer program is designed for first-time homebuyers who want to acquire a repossessed house (a “HomePath” home). Eligible borrowers can receive up to 3% in closing cost assistance toward purchasing a HomePath property, which is a foreclosed property owned by Fannie Mae, after completing a mandated online homebuyer education course.

  • Strengths: Affordability of house alternatives; minimal down payment need; aid with closing costs
  • Weaknesses include a limited selection of houses that may require renovations and the homebuyer class.

7. Energy-efficient mortgage (EEM): This is the best option for purchasers looking for an energy-efficient property.

Green improvements can be pricey, but you can receive an energy-efficient mortgage (EEM) to help pay for them (either a conventional loan or one backed by the FHA or VA). This form of mortgage allows you to add the cost of energy-efficient renovations to your principal loan without requiring a higher down payment (think new insulation, a more efficient HVAC system, or double-pane windows).

  • Strengths: No extra down payment or requalification is required to undertake energy-efficient changes upfront.
  • Weaknesses: Higher mortgage payments; must receive an energy evaluation and adhere to home loan upgrade criteria

8. FHA 203(k) loan: Ideal for house purchasers or investors looking for a fixer-upper.

An FHA 203(k) loan, which the Federal Housing Administration backs, can assist you in purchasing a fixer-upper. This loan form enables you to borrow cash for home renovation projects while consolidating the fees into a single loan. The upgrades must cost more than ,000, and you must put down a minimum of 3.5 percent. You’ll also want to engage with a contractor aware of 203(k) loans and the timelines associated with them.

  • Low down payment; single mortgage payment; opportunity to finance more costly additions
  • Weaknesses: Repairs are limited to $35,000; payment loans in the mortgage are higher.

9. First-time homebuyer programs and incentives at the state and local levels: Best for first-time buyers who need assistance with a down payment

Many governments and municipalities provide non-repayable first-time homebuyer incentives and low-interest mortgage programs. To learn more about first-time homebuyer loans in your region, visit your state’s housing finance authority website or contact a real estate agent or a local HUD-approved housing counseling service.

Advantages: Assistance with down payment and closing costs; lower-interest mortgages

Weaknesses include income restrictions and the requirement of a buyer education course.

Grants and initiatives for first-time homebuyers in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas

10. Native American Direct Loan: This is the best loan for Native Americans who have served in the military.

The Native American Direct Loan (NADL) assists qualifying Native American veterans and their wives in purchasing, improving, or constructing a house on federal trust land. UNLIKE REGULAR VA LOANS, the VA is the mortgage lender in this transaction.

  • Advantages: No down payment is required; no mortgage insurance is required, and closing expenses are modest.
  • Eligibility criteria; financing cost are both flaws.

What are the advantages of programs for first-time homebuyers?

First-time home buyer programs, scholarships, and loans provide financial support to purchasers who satisfy specific income requirements and have excellent credit ratings. They may apply to persons who have never owned a property or those who have previously owned a home but haven’t owned one in the last three years.

These programs can help you in a variety of ways, as follows:

Grants: Some places may give you money for home-related expenses like a down payment or closing costs.

Closing fee assistance: Some loans have a cap on the number of closing expenses that may be charged.

Deferred payments: Some loans don’t charge interest and aren’t due until the homeowner sells the house, refinances, or pays off the mortgage.

Payments savings: Some organizations offer to pay or subsidize mortgage interest or assist borrowers in qualifying for loans with a cheaper interest rate.

Homeowners who stay in their house for a particular amount of time will have a portion of their debt erased (although you could still be liable from tax credits).

Some programs allow homeowners to put down as little as a 5% down payment or none at all.

Some of these services may not be available in your region or for your particular situation. There are certain limitations, such as financial necessity, so do your homework or chat with a mortgage specialist to determine whether you qualify.

What to think about when it comes to first-time homebuyer programs

Make sure you fulfill the definition of a first-time homeowner before looking for a first-time homebuyer program. Many charity and government programs consider you a first-time purchaser if you haven’t purchased a house in the past three years. Whether or not they are considered their primary residence, investors who own rental or investment homes are included in this category.

Before qualifying for specific government-backed programs, such as an FHA or USDA loan, the property must fulfill particular criteria. Local and state programs could have income limitations as well.

Regardless of the programs, you may be eligible for, buying a house is a significant financial investment that should not be handled lightly. That is to say, consider what you can afford, including maintenance fees. After establishing a reasonable budget, consult with a lender who has expertise working with first-time homeowners. It’s possible that this isn’t your bank but rather a credit union or another form of lender.

“Lenders that are familiar with first-time homebuyer programs in your region and know what you can qualify for might save you thousands of dollars in the long run,” says Diego Corzo of Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas.

For first-time homeowners, the best mortgage lenders include

There are many mortgage lenders to choose from, but you might want to deal with a broker who can help you sort through your alternatives as a first-time purchaser. Here are a few of the most reputable lenders to think about:

1. Truist

Truist is one of the largest banks in the United States, except for Alaska, Arizona, and Hawaii. Its lending options include FHA, VA, and USDA low-down-payment mortgages, 3-percent conventional loans, and a lower-PMI loan in return for a higher rate.


Sun West Mortgage Company operates, a brick-and-mortar and online mortgage lender serving clients in 48 states and Puerto Rico. can be a feasible alternative for many new purchasers, with quick closing times and a range of loans, including VA and USDA possibilities.

3. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union specializes in VA loans and is available to military service personnel and qualifying family members. It offers a limited range of other lending options, but you might receive a very reasonable mortgage rate if you bank there if you are eligible.

The procedure for purchasing a property for the first time

Step 1: Establish a budget (and stick to it)

You don’t want to end up with a property you can’t afford, so be honest with your real estate agent and your mortgage lender. Calculate how much you’ll be able to afford each month, considering maintenance costs and allowing for unforeseen expenses. Consider what would happen if one of your income streams disappeared, either by choice or due to a layoff or other unanticipated circumstances, if you’re purchasing with a partner or spouse and each has an income.

Step 2: Contact at least three lenders for quotations.

One of the most critical tasks in obtaining a mortgage is to shop around. Compare all of the conditions offered by each lender, including the APR (annual percentage rate), fees, and other closing charges. 

Step 3: Obtain a loan preapproval.

Before looking for a property, I moved for a mortgage with the lens.  Pre-approval informs vendors that you’re serious about buying and allows you to shop confidently within a set budget. To pre-approve you for a loan, a lender will probe into all elements of your financial life. 

Step 4: Locate a reputable real estate agent.

Working with a real estate agent familiar with the region you want to buy in will benefit your home search. You want an agent who can assist you in finding the ideal house, negotiating the greatest deal, and referring you to other specialists for any projects you may have once you move in.

Step 5: Go home shopping

Make sure your realtor understands what you’re looking for, and do your homework on the properties you’ll be seeing and the community. It’s a good idea to visit the neighborhood you’ll be moving to at different times of day, on weekdays and weekends, and speak with neighbors — and never buy a property without seeing it first. Check flood, earthquake, and fire hazard maps as well.

Step 6: Propose.

Discuss a realistic offer with your real estate agent, and be prepared for some back-and-forth with the seller. Because the home market is so competitive these days, you’ll undoubtedly have to haggle with other potential purchasers. Nonetheless, it’s critical not to go overboard with your spending. It’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you at this point. Be prepared to walk away from home no matter how much you love it if the finances don’t work out.

Step 7: Arrange closing fees for negotiation.

Any real estate transaction entails closing expenses, which they pay in various ways. It will fold into your loan (which tends to be more expensive in the long run), or the seller could spend part of your expenses. Don’t overlook this portion of the process; you might be able to get waived fees and decrease total prices by negotiating.

Step 8: Engage the services of a house inspector.

When you find a property you like and make an offer on it, have it appropriately examined. You want to check that your new home doesn’t have any structural difficulties or anything else that might make it challenging. A home inspection often takes a few hours and ranges in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the size of the home. However, the expense is well worth it; skipping this step would be a mistake.

Step 9: Purchase homeowner’s insurance and finish your move-in arrangements.

The mortgage lender will almost always need homeowners insurance to protect your investment. Get estimates from various firms or deal with an insurance broker who can shop prices for you, much as you did with your mortgage. You’ll also need flood insurance if your house is in a federal flood zone. Make sure the policy is binding and in force on the closing date. Contact information for your local utility, cable, and internet providers to schedule a new service for your move-in date as you prepare for move-in day. Don’t overlook the most crucial tasks: finding a competent mover and packing your belongings.

Step 10: Complete the transaction at the closing table.

Just before closing, you’ll need to receive updated pay stubs and other financial documents to show that your job situation hasn’t changed and that you’ll be able to make your mortgage payments. You’ll typically undertake a final tour of the property within 24 hours of closing to ensure that any necessary repairs have been done. You’ll sign documents to settle the financing and transfer ownership of the house from the seller to you at the closing table. You must also provide a cashier’s cheque payable to the escrow business. Also, don’t forget to bring your photo ID. They will give you the keys to your new house after signing the closing paperwork, and you’ll be a first-time homeowner.


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Jason Rathman