5 Helpful First-time Homebuyer Programs

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity volunteers set a wall frame as they help build a home in Oakland, California. They were part of five-day blitz to frame 10 houses with hundreds of volunteers. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that builds and repairs homes throughout the world for families who can't obtain conventional financing. The homes are built using volunteer labor and donated materials and sold at no profit, which makes them quite affordable. Local Habitat affiliates take new-home applications and select the families using their own guidelines. In general, though, eligible families meet these criteria [source: Habitat for Humanity]:

  • Have a household income that's 30 to 50 percent of the median income in their area
  • Are citizens or legal residents
  • Receive regular paychecks that fall within minimum and maximum amounts, depending on household size
  • Have had a savings account for a while
  • Have good credit

Most families who are selected to receive a new home are required to make a $500 down payment, attend homeowner education classes and contribute 300 to 500 hours of work on their home or someone else's [source: Habitat for Humanity].

Clearly, it's more difficult to obtain your first home through Habitat for Humanity than by using one of the previously mentioned programs because the group can only build so many homes at a time and in any given locale. Still, if you meet the criteria and are willing to put in some sweat equity, it's definitely worth applying.