5 Helpful First-time Homebuyer Programs


State First-time Homebuyer Programs

Most states have programs to help first-time homebuyers. LuminaStock/iStock/Thinkstock
Most states have programs to help first-time homebuyers. LuminaStock/iStock/Thinkstock

Most, if not all, states have some type of first-time homebuyer program. You can find out what's available in your area by contacting your local government housing office. Typically, potential homeowners must meet various criteria regarding income levels and credit ratings. Down payment assistance may be available as well; sometimes first-time homebuyers don't even have to repay the amount.

While all programs differ, here are the basics of Ohio's first-time homebuyer program as an example:

  • Applicants must meet Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) income limits, have a credit score of at least 640, have a signed purchase and sales agreement for a qualifying property and qualify for the loan being requested.
  • Properties must meet purchase price limits, which vary by county.
  • Applicants must also fall into at least one of these four categories:
  • Never owned real estate
  • Active serviceperson or veteran
  • Purchasing a home in one of OHFA's target areas
  • Never owned or had an ownership interest in their principal residence in last three years

If you qualify, there's no specific loan you'd get, as with the FHA, VA or Department of Agriculture loans. But in general you'd receive a loan with better rates, lower fees and more flexible payment plans than if you approached a lender independently [source: Ohio Housing Finance Agency].

Author's Note: 5 Helpful First-time Homebuyer Programs

When my husband and I were planning our wedding in 1986, we spent a few weeks looking for an apartment -- our first home together! But our excitement soon faded when we found nothing but mediocre places sporting high rents. My husband suggested switching gears and checking out FHA loans. I thought he was crazy. What young newlyweds can afford to buy a home? Turns out we could. Thank you, FHA!

Related Articles


  • American Dream Down Payment Assistance. "Down Payment Assistance - Grant That Is Never Repaid By The Homebuyer!" (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.americandreamdownpaymentassistance.com/down_payment_grant.php
  • Bell, Claes. "11 must-do's for the first-time homebuyer." Bankrate. Feb. 12, 2013. (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/7-must-do-s-for-the-first-time-homebuyer.aspx
  • Brennan, Morgan. "How To Buy Your First Home." Forbes. Jan. 26, 2011. (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.forbes.com/2011/01/25/first-time-home-buyer-mortgage-personal-finance.html
  • Callis, Robert and Kresin, Melissa. "U.S. Census Bureau News." U.S. Census Bureau. July 29, 2014. (Oct. 24, 2014) http://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/files/currenthvspress.pdf
  • da Costa, Polyana. "Saving by comparing FHA to PMI." Bankrate. (Oct. 28, 2014) http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/save-by-comparing-fha-to-pmi-2.aspx
  • Glaeser, Edward. "Rethinking the Federal Bias Toward Homeownership." Harvard University. 2011. (Oct. 29, 2014) http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/8052149/Glaeser-RethinkingFederal.pdf
  • Habitat for Humanity. "Habitat for Humanity frequently asked questions." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.habitat.org/how/FAQ.aspx
  • Habitat for Humanity. "How to apply for a Habitat for Humanity house." (Oct. 24, 2014) http://www.habitat.org/getinv/apply.aspx
  • Habitat for Humanity. "Myths (and facts) about Habitat for Humanity." (Oct. 24, 2014) http://www.habitat.org/how/myths.aspx
  • Military. "First-Time Homebuyers & the Advantages of VA Loans." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.military.com/money/va-loans/first-time-homebuyers-and-advantages-of-va-loans.html
  • Mortgage Bankers Association. "Special Programs for Homebuyers." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.homeloanlearningcenter.com/consumerhelpdesk/specialprogramsforhomebuyers.htm
  • Nebraska Investment Finance Authority. "Loans for First-Time Homebuyers." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://nifa.org/programs/index.html?topic=desc&ovr_ov=-over&search_var=prog&prog_name_sent=Single+Family
  • Ohio Housing Finance Agency. "First-Time Homebuyer Program." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.ohiohome.org/homebuyer/first_time.aspx
  • United States Department of Agriculture. "Single Family Housing Loans and Grants." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/hsf_sfh.html
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "About Good Neighbor Next Door." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/reo/goodn/gnndabot
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "FHA Mortgage Limits." (Oct. 23, 2014) https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/hicostlook.cfm
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Let FHA Loans Help You." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/buying/loans
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)." (Oct. 24, 2014) http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/fhahistory
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Home Loans." (Oct. 21, 2014) http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/
  • Williams, Geoff. "Renting vs. Buying a Home: Which Is Smarter?" U.S. News & World Report. Dec. 13, 2013. (Oct. 24, 2014) http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/12/13/renting-vs-buying-a-home-which-is-smarter


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