State First-time Homebuyer Programs
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!
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- 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
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- 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
Your dream home is within reach. Now it's just a matter of finding and buying it. Here's a handy list of home-buying tips at HowStuffWorks.