Going through the home buying journey for the first time is sure to be both an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time for you. You will likely have many questions and decisions to consider, from the type of property you choose to purchase to how you will finance your new home. As you contemplate what might be your most significant financial decision thus far, you are well within reason to do as much research as possible to be fully confident in the decision that you end up making.

The financing part specifically is what most first-time homebuyers worry about. Luckily, there are solutions tailored just for you: first-time homebuyer programs. Some states want to incentivize people to move there by providing financing programs offering perks like a low down payment or a tax credit. Other loan programs or grant options are funded specifically to help individuals and families achieve homeownership.

Our guide to first-time buyer programs here explores some of the first-time homebuyer programs available in 2024 and will help you understand how you may be able to qualify for them.

Who is Considered a First-Time Homebuyer?

It may feel like there is an obvious answer to this question. Clearly, anyone who has never bought a house before is considered a “first-time buyer.” But, there may be other ways to qualify for these programs that you may not have considered.

The Maryland Mortgage Program, for example, only requires that one borrower is a first-time homebuyer to qualify. Couples with one partner who has never owned a house can use their combined purchasing power with a lower down payment than previously required.

There are also scenarios in which you could have previously owned a house and still qualify. For certain first-time buyer programs, someone who has not owned a home in the past three years also qualifies. This is excellent news if you have previously owned a home but may have gone through bankruptcy or foreclosure, or moved to a new area where you rented while searching for a permanent place to live.

What are First-Time Homebuyer Programs?

Many state housing authorities offer special loan programs to solve first-time buyers’ problems. Some states provide additional first-time homebuyer programs at the county level, too. The benefits of these programs range from down payment assistance to closing costs grants to lower qualification thresholds.

These programs aim to help buyers who might not otherwise qualify for a mortgage and ensure affordable housing for those who need it.

These are two common types of first-time buyer assistance:

  • Down Payment and Closing Costs Assistance: These often come in the form of loans with low interest rates and generous terms or sometimes in the form of grants that won’t require repayment in the future. Some programs also forgive the down payment loans when you meet specific criteria.
  • Mortgage Tax Credits: These, also called Mortgage Credit Certificates, reduce your tax liability and lower the amount you owe on your federal income taxes*.

Each program is specific to a state or region, so it’s best to look at the details and work with a loan officer familiar with these programs.

Where do I Find Information about First-Time Homebuyer Programs?

As part of our commitment to be a resource as you navigate the mortgage process, we have detailed information about the state bond financing programs for all of the states in which we operate.

Below, you can find the first-time homebuyer program websites for those states. Click on a state for more details about the program and eligibility requirements:

Do I Qualify?

It is important to remember that these programs carry their own qualification guidelines. Before getting too excited after reading about a program’s benefits, make sure you read about their qualifications.

Here are some common guidelines established by state bond programs:

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer
  • Must purchase a home in the specific state or region
  • Minimum credit scores (usually in the 600 range)
  • Meet certain income guidelines
  • Stay within certain purchase price limits
  • Complete a homebuyer education course

If you do not currently meet the qualifications for the program you are interested in, your loan officer can help you develop a plan so that you may qualify in the future.

We encourage you to explore any first-time homebuyer program further with an FHM loan officer who specializes in these programs. They can help you determine if you qualify and help you navigate through the criteria.

Get Started Today

Here at First Heritage Mortgage, we believe in educating our clients to help them make the best decisions every step of the way. When working with a First Heritage Mortgage loan officer, you know you are never alone.

If you are ready to embark on your first homebuying journey, get started with one of our expert loan officers today. You can rely on their guidance and expertise every step of the way.

This post contains links to other websites that are not hosted nor controlled by FHM. FHM is not responsible for their content, or the content of any information linked to these websites. Links to other websites are provided as a convenience to our visitors and do not imply any endorsement by FHM of information contained in these websites or the organizations that support them.

The included content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as professional advice. Additional terms and conditions apply. Not all applicants will qualify. Consult with a finance professional for tax advice or a mortgage professional to address your mortgage questions or concerns. This is an advertisement. Prepared 03/15/2024.

*Information is not considered tax advice.  Please consult your accountant for information