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2019 Guide to Down Payment Assistance in All 50 States

Down Payment AssistanceIt's enough to make you weep. Huge numbers of Americans who want to be homeowners are currently saving for a down payment. But they know little about lenders' down payment requirements. And too few have even heard of down payment assistance programs.

See today's mortgage rates for homebuyers

Renter to homeowner in a flash -- if you know about DPA

Yet down payment assistance (DPA) programs can be lifesavers. Because they can provide some or all the down payment and/or closing costs to buy a home. Sometimes, DPA is an outright grant you never have to repay. More commonly, it's some form of loan -- often one with low or even no interest.

In many cases, you only have to repay this loan when you sell the home. Or the provider might forgive the loan once you have lived in the home for a certain number of years. For instance, the Good Neighbor Next Door program from HUD drops its loan once you've lived in the home for three years.

Many could qualify, few apply

And there's a good chance you could qualify. In a 2018 update to report, Barriers to Accessing Homeownership, the Urban Institute reckoned between 22% and 51% of people in the metropolitan statistical areas it studied would be eligible. And these consumers could receive between $2,000 and $39,000 each.

When ignorance isn't bliss

Not knowing about these helpful programs forces aspiring homeowners to save much longer and much harder than necessary. While home prices rise faster than incomes, according to The Boston Globe. Buying sooner makes sense for another reason -- today's low mortgage rates won't stick around forever.

Yes, it's genuinely tragic. Because there are some 2,500 down payment assistance programs across the country just waiting to help wannabe homebuyers achieve their ambitions. And every community is covered by at least one.

Related: You Don't Need 20% Down to Buy a House

What would-be homeowners really, really need to know

At the end of 2017, the Urban Institute explored gaps in the knowledge of those who'd like to be homeowners. You're an optimist if you think things have changed much since then.

Here are some of the findings from a survey included in the report:

  • More than half (53%) of those currently renting said saving for a down payment is an obstacle to their homeownership
  • About 80% of respondents were either unaware of how much lenders require for a down payment or believed down payments must be above 5% of the purchase price
  • Some 15% think lenders require a 10% down payment
  • A whopping 30% percent believe lenders expect a 20% down payment

But they're flat-out wrong about those last two. Down payments of 3%-3.5% are commonplace. And those who are eligible for loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loans) or the Department of Agriculture (USDA loans) need no down payment at all.

And with DPA, buyers may need less than 3% and may get help with closing costs as well. You don't know unless you ask.

How down payment assistance works

It's worth noting that the agencies, charities and local governments that sponsor these programs fund them annually. That means they can be flush with cash at the start of each financial year but run out before the end. The federal government fiscal year runs from October 1 until September 30. So you have a better shot at that money in the fall than you do late summer.

But program fiscal years are not all the same, and not all budget annually. With thousands of down payment assistance programs nationwide, operating in virtually every community, you may have several choices. Nearly all programs are local and independent of each other. Many are run by state, city or local governments and others by not-for-profit organizations and charities.

Finding your programs

The sheer number or organizations and programs means there's no standard set of rules for how down payment assistance works. That makes them harder to find and understand. You may qualify under one program but not another. And you might get an outright grant (effectively a gift) from one but a low- or zero-interest loan from another.

This guide shows you what's available in your area as of this writing.

Approved lenders

When you accept down payment assistance, you'll borrow from a lender that participates in the program. And those approved lenders generally offer a wide range of mortgages, including ones backed by the government (VA, USDA or FHA loans) or that comply with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's rules.

So once you know what program you want, you may be able to shop among several lenders approved to fund a loan through your program.

Closing costs

Some assistance programs explicitly allow you to use the funds they provide for closing costs. Others may not.

Some programs require a minimum contribution from you when you use them to buy a home. That's because the lender and agency has less risk when the buyer has some of his or her own money tied up in the purchase.

Related: 8 Ways to Save on Closing Costs

How to qualify for down payment assistance

Eligibility criteria vary wildly between different programs. So, if you don't qualify for one that covers your area, it's worth hunting further to see if there's one that will help you.

Some programs specialize in helping select groups. So it's possible you may get to the front of the line if you're a veteran/current servicemember, or a firefighter, or work in education, health care or law enforcement. Many others prioritize applicants on average or lower incomes. But anyone with a mortgage preapproval letter can apply.

Many programs insist you take a homebuyer education course before they'll give you any money. You may be able to complete your course online. This is an important step, and understanding homeownership increases your chance of success.

One requirement for a majority of programs (but not nearly four in 10 of them) is that you be a first-time buyer. But don't panic ...

Related: How Does First-time Homebuyer Counseling or Education Work?

First-time buyer status is not like virginity

Once you lose your virginity, it's gone forever. But you can be a "first-time" buyer more than once.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) counts you as a first-time buyer if you haven't owned a home in the last three years. To be clear, HUD's website says:

"An individual who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase of the property. This includes a spouse (if either meets the above test, they are considered first-time homebuyers)."

There's no law to say everyone must adopt HUD's definition. But many programs do. So if you or your spouse haven't had an ownership interest in a primary home over the last three years, carry on and apply for programs for first-time buyers. Obviously, your spousal qualification will only work if you're buying the home jointly with him or her.

The home needs to qualify, too

When you apply to a program, the home you wish to purchase is also a factor. These programs are not for trust fund kids to buy mansions. The home you buy can't be expensive for the area. Usually, your maximum is some percentage of the median price for homes, often up to 115%.

For instance, if hoe prices ranged from $200,000 to $1,000,000 in your area (usually defined as your county or metropolitan statistical area), and half of the homes cost more than $400,000, and half cost less, the median price would be $400,000. If the limit was 115% of this, the maximum eligible home price would be $460,000 ($400,000 * 1.15).

Multifamily dwellings

Suppose you want to buy a multifamily building, containing two, three or four units. Many down payment assistance programs won't help. But at least one in five will.

You'll probably have to live in one of the units. Presumably, you'll want to rent out the other one, two or three. And that's no problem.

What's on offer where YOU want to buy: state by state

We've covered the main points about how down payment assistance works. And have explored how to qualify for down payment assistance. So now it's time to tell you about the main programs that operate in the state where you want to buy a home. And to tell you how you may be able to discover others.

For instance, this is Alabama Housing Finance Authority's (AFHA's) website, which itself offers down payment assistance. Clicking on the Affordable Housing Programs takes you to this page:

down payment assistance programs

Other sources

You can supplement this search by using an online tool on Down Payment Resource's website. However, be aware that you won't get worthwhile information upfront. You must part with a lot of your own personal identification information, including your household income, full name and email address. Some may hesitate to hand those over to a private company about which they know little.

There are more than 3,100 counties in America and many more cities and towns. And researching them all is impossible. So the information below is mostly state-based. That means you really do need to find other, more local programs yourself. Of course, you could always call your state's housing finance authority and charm a clerk into giving you a list.

Alabama

The AFHA's Step Up program offers 3% down payment assistance to those on salaries below $97,300. And, additionally, its Affordable Income Subsidy Grant can help with a grant of between $1,500 and $2,500 toward closing costs, depending on your income.

Also, check out the county- and city-specific programs listed on HUD's site (and in the screengrab above). In total, Alabama has 18 programs run by 11 agencies.

Alaska

Alaska has 17 programs delivered by six agencies. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation's Closing Cost Assistance Program offers up to 4% of the initial principal balance of the mortgage as help with a down payment and closing costs. This comes in the form of a 30- or 15-year loan with a low interest rate.

If you're an Alaska Native or Native American, you may find special programs run by regional housing authorities across the state. And, if you're not a member of those communities, other programs might help. For example, the Fairbanks Neighborhood Housing Services Home Opportunity Program offers down payment assistance program in its location.

Arizona

Arizona has 45 programs managed by 34 agencies. The Arizona Department of Housing's Pathway to Purchase offers up to 10% of the purchase price but only for existing (not new) homes in 26 selected ZIP codes across 12 cities. There are details on its website.

Arkansas

There are 11 programs run by four agencies in Arkansas. The ADFA Down Payment Assistance Program (DPA) can lend up to $10,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance. This takes the form of a 10-year second mortgage.

California

No state is better served than California when it comes to down payment assistance. There are 357 programs delivered by 231 agencies. So be prepared to spend a little time tracking down the one that suits you best.

The California Housing Finance Agency has the MyHome Assistance program, which can provide a loan of up to 3.5% of the home's purchase price. Educators and others employed in the schools system may get up to 4% under the agency's Schoolteacher and Employee Assistance Program.

Colorado

Colorado has 90 down payment assistance programs administered by 31 agencies. The Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation offers a second mortgage to those who are eligible. An important condition is that you must put in a minimum of $1,000 of your own money.

Connecticut

Connecticut has 35 programs delivered by 19 agencies. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority lets you borrow as a second mortgage up to 3.5% of the purchase price, with a minimum of $3,000. But you must put any savings you have above $10,000 into your down payment -- unless you're a qualified teacher or police officer.

Your local Department of Economic and Community Development office can steer you toward other programs, which may provide grants instead of loans.

Delaware

Delaware has 22 programs managed by seven agencies. The Delaware State Housing Authority's Preferred Plus program can provide a zero-interest second mortgage loan of 2%-5% of your overall loan amount.

Wilmington city and New Castle County each has its own down payment assistance program.

District of Columbia

The DC Department of Housing and Community Development's Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) provides interest-free loans and closing cost assistance. Its website says, "eligible applicants can receive a maximum of $80,000 in gap financing assistance and an additional $4,000 in closing cost assistance." Low-income borrowers needn't repay the loan until they move, refinance or take equity from the home. So there are no monthly payments.

Meanwhile, the DC Open Doors program, operated by the DC Housing Finance Agency, offers eligible homebuyers a zero-interest loan to cover all their down payment requirements. And, again, it only has to be repaid when you move or refinance so you don't make monthly payments.

Florida

With 276 programs provided by 118 agencies, Florida is well-served with down payment assistance. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation has a wizard (remember them?) on its website to help you determine your eligibility for its down payment assistance programs. These take the form of second mortgages that can cover some or all your down payment and closing costs needs.

Georgia

Georgia has 66 programs run by 28 agencies. The state government's Department of Community Affairs operates its Georgia Dream Homeownership Program. This provides down payment assistance in the form of a 0% second mortgage, which doesn't have to be repaid until you move or refinance. You'll need to put in $1,000 of your own money, which can include a documented gift you receive from a relative or friend.

Hawaii

Hawaii is relatively poorly served for down payment assistance programs. There are only seven managed by four agencies.

Hawaii 's maximum home values are often increased under many programs. There is assistance to native Hawaiians and other programs, which depend on the island/county you choose.

Idaho

Idaho is a rural state with a small population. So much of the state is considered eligible for USDA zero-down financing.

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association has two forms of down payment and closing costs assistance. One's a second mortgage, repayable over 10 years. The other's a forgivable grant. You don't have to make any payments, and after seven years, the agency forgives the "loan."

Illinois

IHDAccess offers 4% of the purchase price -- up to $6,000 -- in assistance for down payment and closing costs, which is forgiven monthly over a 10-year period. In other words, it can end up a gift that does not have to be repaid. you must meet some requirements. One is a minimum credit score of 640. There are eligibility criteria also, including household income and purchase price limits.

Illinois has 24 agencies and 48 programs offering a selection of deals to suit most buyers.

Indiana

The state of Indiana boasts 24 agencies, 41 down payment resource ownership programs are on offer. These include the Next Home Advantage with Subsidy program, which serves people who are not first-time buyers. A minimum of 640 credit score is required, but the assistance on offer is 3% of the appraised purchase value and is forgiven after two years.

First-time buyers, new-home buyers and vets can all take advantage of various DPA programs in Indiana.

Iowa

Iowa offers 24 programs across nine agencies, and depending on where you live in the state there is a good chance you'll find a suitable program. These range from the Firsthome Plus Grant, which can be up to 5% of the price of the home, and is only repayable at the time of sale or refinance, to the Homes for Iowans Plus Grant, which offers $2,500 to help with down payments and closing costs.

Kansas

Kansas residents see owning a home as a big part of the American dream. The Community Housing Program (CHP) helps Kansans buy, maintain and keep homes by arranging wholesale loans (advances). Rates are below market. The favorable pricing helps lenders extend long-term, fixed-rate credit for housing.

The state provides 15 programs run by nine agencies.

Kentucky

In Kentucky, families in the Housing Choice voucher (HCV) homeownership program get help buying a home. In addition, they may receive monthly assistance with homeownership expenses. To find out more about any of the 19 programs on offer, you can contact one of the 11 agencies in the state.

Louisiana

Louisiana offers 38 statewide and regional homeownership assistance programs under 16 agencies. The Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) offers several homeownership programs for eligible homebuyers. The various programs offer a variety of fixed-rate, 30-year loans, some of which are below market interest rates.

Maine

Maine homeownership assistance programs range include statewide, regional, city and town-sponsored offers. MaineHousing's First Home Loan Program includes Advantage Down Payment and Closing Cost assistance. It provides up to $3,500 toward the cash needed for closing. Buyers must attend homebuyer education class prior to closing, and contribute a minimum of 1% of the loan. However, the cost of the class counts toward the 1% contribution. There are currently nine programs available across three agencies.

Maryland

The State of Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development provides a wide range of programs and services that can help homebuyers create and maintain safe and comfortable homes for their families. The programs help cover down payments and closing costs, make important safety and code improvements, and help prevent foreclosure. To find out more about all of the programs available, visit the Maryland.gov website.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, most programs available to help low or moderate-income people purchase a home apply to first-time buyers. Salem, for example, offers a no-interest, deferred payment loan, to use toward the down payment and closing costs of a home. Repayment of the loan is due upon sale or transfer of the property.

However, Massachusetts has 85 programs across 61 agencies. One may be right for you even if you're not a first-timer..

Michigan

Michigan currently boasts 42 down payment resource homeownership programs available across 23 agencies. The MI Home Loan program is a mortgage for first-time buyers across the state, and repeat buyers in certain areas. It offers DPA of up to $7,500. Of course, household income limits are considered, depending on the family size and property location. The home price limit is $224,000.

Minnesota

Minnesota offers a wide range of homeownership programs (38) across 28 agencies statewide. For example, Deferred Payment Loans (only available to first-time buyers) offer up to $8,000. There is no interest to pay, and nor are there any monthly payments. The loan must be repaid when the homeowner either moves, sells, refinances or pays off the first mortgage.

There are similar or different programs for non-first-time buyers.

Mississippi

Among Mississippi DPA programs, the Mississippi Home Corporation's Smart Solution program offers help with down payments. To qualify, your household income can't exceed $95,000 p.a. and you'll need a credit score of 620 or better.

Missouri

Missouri offers a few DPA programs. Its Mortgage Credit Certificate program (MCC), provides eligible first-time homebuyers with a chance to reduce the amount of federal income tax owed each year they own and live in the property. This tax credit allows buyers to acquire better mortgage financing in a very competitive market.

Montana

Montana is known as "The Treasure State," but offers only 14 down payment assistance programs delivered by five agencies. HomeNow is one such program. If you qualify for a mortgage but don't actually have the cash for the down payment, the program can cover up to 100% of it. And it's not limited to first-time buyers.

Nebraska

In Nebraska, the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority offers various loan programs for homebuyers -- from military home programs to tax recapture schemes. The Homebuyer Assistance (HBA) program is available to potential homeowners who can find at least $1,000 of their own money toward the transaction.

There are currently four agencies across the state which offer a total of 14 programs to residents of the Cornhusker State.

Nevada

Nevada runs a generous Home Is Possible Program. Established in 2014, it offers up to 5% of the home loan value (subject to buyer's eligibility). Buyers can use the money for down payment or closing costs. Best of all, it is forgivable after three years, providing you remain in your home and don't sell or refinance during that time.

New Hampshire

Hew Hampshire housing programs include Home Flex Plus and Home Preferred Plus, which offer up to 3% of the loan amount for down payments and closing costs. Buyers get a second mortgage, which the program forgives in full after four years -- provided the owners don't sell or refinance during that period.

There are nine relevant programs available to Granite State residents, across three agencies.

New Jersey

New Jersey offers a wide variety of homeownership programs. There are 47 in total from 33 agencies throughout the state.

The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency lends interest-free up to $10,000 with no monthly payments. After five years, the loan goes away. As long as the borrower still lives in the home and hasn't sold or refinanced. Eligible borrowers need credit score of 620 or higher and cannot have owned a home within the previous three years.

New Mexico

One of the 16 homeownership programs available in New Mexico from one of its 10 agencies is NextHome. NextHome is available to first-time and non-first-time buyers. Its down payment assistance second mortgage loan is 3% of the first mortgage advance. NextHome forgives the loan after the borrower meets certain conditions.

New York

Known as the Empire State, New York has a varied and wide range of homeownership programs -- a total of 97 available from 64 agencies.

State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) is a source of down payment help. Eligible buyers can get a loan of up to 3% of the purchase price. With a 0% rate and no monthly payments. Providing the borrowers don't sell or refinance, SONYMA forgives the loan after 10 years.

North Carolina

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency's NC Home Advantage Mortgage offers DPA of up to 5% of the total mortgage amount. It's a loan that can help first-time and move-up buyers get into their ideal homes.

Meanwhile, the Center for Homeownership offers a pre-purchase analysis program that helps buyers avoid any problems that may arise in finding a mortgage. It also helps them determine their eligibility for down payment assistance programs.

North Carolina offers 64 assistance programs from 34 agencies.

North Dakota

One of the statewide programs offered in North Dakota is the North Dakota Roots program. Its purpose is providing affordable mortgage loans to moderate-income buyers. And even those who have previously owned a home can be eligible. Participants must supply at least $500 of their own money.

There are currently only seven programs available in the state, and there is one agency.

Ohio

Known as "The Buckeye State" because of the many buckeye trees that once covered Ohio's hills and plains, Ohio is host to 49 down payment homeownership programs across 28 agencies. Some programs are statewide and some are by town or city.

The city of Canton, for example, has a Down Payment Assistance Program that provides up to 50% of the required down payment on the property, and up to 100% in closing costs. These agency forgives these 0% loans after five years.

Oklahoma

The OHFA Homebuyer Downpayment Assistance program is available in all 77 counties in Oklahoma for homes priced below $283,349. It's a loan of up to 3.5% of the mortgage amount. Buyers must use the program with only 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. And they must be first-time buyers to be eligible.

There are currently 38 programs available in the state, and 25 agencies to chose from.

Oregon

Oregon offers 37 down payment resource homeownership programs through 29 agencies. These include a number of local programs with the Down Payment Assistance Programs for First Time Homebuyers initiative. Buyers who complete a homeownership education program can qualify for up to $15,000 toward down payment and closing costs. Available to low and very low-income families and individuals, the awards are funded by the state.

Pennsylvania

Known as "The Keystone State," Pennsylvania is home to 86 down payment homeownership programs and 46 agencies. The Keystone Advantage Assistance Loan Program is a second mortgage. It covers home purchase closing costs up to 4% of the final purchase price, or $6,000 -- whichever is less. Borrowers repay it monthly at 0% interest.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island offers 11 programs from five agencies. Which program works best depends on the buyer's income, status and assets.

One such program is Spring7500. which provides DPA to first-time buyers. Once signed up to the program, the homebuyer doesn't have to worry about paying back the 0% interest loan until the property is sold or refinanced, or the owner no longer occupies the house.

South Carolina

In South Carolina, households with less than 80% of the local median income can get$6,000 in cash assistance to buy a home. They pay no interest charge and make no monthly payments. The state forgives the loan after 10 years if the owner still lives in the home.

The Palmetto State has 33 programs across seventeen agencies.

South Dakota

South Dakota has 12 statewide and local assistance programs managed by five agencies.

The South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) has a down payment assistance program that offers up to 3% of the mortgage amount. It comes in the form of a 0% loan. Buyers make no monthly payments. They repay the loan when they sell or refinance the property.

Tennessee

In Tennessee, all homebuyers who qualify for a Great Choice Home Loan can also apply for down payment assistance. The Great Choice Plus second loan program finances up to 5% of the property's purchase price at 0% with no monthly payments. Approved buyers received an average of $7,144 in down payment assistance through this program in 2017. Borrowers repay the loan only when they sell, refinance or move out of the home.

There are 12 agencies in the Volunteer State, offering a total of 37 programs.

Texas

Texas offers 167 down payment programs that are managed by 84 agencies statewide. For example, the city of El Paso's First Time Homebuyer program lends money for closing costs and down payments at zero percent interest. Meanwhile, the city of Waco offers up to $25,000 no-interest loans to families that meet the necessary income criteria. Eligible buyers can purchase homes without having to save up a down payment or closing costs.

Utah

In Utah, there are 13 agencies across the state, offering a total of 29 programs.

Since 1990, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines (FHLB) has helped 28,000 families to purchase their homes by awarding over $123 million in down payment and closing cost assistance. The Home$tart Funding program is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and is subject to availability.

Vermont

Vermont, the Green Mountain State, is home to eight agencies offering 14 down payment programs. The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) for example offers down payment and closing cost assistance of up to $5,000. You can also reduce your federal tax liability and save up to $825 on the property transfer tax at closing.

Virginia

In Virginia, the Green Mountain State offers 47 relevant programs in 25 agencies. The HOMEownership Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance program (DPA) provides flexible gap financing for first-time homebuyers at or below 80 percent of the area median income. The DPA, which is available in only certain, specified areas, comes in the form of a grant. So it doesn't have to be repaid. And an income-eligible homebuyer can receive up to 10% or 20% of the sales price. There may also be up to $2,500 available to pay for the costs of closing.

Washington

The Washington State Housing Finance Commission offers varied down payment assistance programs to buyers who use its home loan programs. Eligible buyers need a credit score of at least 620. Their income cannot exceed a household of $145,000. Although the assistance varies from program to program, the average amount to a typical homebuyer is $10,000.

Washington State has a total of 64 programs being run by 27 agencies.

West Virginia

For many people in West Virginia, the cash down payment required to buy a home is a significant hurdle.

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund's down payment and closing cost assistance loans are available to lower this barrier by offering help homebuyers. These are 15-year, fixed-rate loans that currently have a 2% interest rate.

There are 13 programs available from six agencies.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin offers 48 programs, run by 26 agencies.

Homebuyers in the Badger State can take advantage of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority's (WHEDA's) Capital Access Down Payment Assistance program. It is specifically aimed at WHEDA Advantage customers to help them get into their home sooner It works on the basis of a second mortgage. But it has no monthly payments and a 0% APR. You pay back the money only when you move, sell or refinance.

Wyoming

Two agencies in Wyoming offer 12 down payment programs.

One example comes from the Wyoming Community Development Authority which offers Down Payment Assistance (DPA) products to help borrowers achieve homeownership. Each DPA loan has three basic features -- a $10,000 maximum loan amount, $1,500 minimum borrower contribution and a minimum credit score of 620. Repayment is due when you move, sell or refinance -- or after 30 years when you've finished paying down your first mortgage.

The link from every state name takes you to its HUD page, which includes links to programs for housing, homeownership and other topics.

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