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How to Find a First-Time Homebuyer Program

As you embark on your home buying journey, there are several parts of the process you may not have heard of before. That’s okay! This is when your loan officer will step in and be your guide to make the process more manageable and help you navigate your way through.

An initial part of the mortgage process that might give you some anxiety is the thought of your down payment. Making a sizeable down payment will set you up for long-term success by lowering your monthly payments and helping you qualify for certain loan programs, but don’t be discouraged if your budget can’t accommodate that right now. There are programs designed just for this situation! Some first-time homebuyer programs allow for your down payment to be as low as 3.5% of your loan amount.

In this post, we explore how first-time buyer programs can help alleviate the stresses and concerns that might prevent would-be homeowners from taking that leap into owning their own homes.

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It may seem silly to ask this question, but it’s actually a really good one. Of course, anyone buying their very first house is considered a “first-time buyer.” But, for several first-time buyer programs, someone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years also qualifies.

This could mean good news is you’re a “boomerang buyer,” having owned a home in the past but perhaps having gone through a short sale, foreclosure, or bankruptcy.


Many state housing authorities offer special loan programs targeted at solving the problems first-time buyers face. The benefits of these programs range from down payment assistance to closing costs grants to lower qualification thresholds.

The purpose of these programs is to help buyers who might not otherwise qualify for a mortgage and to 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 comes in the form of loans with low interest rates and generous terms, or sometimes in the form of grants that won’t need to be repaid. Some programs also allow for down payment loans to be forgiven if criteria are met.
  • Mortgage Tax Credits: These, also referred to as 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 program details and work with a loan officer familiar with these types of programs.


At First Heritage Mortgage, we love helping first-time buyers on their homeownership journey. As part of that 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.

Another more technical resource is the housing authority for the state you’re buying in. Since each state administers their own program, you can find complete details about each one on the state agencies’ websites.


You may be thinking that all of this information on first-time homebuyer programs sounds great, but that you need to determine if you can qualify to take advantage of one of these programs.

Here are some common guidelines established by state bond programs:

Click on a state to see the program details and eligibility requirements:

The best part about being a first-time homebuyer today is that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. You will have trusted partners to help guide you along your path, from your real estate agent to your loan officer.

Connect with one of our friendly, expert loan officers today. They will be happy to discuss these first-time homebuyer programs with you and help you find the best home loan option for your financial needs.

With a specialized approach to self employed borrowers, first time homebuyers, jumbo loans, VA loans Raleigh and FHA Loans Raleigh, The Sherry Riano Team is knowledgeable and advocates for any customer they partner with! Click HERE to check out the mortgage requirements.

Reach out to The Sherry Riano Team with any questions. The best mortgage lenders in Cary!