• Michael Belfor

How to Qualify for First Time Home Buyer Programs


Want to know if you qualify for our first-time buyer programs? These programs are specifically designed to help first-time home buyers overcome some of the more common hurdles they may face when buying a home, such as saving up for down payments and closing costs. If you could use a bit of financial assistance to help you with the purchase of your first home, keep reading.


Here’s what you need to know about the first-time buyer programs available to you.


First-Time Buyer Programs offer Down Payment Assistance

One of the biggest roadblocks buyers come across when they want to purchase their first home is saving up a substantial amount of money for a down payment. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides funds and grants to help first-time home buyers who need a bit of financial assistance, in addition to insuring loans that require little or no down payment from first time buyers. Here are some of the options available for you if you want a first-time buyer program that offers assistance with your down payment.


Local Down Payment Assistance Options

Some states and local agencies will offer their own programs to help buyers get into their first home, and your mortgage loan advisor can help you understand the local programs available to you. Here are some examples of local programs available in some of the states American Pacific Mortgage services:


California

California’s GSFA Platinum Down Payment Assistance Program has a Forgivable loan up to 5% of the first loan amount for qualifying buyers to help with down payments and closing costs.


Also, GSFA offers a grant option to:


Peace Officers, Sheriff, Border Patrol Agents, Correctional Officers and others serving in a Law Enforcement capacity.


Firefighters, CalFire, paramedic, and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), including administrative staff that supports firefighters.


Current members of the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) or University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP), employees of a California accredited Private, Charter or Public School District or California State University, Junior College or Private College, including school administration and staff.


Because this program is offered to help moderate to low-income borrowers, there are income limitations that must be met to qualify.


GSFA Platinum Down Payment Assistance Program qualifying guidelines include:


Minimum credit score of 640

Not to exceed maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45%

Must occupy the home as primary residence

Not to exceed income limitations (vary by county)


Ask your mortgage loan advisor about the state and local down payment assistance programs available in your area. While you are discussing first-time buyer programs, you will also want to learn about mortgage loans for first-time buyers, as well.


Mortgage Loan Options for First-time Buyers

First-time homebuyers may want to consider choosing a loan program specifically designed to help get you into a home with a smaller down payment. Many first-time buyers are interested in loan options that allow them to purchase a home with 3.5% down, such as FHA or Fannie Mae loans.


FHA Loans

FHA loans help first-time buyers purchase homes by offering government insured loans with more lenient qualifying guidelines such as lower down payment requirements. If you qualify for an FHA loan, you may be able to put as little as 3.5% down*, as well as use gift funds to pay for the reduced down payment amount. To qualify for an FHA loan, borrowers will need to meet guidelines that may include a minimum credit score of 580, a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45%, and must occupy their home as their primary residence.


Fannie Mae Loans

Fannie Mae offers a program for first-time buyers and non-first time buyers who want to purchase with a 3% down payment*. Fannie Mae’s HomeReady mortgage program has expanded eligibility to help borrowers with income <80% of the AMI purchase a home. This loan program requires a minimum credit score of 620 and that the home be your primary residence. To qualify for a HomeReady mortgage, you will need to complete a homebuyer education course if you are a first time homebuyer.


Do I need to be a First-Time Buyer to Qualify?

Many first-time buyer programs require at least one borrower who is a “first-time buyer,” but that doesn’t mean you won’t be eligible if you have purchased a home before. The definition of “first-time buyer” generally means a borrower who has not owned a residential property within the past 3 years. So technically speaking, you could qualify for a first-time buyer program even if you have purchased a home before.


If you think a first-time buyer program may help you get into your first home, ask your mortgage loan advisor what options are available for you. Whether it is a home loan program with a low-down payment requirement or more lenient qualifying guidelines, or a junior loan or grant to help you pay for a down payment or closing costs, you may be surprised how many solutions are available to you as a first-time homeowner.


Since every loan program or down payment assistance program will have it’s own individual qualifying guidelines, your mortgage loan advisor can help you understand which program is a good fit for you.


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