Buying a home is expensive. The down payment plus closing costs can total thousands of dollars. While this may seem daunting at first, you can receive down payment assistance (DPA) through low-interest loans and grants.
Often, first-time homebuyers don’t know what programs they're eligible for. We explain how down payment assistance programs work and what you need to qualify.
Find your state below for information on available programs. Not all are restricted to first-time homebuyers. Some programs incentivize homeownership in targeted areas, even if you’ve bought a house before.
What is down payment assistance?
Down payment assistance is financial funding that helps cover the upfront costs of buying a house. You can put the money toward your down payment (and sometimes closing costs, but not always).
There are different types of DPA programs; homebuyer grants and silent second mortgages are the most common. With a silent second mortgage, repayment isn't due until after the first mortgage (so, most people end up repaying it when they sell or refinance their house).
A homebuyer grant isn’t a loan at all. There’s no interest rate associated with the funds since you never have to pay it back, and no lien is attached to your property. You can also find matched savings programs through banks, government agencies or community organizations that offer DPA.
Silent second mortgage
A type of a loan
Low or 0% interest rates
No lien against the property
Can be deferred or forgivable
No repayment required
How down payment assistance works
DPA-approved mortgages include popular loan programs for first-time buyers, including FHA and conventional mortgages. There’s no reason not to take advantage of a down payment assistance (DPA) program, especially if it means you finally get your slice of the American dream. But before you do, you should understand how these programs work.
Who can apply: Most DPA programs are designed for first-time homebuyers. However, some state programs accept applicants who haven’t owned a home within a certain time, often three to five years. The house usually has to be your primary residence.
To qualify, you may have to meet specific credit score requirements (typically around 620) and debt-to-income requirements (often less than 50%). Annual income limits can also apply (varies by location). Grant requirements almost always include completing a HUD-approved education program. You may also need your Social Security card.
What you can get: How much you can get through DPA varies greatly by ZIP code, but many offer up to 5% of the home’s sale price. In general, you can get more in areas with higher house prices (like Seattle or San Francisco). How long it takes to get funds also varies by location. Compare available programs by state and federal options below.
Paying it back: When DPA is awarded in the form of a grant, you don’t have to repay it at all. Other times, you can find DPA loans with 0% (or low) interest rates. These loans are typically deferred, “silent second” mortgages, meaning that you don’t have to pay the money back until after you pay off the first mortgage loan.
Depending on the program, down payment assistance loans might be forgivable after you live in the house for a specified period (typically five to 10 years).
All states have some kind of housing or finance agency. If you get DPA through your state’s housing finance agency, you must work with a lender approved by that agency. Most lenders offer some kind of DPA, but not all lenders have all types of programs available.
In addition to regional programs, cities and counties can offer DPA. You can also find programs through nonprofits and financing organizations. Most require you to complete a homebuyer education course to be eligible.
Find down payment assistance programs by state
It’s important to know that DPA programs come and go with available funding. For the most up-to-date program requirements, it’s best to contact your local housing authority directly.
The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) offers down payment program (DAP) loans from $3,000 to $20,000. According to the Housing Development Fund, you can also access local programs, depending on where you live. These include:
Several first home loan programs are available through the Maine State Housing Authority, including options for low or no down payment, Advantage DPA and closing cost assistance, Multi-Unit Advantage and financing for mobile homes.
General eligibility requirements include:
Must be a first-time homebuyer or veteran
Minimum 640 credit score
Household income limit requirements
Must be for a new or existing single-family home, owner-occupied apartment building, condo or permanently attached mobile home
The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority offers funds for down payments and closing costs through Home Flex Plus and Home Preferred Plus mortgages. You can get up to 4% of the loan amount in cash.
Cash assistance comes via a second mortgage that is forgiven after four years unless you trigger a repayment event (such as selling or refinancing). To be eligible, you must demonstrate creditworthiness and finish a homebuyer education class.
Additionally, the City of Portsmouth’s HomeTown program offers financial assistance to people who want to buy their first home there. To qualify, borrowers must meet income and eligibility requirements (based on household size).
In partnership with the City of Central Falls, Pawtucket Central Falls Development assists eligible first-time homebuyers in Central Falls.
Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) offers low-interest loans through participating lenders for low- and moderate-income buyers. Also known as the ASSIST program, the VHFA's DPA program has helped more than a thousand first-time homebuyers since it began in 2015.
In Burlington, down payment awards up to $10,000 are available with no interest and deferred payments.
The New York State Homeowners Assistance Fund has a down payment assistance loan (DAPL) program that is available in combination with any State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) loan. There’s no interest or monthly payments, and the loan can be forgiven after 10 years.
The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) provides $10,000 for qualified homebuyers to put toward their down payment and closing costs. Funds are provided through an interest-free second mortgage that’s forgivable after five years and requires no monthly payment.
The Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) offers down payment and closing cost assistance, plus the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. The loans work through conventional, VA, FHA and USDA mortgages.
Through DSHA’s Preferred Plus program, applicants can qualify for a no-interest second mortgage loan between 2% and 5% of the overall loan amount. You only have to pay it back when you sell, refinance or transfer the home, or if it's no longer your primary residence.
Flex loans: Thirty-year, fixed-rate loans combined with additional funds for down payment and closing costs. They are available in the form of a deferred loan or grant.
Partner match: Funds are provided through a no-interest, deferred loan. Partner match is only available with Maryland Mortgage Premier loan products.
Montgomery Homeownership Program VI: This program is available to eligible borrowers in Montgomery County.
HomeAbility: HomeAbility is designed to assist homebuyers who have disabilities.
Maryland SmartBuy: This program is available for eligible homebuyers with student debt.
In Baltimore, you can also take advantage of Live Baltimore loans and grants. Special programs are available for city employees, veterans and first-time buyers. There are also special programs available if you plan to purchase a previously vacant building.
Alabama Housing Finance Authority’s Step Up homeownership program is designed to help moderate-income buyers purchase a new or existing home. According to the AHFA, “down payment funds are secured by a 10-year second mortgage and combined with a 30-year fixed-rate first mortgage.”
For FHA and conventional loans, you can get up to $7,500. Loans are serviced through a division of AHFA, so you only have to make one payment each month.
DPA: The program offers between $1,000 and $10,000 for closing cost assistance. It’s available to qualifying applicants with an ADFA Move-Up first mortgage. The loan is a second mortgage that matches the first mortgage (10-year term).
ADDI: With ADDI, qualifying low-income Arkansans can get up to 10% of the home’s purchase price (up to $10,000). There’s no monthly payment, and it’s forgivable over five years. Assistance is provided through HOME funding by HUD.
The First Time Homebuyer (FTHB) Program through Florida Housing provides down payment assistance statewide. To be eligible, you must meet certain income and purchase price requirements, complete a homebuyer education course and have a qualifying FICO Score for a mortgage loan.
Florida’s State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) funds affordable housing programs offered by local governments, including DPA programs.
Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has three down payment loan options throughout the state. Eligible homebuyers may qualify for up to $7,500. DPA up to $10,000 is available for those who work in public protection, education and health care industries. You could also qualify if a member of your family is living with a disability.
Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) has two down payment assistance programs: Regular DAP and Affordable DAP. Both offer up to $6,000 and are repayable over a 10-year term, but the Affordable DAP has a lower interest rate.
Additional local homeownership assistance programs include:
Market Rate GNMA Program: The program offers assistance between 2% and 4% for 30-year, fixed-rate FHA, VA and USDA loans.
Market Rate Conventional Program: The amount of assistance is between 3% to 4% for conventional mortgages.
MRB Home and Assisted Programs: The amount of assistance for the MRB Assisted program is 4%; assistance for the MRB Home program ranges from 5% to 9%, depending on the loan amount. Funds can be used for down payments and closing costs.
Resilience Soft Second Program: The program offers up to $55,000 for down payments and up to $5,000 for closing costs. It’s not available in all parishes.
LHC Soft Second Program: The program provides assistance up to $30,000 for down payment and up to $5,000 closing costs. It’s not available in all parishes.
The Mississippi Home Corporation develops private and public partnerships throughout the state to increase awareness of the need for affordable housing.
According to MHC’s website, a new down payment assistance program, Home4All, is “coming soon.” It will provide pre-purchase education and payment assistance. A significant portion of the funding will serve households with members who have disabilities.
The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Community Partners Loan Pool (CPLP) provides funding for down payment assistance. Qualified borrowers can take advantage of the NC Home Advantage or the NC 1st Home Advantage mortgage programs.
When combined with an NCHFA Home Advantage Mortgage, down payment assistance is available for up to 20% of your home’s sale price, although there’s a $30,000 cap.
CPLP assistance comes as a zero-interest deferred second mortgage. There’s no monthly payment until the end of your first mortgage term unless you sell or refinance the house.
The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) offers down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers, repeat homebuyers and military or veteran homebuyers. You can choose from a deferred option (no payments) or the amortizing option (payments). Both require applicants to complete a pre-purchase homebuyer education class from a THDA-approved instructor.
The Housing Fund, an organization based in Nashville, also offers DPA throughout Tennessee.
The City of Memphis offers financial assistance through its Division of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Develop 901 is also available throughout Shelby County.
Virginia Housing’s Down Payment Assistance Grant is available to eligible first-time buyers throughout the state. The maximum award is up to 2.5% of the purchase price. It’s only available for eligible Virginia housing loans. Additional program requirements include:
Minimum credit score: 620 to 660 (varies by loan type)
Homeownership loans are 30-year terms with fixed rates, with loan amounts up to 100% of the purchase price. Down payment and closing cost assistance is available up to $7,500 or $10,000 for eligible borrowers, depending on the loan-to-value ratio. The Movin’ Up program is a 15-year fixed-rate loan, with DPA available up to $5,000 or $8,000.
The Homebuyer Assistance Program (HAP) is available through the Eastern Panhandle HOME Consortium of West Virginia, including the City of Martinsburg.
Additional assistance is available in Cook County through the Chicago Community Land Trust (CCLT). The trust publishes a list of lenders that are familiar with the program’s down payment and closing cost assistance process and protocols. (Please note, FHA and VA loan products can’t be used in conjunction with the program.)
In Moline, DPA can provide up to 50% of your required down payment. Choose Aurora is another local homebuyer assistance loan program. Additional resources include:
Minnesota Housing is a state-run housing finance agency. It provides help with housing and rent assistance. Check out the Minnesota Homeownership Center for statewide listings of HomeStretch workshops and HUD-approved counseling agencies.
Additionally, you can find DPA through these local or regional programs:
First Place loans can provide cash assistance to first-time buyers for down payment and closing costs. The Next Step Program enables nonfirst-time homebuyers who don’t have enough equity or savings to purchase a new house.
HOME-funded assistance program offers no-interest down payment loans up to $10,000 to eligible first-time homebuyers in St. Charles Urban County, including St. Charles, St. Peters, Cottleville, Weldon Spring, New Melle, St. Paul and Wentzville. You can find more DPA programs through:
Through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, you can get a 30-year fixed-rate conventional or government-backed mortgage with down payment assistance of 2.5% or 5% of the home's purchase price. The DPA loan is forgivable after seven years unless you sell or refinance.
Movin’ Out is a statewide program to help residents become homeowners. The Western Dairyland DPA is available in Eau Claire, Trempealeau, Jackson and Buffalo counties. The HOME Consortium DPA is available in Jefferson, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties.
The statewide KansasDPA program provides grants that cover up to 5% of the home’s cost. To qualify, you must have at least a 640 credit score and meet specific income limits for your county. The maximum purchase price is $548,250 in all counties.
The statewide Homebuyer Assistance Program (also called HBA) is available through the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA). This program includes a first and second mortgage. The maximum amount for down payment assistance is 5% of the home’s sale price, up to $10,000.
To qualify, you must:
Must be a first-time buyer
Earn less than the maximum household income limits (for location and household size)
Follow purchase price limits (up to $311,000 or $381,000 for a one-unit home)
Meet minimum credit score (640 or 660)
Meet maximum debt-to-income (DTI) requirements (45% or 50%)
Complete pre-purchase homebuyer education
The Northern Ponca Housing Authority, appointed by the Tribal Council in 1993, also offers down payment assistance to eligible applicants in Omaha, Bellevue, Lincoln, Norfolk, Battle Creek, Columbus and Niobrara, as well as parts of South Dakota and Iowa.
DCA: Low-income homebuyers can get loans that include down payment and closing cost assistance. Income limits vary by county and family size. It can’t be used in combination with another DPA program.
Start: This program provides affordable mortgage loans for low- to moderate-income homebuyers, including down payment and closing cost assistance. Funds come in the form of a credit toward your out-of-pocket requirement.
Resilient Homebuyer Program: Up to $60,000 in purchase assistance is available to Minot residents whose houses are being bought out for flood protection. Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development CDBG National Disaster Resilient Grant.
The South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) provides mortgage and down payment assistance, rental assistance and homelessness prevention throughout the state. The programs are funded through federal and state resources, housing bonds and tax credits.
Qualified buyers can get up to 5% in down payment and closing cost assistance. The loan includes a second mortgage with a 0% interest rate that’s due when the property is sold or you pay off the first home loan.
Montana Housing has two programs for down payment and closing cost assistance:
Bond Advantage: This program is available for up to 5% of the sales price ($12,500 cap). It requires a Montana Housing 30-year first mortgage. The minimum credit score is 620. You must attend homebuyer education programs.
MBOH Plus: This 0% deferred down payment assistance program is available for up to 5% of the sales price ($10,000 cap). To be eligible, you need a minimum 620 credit score and maximum debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of 43%. You also must contribute at least $1,000 of your own money, though these funds can be a gift.
Additionally, the HOME DPA program through NeighborWorks Montana provides loans between $2,500 and $25,000. In some cases, assistance is available up to $40,000.
The Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) offers down payment assistance loan products and other programs to help make getting a mortgage easier in the state. Through WCDA, you can get up to $10,000 for down payments and closing costs. It requires a minimum 620 credit score and at least a $1,500 borrower contribution (the funds can be a gift).
The Nevada Housing Division has a Home Is Possible (HIP) program that offers up to 5% of the mortgage value. There’s a one-time fee of $755 (paid at closing). It is available statewide to first-time buyers and nonfirst-time buyers.
An additional HIP for Teachers program is specifically designed for educators. Qualifying buyers can get up to $7,500 toward down payment and closing costs. The loan is forgivable after five years. The program is available through March 31, 2022.
The Nevada Rural Housing Authority has a Home At Last down payment assistance program that offers up to $25,000 with no interest or payments required. It’s available in all counties, including parts of Clark and Washoe. Enterprise, Sparks, Whitney and Winchester are considered rural as well.
The Southeast Texas Housing Finance Corporation (SETH) is available around Austin, Baytown, Brazoria, Chambers, Deer Park, Dickinson, LaMarque, La Porte, League City, Liberty, Galveston, Pasadena, Shoreacres, Santa Fe, Texas City, Tomball, Waller, Wharton and Matagorda.
Alaskans can find down payment assistance through the Affordable Housing Enhanced Loan program (AHELP). It’s designed for people who do not already own a residential property in Alaska. Eligible properties include single-family homes, condos, common-interest development units and some manufactured homes. Additional restrictions may apply.
You must meet income limits and obtain a homebuyer education certificate to qualify. Eligible properties include single-family and one-unit residences, condos and manufactured housing.
CalHFA Government Loans (FHA) are deferred-payment junior loans for up to 3.5% of the home’s value ($15,000 cap).
CalHFA Conventional Loans are deferred-payment junior loans for up to 3% of the home’s value ($15,000 cap).
Note that the $15,000 cap does not apply to borrowers using a VA, USDA and some FHA loans (Section 184, for example). It also doesn’t apply to California school or fire department employees.
Down payment loans up to $40,000 are available through the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Community Services. For income-eligible borrowers, there’s no interest or loan fees.
First-time homebuyers can also find a down payment assistance program through the County of Maui.
The Hawaii HomeOwnership Center is a nonprofit mortgage broker that helps low- to moderate-income families buy their first homes. Its down payment assistance loan (DPAL) program requires a 5% down payment.
The federal government offers a few down payment assistance programs. The Chenoa Fund, available through CBC Mortgage Agency, helps homeowners cover up to 3.5% of their down payments. Depending on your credit score and income, you can receive a grant, a forgivable second mortgage or a regular second mortgage.
Government loans often come with lower down payments than private mortgages.”
Fannie Mae allows three main sources of down payment and closing cost assistance: grants, gifts and a program called Community Seconds. Freddie Mac's Affordable Seconds is another available DPA program.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re having trouble saving for a down payment — there are resources that can help. Down payment assistance programs are a form of financial aid offered by nonprofits and federal, state and local governments that help homebuyers.
If you get a conventional loan, down payment assistance funds could save you a lot in mortgage insurance premiums over time. That’s a substantial amount of money that some homeowners struggle to save.
DPA can put homeownership within reach if you’re a first-time buyer, and some programs provide assistance even if you’ve previously purchased a home. Just remember that programs vary by state — you’ll need to investigate each program’s requirements to make sure you qualify for assistance.
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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “State Information.” Accessed Dec. 22, 2021.