(TNS)—Buying a home for the first time can be daunting. In addition to mountains of paperwork and new financial terms to sort through, you’ll face costs and fees that can quickly add up.
In short, purchasing a home isn’t a financial step to take lightly. Perhaps that’s why 74 percent of millennials say that saving for a down payment still represents the most significant hurdle to achieving the American dream, according to a 2016 survey.
Fortunately, many grants and programs exist to help first-time homebuyers. Here are nine:
With this option, the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, insures the mortgage. The FHA is an agency that operates within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.
Since the FHA insures the loan, lenders receive a layer of protection and won’t experience a loss if you default on the mortgage.
FHA loans typically come with competitive interest rates, smaller down payment requirements and lower closing costs than conventional loans.
If you have a credit score of 580 or higher, you could be eligible for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent of the purchase price.
While not very well known, the homebuyer assistance program of U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, focuses on residences in certain rural areas—and no, you don’t need to purchase or run a farm to be eligible.
Through this setup, the USDA guarantees the loan. There may be no down payment required, and the loan payments are fixed.
Applicants with a credit score of 620 or higher typically receive streamlined processing, but there are income limitations, which can fluctuate based on region.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, helps service members, veterans and surviving spouses purchase homes. The VA guarantees part of the loan, which makes it possible for lenders to offer some special features.
VA loans offer competitive interest rates and require no down payment. You may not be required to pay for private mortgage insurance, and there isn’t a minimum credit score needed to be eligible.
If it becomes difficult at some point to make payments on the mortgage, the VA can negotiate with the lender on your behalf.
Good Neighbor Next Door
The Good Neighbor Next Door program is sponsored by HUD and focuses on providing housing aid for law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers.
Through this program, you could receive a discount of 50 percent off a home’s listed price in specific regions known as “revitalization areas.”
Using the HUDHomes website, you can search for properties that are available in your state. As part of the program, you’ll need to commit to living in the home for 36 months.
Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored entities [GSEs]. They work with local lenders to offer mortgage options that benefit low- and moderate-income families.
With the backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lenders can offer competitive interest rates and down payment amounts as low as 3 percent of the purchase price.
First-time homebuyers could also be eligible for home financing education programs with the HomePath Ready Buyer program through Fannie Mae.
Energy Efficient Mortgage
This type of loan’s purpose is to help you add improvements to your home that will make it more environmentally friendly. The federal government supports Energy Efficient Mortgage loans by insuring them through FHA or VA programs.
The key advantage to this grant is that it allows you to create an energy-efficient home without the need to make a larger down payment. The amount is rolled into your primary loan.
Some improvements you can make include installing double-paned windows, new insulation and a modern heating and cooling system.
Federal Housing Administration 203(k)
If you want to purchase a fixer-upper, the 203(k) rehabilitation program may be a solid fit.
This type of loan, backed by the FHA, takes into consideration the value of the residence after improvements have been made. It lets you borrow the funds you’ll need to carry out the project and includes them in your main mortgage.
Native American Direct Loan
Since 1992, the Native American Veteran Direct Loan program has helped Native American veterans and their spouses purchase homes on federal trust lands. The VA serves as the lender.
If you’re eligible, you won’t be required to make a down payment or pay for private mortgage insurance.
This first-time homebuyer grant also offers low closing costs and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
Local First-Time Homebuyer Grants and Programs
In addition to the grants and programs provided by the federal government, many states and cities offer help for first-time homebuyers.
Before purchasing a home, check your state or city’s website for information on housing aid available in your area.
You might also consider contacting a real estate agent or local HUD-approved housing counseling agency to learn more about grants and programs that could fit your situation.
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