7 First-Time Home Buyer Programs


Hal M. Bundrick, CFPMay 7, 2018

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Buying a home is so hard, they should make it an Olympic event. It?s not just the paperwork; it?s the terminology, the fees and the number of people involved. It?s natural to want to agree to whatever, sign everything and just get through the process as fast as you can. But while that may make you a medalist in downhill skiing, it won?t earn you many style points in life?s uphill battle to financial well-being.

Here are some of the most useful first-time home buyer programs that you might overlook if you rush the process. They may score you some big savings.


This is the go-to program for many Americans, especially first-time home buyers and those who have a credit history that?s … let?s say shaky. The Federal Housing Administration guarantees a portion of home loans, which frees lenders to broaden their acceptance standards. With FHA backing, borrowers can qualify for loans with as little as 3.5% down.

FHA loans do have an up-front and ongoing additional cost built in: mortgage insurance premiums. This protects the lender?s stake in the loan if you default.

? MORE: Find the best FHA lender for you


This one may surprise you. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a home buyers assistance program. And no, you don?t have to live on a farm. The program targets rural areas and allows 100% financing by offering lenders mortgage guarantees. There income limitations, which vary by region.

? MORE: Find the best USDA lender for you

Good Neighbor Next Door

This initiative was originally called the Teacher Next Door Program but was expanded to include law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, hence the snappy ?Good Neighbor? name. A HUD-sponsored program, it allows 50% discounts on the list price of homes located in revitalization areas. Yes, half off. Who knew? You just have to commit to living in the property for at least 36 months. These homes are listed ? for just seven days ? on the Good Neighbor Next Door sales website.