The Best First Time Home Buyer Programs You Haven’t Heard Of!

Hey there, future homeowners! Jamaal Dickerson here, your friendly neighborhood realtor. If you’re over 25 and thinking about taking the plunge into homeownership, this article is for you. Today, we’re diving into some fantastic first time home buyer programs that can help you get into your first home with little to no down payment. Whether you’re single, married, or starting a family, there’s something here for everyone. So, let’s get started on making your dream of owning a home a reality!

Why Homeownership?

Owning a home is more than just having a place to live; it’s an investment in your future. It’s about creating a space that’s truly yours, building equity, and having the freedom to decorate and modify as you please. Trust me, there’s nothing like the feeling of walking into your own home after a long day.

My First Time Home Buyer Experience

Let me share a little personal story. When I bought my first home, I was nervous and excited all at once. I remember standing in my empty living room, thinking about all the possibilities. It was a modest place, but it was mine. And the best part? I didn’t have to worry about a massive down payment, thanks to one of the first time home buyer programs I’m about to share with you.

Low and No Down Payment Mortgages

Let’s kick things off with some basic but powerful mortgage options. These are the bread and butter of getting you into that first home.

HomeReady Program

First up, we have the HomeReady Program from Fannie Mae. This gem lets you put just 3% down with reduced mortgage insurance costs. If your household income is at or below the median, you’re golden. Plus, almost all credit scores are welcome. This program is designed to help first time home buyer and those who might not have a large down payment saved up.

Why I Recommend It: One of my clients, a young couple just starting out, managed to buy a lovely two-bedroom home using the HomeReady Program. They had been renting for years, thinking homeownership was out of reach. But with just a 3% down payment, they were able to make their dream come true. If they can do it, so can you!

Home Possible Program

Next, we have Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Program. It’s like HomeReady’s twin, but with a twist. You’ll need a slightly higher credit score, but it’s perfect for multi-generational households. So, if you’re buying a home with 2-4 units, this one’s for you.

Why I Recommend It: I had a client who bought a duplex using this program. She lived in one unit and rented out the other, which helped cover her mortgage payments. It was a smart move that provided her with financial stability and a great investment.

First Time Home Buyer Government-Backed Options

Now, let’s talk about some first time home buyer government-backed options. These loans are like having Uncle Sam co-sign for you.

FHA Loan

The FHA loan is a classic. With as little as 3.5% down and a credit score of 580 or higher, you’re good to go. And don’t worry if your credit score is a bit lower – the FHA has exceptions. Just keep in mind, FHA loans might come with higher mortgage insurance rates.

Why I Recommend It: This program helped a single mother of two purchase a home in a good school district. Despite her lower credit score, she qualified and now enjoys the security of owning her own home.


Living outside the city? The USDA loan is for you. 100% financing with no money down, as long as you’re in a “rural” area, according to the Census Bureau’s definition. This can include suburbs and small towns, so check it out!

Why I Recommend It: A family I worked with bought a home in a charming small town using a USDA loan. They were thrilled to find out they qualified for 100% financing, which allowed them to focus on other moving expenses without the stress of a down payment.

VA Loan

Big shoutout to all veterans! The VA loan is hands down one of the best. No money down, low interest rates, and available for any eligible veteran or active-duty military member. If you’ve served, this should be your first stop.

Why I Recommend It: I helped a retired Navy officer purchase his dream home with a VA loan. The process was smooth, and the benefits were unbeatable. He didn’t need a down payment, and his monthly payments were more affordable than he ever expected.

Special Mortgage Programs

Now, let’s spice things up with some special programs that make buying a home even more affordable.

National Homebuyers Fund

First, the National Homebuyers Fund offers up to 5% of your home’s purchase price as a cash grant. The catch? You need to live in your home for at least five years. If you’re ready to commit, this one’s a no-brainer.

Why I Recommend It: I had a client who used this fund to cover her down payment and closing costs. She’s now happily settled in her new home and appreciates the financial breathing room this grant provided.

Forgivable Mortgages

Ever heard of forgivable mortgages? These are second mortgages that get forgiven if you stay on plan. No payments, no stress – just stay in your home for a few years, and poof, the debt disappears.

Why I Recommend It: A young couple I worked with used a forgivable mortgage to buy their first home. They didn’t have to worry about repaying the second mortgage, as long as they stayed in the home for the required period. It was a huge relief for them financially.

Doctor Loans

For all the doctors and medical professionals out there, Doctor Loans are tailor-made for you. No down payment and lots of perks from retail banks looking to earn your business.

Why I Recommend It: I helped a young doctor fresh out of residency secure a home loan with zero down payment. With her hefty student loans, this program was a lifesaver, allowing her to focus on her career without the added stress of a large down payment.

Good Neighbor Next Door

Teachers, firefighters, law enforcement – listen up! The Good Neighbor Next Door program offers homes at 50% off with as little as $100 down. The catch? The homes are HUD repos, so you might need to roll up your sleeves and do a bit of work.

Why I Recommend It: A teacher I know used this program to buy a home in her school district. She got an amazing deal and enjoyed the community support that came with living close to her workplace.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

Let’s not forget about down payment assistance programs. These bad boys are all about getting you the cash you need to seal the deal.

Local Down Payment Assistance Programs

Local down payment assistance programs vary by state and city. They can be hard to find, but they offer great benefits like interest rate reductions and closing cost credits. Check out HUD’s website for a list.

Why I Recommend It: I had a client who found a local program that offered significant closing cost credits. It made the process much more affordable and stress-free.

National Down Payment Assistance

National programs are easier to find and just as effective. Look out for cash grants that can help with your down payment or closing costs.

Why I Recommend It: A young couple I worked with used a national assistance program to secure a grant for their down payment. It was a huge relief for them, allowing them to move into their home without draining their savings.

Proposed Programs

Now, let’s peek into the future with some proposed programs that could change the game.

$15,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

The $15,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit is still in the works, but if passed, it could give you a serious boost. Stay tuned for updates!

Why I Recommend It: This proposed credit could significantly lower your out-of-pocket costs when buying a home. It’s something to keep an eye on as it could make a big difference in your home buying budget.


The DASH Act also includes a $15,000 tax credit, aiming to make homeownership more accessible. It’s got bipartisan support, so fingers crossed!

Why I Recommend It: If passed, this act could provide additional financial support, making it easier for more people to afford their first home.

$25,000 Down Payment Toward Equity Act

First-generation home buyers, this one’s for you. The Down Payment Toward Equity Act offers up to $25,000 for anything from your down payment to closing costs. If you’re the first in your family to buy a home, this could be a game-changer.

Why I Recommend It: I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it can be for first-generation buyers to save for a down payment. This proposed act could provide the necessary financial assistance to help break the cycle of renting.


Last but not least, the HELPER Act. This proposed bill exempts eligible teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers from FHA loan down payments and mortgage insurance. It’s gaining momentum, so keep an eye out.

Why I Recommend It: This could be a fantastic opportunity for those who serve our communities to afford homes with fewer financial barriers.


Alright, folks, those are the first time home buyer programs you need to know about in 2024. Whether you’re looking for low down payment options, or government-backed loans. 



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