Colorado First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2021

By NerdWallet 
Edited by Beth Buczynski

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It’s tough to be a first-time home buyer in Colorado these days. With home prices soaring and houses selling quickly, it may feel like your dream of becoming a homeowner is out of reach.

But as a Colorado first-time home buyer, you may have more options than you think. State and national loan programs can make homeownership accessible and affordable, if you know where to find them.

Learn more about first-time home buyer programs available nationwide and from the Colorado Housing and Finance Agency, or CHFA, and how they can benefit you.

National first-time home buyer programs

These national loan programs, which aren’t restricted to first-time home buyers, make it possible to get a mortgage with low credit scores or a limited down payment.

Conventional mortgage

Best for:

Low down payments, limited mortgage insurance premiums

What you need to know:

A conventional mortgage is a home loan that isn’t guaranteed or insured by the federal government. Conventional mortgages that conform to the requirements set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow down payments as low as 3% for first-time buyers or lower-income home buyers. Unlike FHA loans, conventional loans allow borrowers to eventually cancel their mortgage insurance or avoid mortgage insurance altogether if they put at least 20% down.

VA loans

Best for:

Military, low down payments

What you need to know:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans and surviving spouses buy homes. VA loans are especially generous, providing competitive interest rates, often requiring no down payment or mortgage insurance. Although there is no official minimum credit score, most VA-approved lenders require scores of at least 640.

FHA loans

Best for:

Low credit score, low down payments

What you need to know:

This is the go-to program for many first-time home buyers with lower credit scores. The Federal Housing Administration allows down payments as low as 3.5% for those with credit scores of 580 or higher. The FHA will insure loans for borrowers with scores as low as 500 but requires a 10% down payment for a score that low. Mortgage insurance is required for the life of an FHA loan and cannot be canceled.

USDA loans

Best for:

Low down payments, rural

What you need to know:

A USDA home loan is a zero-down-payment mortgage for eligible rural and suburban home buyers. USDA loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program. There are income limitations, which vary by region. Applicants with credit scores of 640 or higher receive streamlined processing. Those with scores below that must meet more stringent underwriting standards.

CHFA first-time home buyer loan programs

Using a network of participating mortgage lenders across the state, CHFA offers purchase loans, as well as down payment and closing cost assistance.

Program availability and eligibility requirements vary; contact a CHFA participating lender to learn more about which programs could suit your situation.

CHFA highlights and eligibility requirements


  • Down payment and closing cost assistance for home purchases.

  • Home buyer education offered in English and Spanish.


  • Have a 620 minimum credit score.

  • Complete an in-person or online CHFA home buyer education course.

  • Meet income limits, which vary by location and household size.

  • Make a minimum financial contribution of at least $1,000.

  • Meet the qualification requirements of a CHFA participating lender.

CHFA mortgage programs

Best for:

Low down payment, government-backed loans

What you need to know:

CHFA encourages responsible, affordable homeownership by offering programs for first-time home buyers. CHFA's loan programs include conventional loans, USDA loans, VA loans and FHA loans. Eligible borrowers can combine CHFA mortgages with down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

CHFA down payment assistance grant

Best for:

Down payment assistance, closing cost assistance

What you need to know:

With this program, you can get up to 3% of your CHFA 30-year mortgage amount for a down payment grant — repayment isn’t required.

CHFA down payment second mortgage loan

Best for:

Down payment assistance, closing cost assistance

What you need to know:

This program provides up to 4% of your CHFA mortgage amount for a down payment. The second mortgage needs to be repaid, but not until you sell, refinance or completely pay off the first mortgage.

Your next step

Looking for help buying a home in Colorado? Start by finding a CHFA participating lender to determine your eligibility and apply.

You may also want to assess your credit, figure out how much house you can afford and enroll in a Colorado first-time home buyer education class. CHFA makes these available for free in-person or online for a fee, and taking a class will help you make home buying decisions with confidence, no matter which loan option you choose.

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