Georgia First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2021

Georgia First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2018

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In the Peach State, first-time home buyers — considered to be buyers who haven’t owned a home in three years — can look to the Georgia Dream Home Ownership Program for help finding mortgage financing. The home loan rates and fees are set by the Georgia Dream program.

National first-time home buyer programs

Wherever you live in the 50 states, these loan programs make homebuying more affordable, helping first-time home buyers overcome obstacles like limited income, low credit score or lack of a 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.

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Georgia Dream program highlights and eligibility requirements

A wide range of mortgage options exist for first-time home buyers through the Georgia Dream program, including 30-year fixed-rate Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loans with low down payment requirements, or conventional home loans with a 20% down payment. There are several ways to qualify for down payment assistance.


  • Affordable mortgage rates.

  • Prepared borrowers usually close in about 60 days.

  • Most first-time home buyers receive down payment assistance.


  • 640 minimum credit score.

  • Buyers must invest at least $1,000.

  • Home buyer education required.

Georgia first-time home buyer programs

Georgia Standard Down Payment Assistance

Best for:

Down payment assistance

What you need to know:

All borrowers eligible for a Georgia Dream mortgage may qualify for $5,000 in down payment assistance. It’s possible to receive $7,500 if you are eligible for either the PEN or Choice programs. If you receive funds from any of the down payment assistance programs below, you’ll need to repay the entire assistance amount when you no longer use the home as your principal residence or if you sell, refinance or transfer ownership of the property.

Georgia PEN

Best for:

Health care professions, educators, first responders, military

What you need to know:

Home buyers who work as public protectors, educators and health care providers, or who are active military service members and National Guard will receive $7,500. You’re eligible if you are:

  • an employee of a police, sheriff’s, highway patrol, probation, correctional or fire department, including EMS and volunteer firefighters

  • an employee of a state-recognized local, city or county school, including colleges and private schools

  • an employee of a state-licensed health facility — for example, a hospital, health department, doctors’ or dentists’ office or nursing home

The assistance is offered as a no-interest loan. You won’t need to make payments, but the money must be repaid when you sell the home or refinance the mortgage.

Georgia Choice

Best for:

People with disabilities

What you need to know:

If you are disabled or have a disabled family member living with you, you may qualify for $7,500 in down payment assistance through the Choice program.

Summary: 2021 Georgia Dream first-time home buyer programs

  • Georgia Standard Down Payment Assistance provides all eligible borrowers with $5,000 in assistance.

  • Georgia PEN offers $7,500 in assistance to first responders, military, educators, health care professionals and others.

  • Georgia Choice helps qualified disabled borrowers with $7,500 in down payment assistance.

Find details about the Georgia Dream mortgage and Georgia Dream Down Payment Assistance programs, including income and purchase-price limits and a map of targeted counties, at For additional information or assistance, email [email protected].

Only certain lenders are approved by the state to offer Georgia Dream mortgages. Buyers begin the application process by finding a participating lender that can review the requirements with you and help you apply for pre-qualification and preapproval. Lenders may have additional requirements for borrowers. All lenders are required to offer home buyers the same rates and fees, and Georgia Dream has a cap on the amount of fees a lender may charge.

If your credit score is too low to qualify for a Georgia Dream mortgage, there’s still hope. Ready, Set, Go is a home buyer program that helps would-be homeowners work on improving their credit scores to become eligible for a Georgia Dream home loan.

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