Illinois First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2023

Abby Badach Doyle
By Abby Badach Doyle 
Edited by Johanna Arnone

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If you’re a first-time home buyer — or even a repeat buyer — in Illinois, the state’s housing development authority may help you clear the hurdles of buying a home through its down payment assistance and loan programs. Almost all of the programs offered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, or IHDA, are valid in any county in Illinois.

IHDA highlights and eligibility requirements

Here are the home buying programs offered for Illinois residents. You'll find assistance for down payments and closing costs. 


  • Assistance is available to apply to your down payment or closing costs.

  • One assistance program is structured as a loan that doesn’t have to be repaid.

  • 30-year fixed-rate loans are offered.

  • Government-backed loans are available.


  • Minimum credit score of 640 is generally required.

  • Contribute $1,000 or 1% of the purchase price, whichever is greater.

  • The home must be your primary residence.

  • You must complete homeownership counseling, either in person or online.

IHDA first-time home buyer loan programs

Find Illinois lenders that participate in these programs by searching the IHDA lender list.

IHDAccess Forgivable

Best for:

Cash assistance without repayment

What you need to know:

This program offers down payment cash assistance of 4% of the home’s purchase price, up to $6,000. The cash assistance is forgiven monthly without payment over 10 years. The assistance is available with a conventional mortgage or a government-backed loan, such as a VA, FHA or USDA mortgage.

IHDAccess Deferred

Best for:

Buying yourself some time to repay a zero-interest loan

What you need to know:

You may receive 5% of the purchase price in cash assistance, up to $7,500, on this 0% interest loan. You don’t make monthly payments on this loan. Instead, you’ll repay the assistance you receive when you refinance, sell the house or pay off your mortgage.

IHDAccess Repayable

Best for:

Largest amount of assistance, paid back over time

What you need to know:

Get 10% of the purchase price in down payment or closing cost assistance, up to $10,000. This is also structured as an interest-free loan, but you pay this one back over a 10-year period.

The lender you work with may have additional borrower requirements beyond those stated in any state assistance program. That can include credit score minimums or other credit qualifications. Dig into the programs you’re interested in, learn all you can, then talk to a few lenders about the possibilities.

First-time home buyer programs near Illinois

National first-time home buyer programs

You don't have to live in the Land of Lincoln to access these initiatives; the following national programs help first-timers across the U.S. get into a home of their own.

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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