Iowa First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2020

NerdWalletJanuary 2, 2020

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The Iowa Finance Authority is the state gateway to affordable mortgages. The IFA offers assistance to first-time home buyers as well as those who have previously owned a home. It also provides a military homeownership program for service members and veterans.

Buying your first home might be the highest financial hurdle you’ll ever face. It’s not just all the paperwork — or the thought of a 30-year payment commitment. It’s saving for the down payment that makes so many potential buyers think twice.

Yet these days it’s common to put less than 20% down. The Iowa Finance Authority offers assistance, grants and first-time home buyer programs designed to help you reach the number you need for that down payment.

National first-time home buyer programs

No search for mortgage assistance is complete without checking into nationally available loan programs. Millions of first-time buyers have taken advantage of the low- or no-down-payment loans offered by these government-backed or government-sponsored providers.

Iowa Finance Authority highlights and eligibility requirements

Like all state housing authorities, the IFA has income and home purchase price limits that help define eligibility. You’ll generally need a credit score of 640 or higher, and a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or lower.


  • IFA loan programs have interest rates that are typically lower than the going market rate.

  • Mortgages have fixed interest rates and 30-year terms.

  • Conventional loans that allow 3% down payments and have no — or low — mortgage insurance fees.

  • Some programs require no down payment at all.


  • First-time home buyers are defined as not having owned their primary residence in the last three years.

  • Service members and veterans generally have first-time home buyer requirements waived.

  • Repeat buyers can qualify for some programs by purchasing a home in specific Iowa neighborhoods.

  • The home must serve as your primary residence.

Iowa Finance Authority first-time home buyer programs

Your next step

If these programs are looking pretty good to you, it may be time to talk to an IFA participating lender for more details. The lender will determine if you’re likely to qualify and let you know what information you’ll need to gather to complete a loan application.

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