New York State First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2020

NerdWalletJanuary 16, 2020
On a similar note...
On a similar note...

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

The State of New York Mortgage Agency offers special programs to qualified first-time home buyers who want to purchase property in-state. If you haven’t owned a primary residence during the past three years, SONYMA considers you a first-time home buyer.

NerdWallet Guide to COVID-19

Get answers to questions about your mortgage, travel, finances — and maintaining your peace of mind.

National first-time home buyer programs

You don't have to be an Empire State resident to access these national programs. They are a good first step before you drill down to state-sanctioned initiatives.

SONYMA highlights and eligibility requirements

These programs are offered to New York state first-time home buyers. However, the first-time buyer requirement is waived if you are a U.S. military veteran applying to purchase a home or you’re buying a home in a federally designated “target area” — an economically disadvantaged neighborhood where homeownership may provide a boost to the local quality of life.


  • There is no credit score requirement for mortgage programs.

  • Nontraditional credit is considered for some programs.

  • Mortgage insurance is required on loan-to-value >80%.

  • Down payment assistance is offered.


  • Borrowers must have a minimum of three lines of credit that have been active for at least 18 of the past 24 months — and paid on time.

  • Overall debt-to-income ratio of 45% or less.

  • Must meet county limits on household income and purchase price.

  • Maximum LTV of 97% for single-family homes.

  • Two-year employment history.

  • Borrower contribution of at least 1% on LTV >95%.

  • Attend a home buyer education course.

Compare SONYMA Lenders

New York state first-time home buyer programs

Summary: 2020 SONYMA first-time home buyer programs

  • Achieving the Dream offers a low down payment and a discounted interest rate to lower-income borrowers.

  • The Conventional Plus Program offers cash assistance with relaxed loan qualifications.

  • The Low Interest Rate Program has favorable interest rates on loans for low- to moderate-income borrowers.

  • Down Payment Assistance Loans provide up to $15,000 in assistance.

  • The Homes for Veterans Program helps military borrowers buy a home, whether or not it's their first.

  • RemodelNY combines purchase and renovation loans.

  • The Energy Star Labeled Homes Program encourages energy-efficient upgrades.

  • The FHA Plus Program allows down payment assistance on an already low-down-payment FHA home loan.

  • The Graduate to Homeownership Program offers down payment assistance to recent college graduates buying in certain New York State communities.

  • The Neighborhood Revitalization Program provides cash and financing assistance to buy and renovate vacant homes.

Remember, the lender you work with may have additional borrower requirements than those stated in any SONYMA assistance program. They may include credit score minimums or other credit qualifications. So, dig into the programs you’re interested in, learn all you can, then talk to a few lenders about the possibilities.

For full details on any SONYMA program, visit the SONYMA website.

To find participating lenders, search the SONYMA lender list.

More from NerdWallet