Pennsylvania First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2021

Jan 1, 2021
Pennsylvania First-Time Home Buyer Programs

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. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency offers down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time home buyers in the Keystone State. The PHFA also provides mortgage loan programs, refinancing and home improvement loans.

To be considered a first-time home buyer, you must not have owned your primary residence during the past three years. Veterans or buyers in certain target counties don’t have to meet first-time home buyer restrictions to take advantage of PHFA programs.

National first-time home buyer programs

The PHFA offers a lot of loan and down payment assistance programs, but you also have additional resources to consider. There are national programs aimed at low- to moderate-income prospective homeowners, with low — and even no — down payment requirements.

PHFA highlights and eligibility

The following programs are specifically tailored to Pennsylvania residents. While each program has its own qualifying standards, a PHFA-approved lender can help you navigate the details.


  • Down payment and closing cost assistance.

  • Programs for borrowers with disabilities.

  • Tax credits may apply.

  • Programs for purchase and refinancing.

  • 30-year fixed-interest loans.

  • Employer-assisted housing available through participating employers.


  • Borrowers’ liquid assets, including investment accounts, must be no greater than $50,000 after payment of closing costs (retirement accounts may be excluded with certain restrictions).

  • You should plan to use no more than 30% of your income to make your monthly payment.

  • Household income and purchase price cannot exceed county limits.

  • The home must be your primary residence.

  • Minimum credit score of 660 for some programs.

  • Borrowers with FICO scores lower than 680 must complete home buyer education.

PHFA first-time home buyer loan programs

Summary: 2021 PHFA first-time home buyer programs

  • HFA Preferred Risk Sharing home loan with no mortgage insurance requirement.

  • HFA Preferred home loan with mortgage insurance.

  • Keystone government loan program for borrowers of FHA, USDA and VA loans.

  • Keystone home loan program for purchasing property in certain targeted areas.

  • Keystone Advantage Assistance loan program providing down payment and closing cost assistance.

  • Mortgage credit certificate providing annual tax credit.

  • Programs for persons with disabilities to help with down payment and closing costs.

  • Homestead forgivable loan for down payment and closing cost assistance.

  • Employer-assisted housing program providing assistance to employees of participating companies and institutions.

Keep in mind, the lender you work with may have additional borrower requirements than those stated in any state assistance program. That can include credit score minimums or other credit qualifications. Find out all you can about the programs you’re interested in, then talk to a few lenders about your options.

For full details on any Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency program, visit the PHFA website.

You also can find Pennsylvania lenders that participate in PHFA programs.

More from NerdWallet

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.