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 Department of Community Affairs.
A wide range of mortgage options exist for first-time home buyers through the Georgia Dream program, and there are several ways to qualify for down payment assistance.
Georgia Dream program highlights and eligibility requirements
- Affordable mortgage rates, home buyer education and down payment assistance for buying a home anywhere in the state
- About a 60-day process for buyers who have all their documentation available
- Most Georgia Dream first-time home buyers receive down payment assistance
- The minimum credit score is 640
- There are price and income limits — here in English and here in Spanish — which vary depending on the property’s location
- There also are limits on the value of borrowers’ liquid assets, including cash gifts and stocks
- Other limits affect how much of a borrower’s income may be spent on housing and total debt
- Buyers are required to invest a minimum of $1,000 of their own money or a gift
- Borrowers who want to buy a home in areas designated as targeted counties or census tracts do not have to be first-time buyers
- One of three types of home buyer education is required: an approved workshop; individual housing counseling from approved agencies ; or an eHome America online home buyer education course
Georgia home buyer loans
Mortgage options include 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.
Georgia home buyer assistance programs
Standard down payment assistance
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.
Home buyers who work as public protectors, educators and health care providers, or who are active military service members and National Guard, may receive up to $7,500 total. 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.
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.
Your next step
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 www.GADream.com. For additional information or assistance, email email@example.com.
Only certain lenders are approved by the state to offer Georgia Dream Mortgages. Buyers begin the application process by finding a participating lender who can review the requirements with you and help you apply for prequalification and preapproval. Lenders may have additional requirements for borrowers. All lenders are required to offer home buyers the same rates and fees.
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.
National first-time home buyer programs to consider
If Georgia’s housing assistance programs are not right for you, look into these four national programs that can help low-to-moderate-income borrowers and first-time buyers.
FHA-backed loans require down payments as low as 3.5%. The qualification rules are somewhat relaxed.
VA loans give veterans and active-duty military service members help purchasing a primary residence. VA loans include limited closing costs, lower-rate mortgages, no mortgage insurance requirement and, usually, no down payment.
USDA mortgages let rural home buyers get government-backed mortgages with no down payment. Borrowers in many suburban areas may qualify, too.
Conventional loans are available with as little as 3% down with backing from government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
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