If you’re a first-time home buyer or repeat buyer in Illinois, the state’s housing development authority offers down payment assistance and loan programs that may help you clear the hurdles of buying a home.
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
- Cash assistance is available to apply to your down payment or closing costs
- One 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
- Ability to make monthly payments
- Must meet county household income limits and purchase price limits
- 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
Illinois home buyer assistance programs
The name of the program may not be that creative, but it tells you what you need to know. It begins with 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 ten years. Government loans, such as VA, FHA and USDA are included, in addition to conventional mortgages.
You may receive 5% of the purchase price in cash assistance, up to $7,500, on this interest-free loan. You don’t make monthly payments on this loan, either. Rather than being forgiven, the assistance you receive is paid off when you refinance, sell the house or pay off your mortgage.
Get 10% of the purchase price in cash 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.
This IHDA program provides $7,500 to be used for first-time home buyers’ down payment or closing costs. And you don’t have to pay back the cash assistance you received if you live in the home for at least five years. 1stHomeIllinois is combined with a 30-year fixed-rate FHA, VA, USDA or conventional mortgage. This program is also available for repeat buyers purchasing in certain counties targeted for redevelopment. New construction is excluded from this program.
Your next step
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.
For full details on any Illinois Housing Development Authority program, visit the IHDA website.
You’ll find Illinois lenders that participate in these programs by searching the IHDA lender list.
National first-time home buyer programs to consider
First-time home buyers are important to lenders, so there are also options available nationwide for low down payment mortgages specially designed for low- to moderate-income borrowers:
FHA-backed loans are the most common. With down payments as low as 3.5% and more relaxed credit score standards, lenders offering FHA-insured loans should surely be on your list to investigate.
VA loans are a benefit for military veterans and active-duty service members. This loan program, offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has helped millions get into their first home, with no down payments and favorable interest rates.
USDA mortgages allow borrowers in specific rural and suburban areas to get no-down-payment loans. No livestock or green thumb required.
Conventional loans are the mortgages lenders most like to approve. Although they usually require a bit more creditworthiness to qualify, you’ll find they allow down payments for first-time buyers as low as 3%.
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