Buying a house in Massachusetts can seem like an impossible goal, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer, have low to moderate income or have struggled to save for a down payment.
The good news is there are several mortgage programs designed to help first-time home buyers and others in Massachusetts achieve their homeownership goals.
Highlights and eligibility requirements
- Down payment assistance up to $12,000
- Mortgage payment protection available in case of job loss
- Affordable mortgage insurance options
- Multiple loan options for veterans, active duty military and their families
- Borrower must meet credit, asset, income and loan limits of program and lender
- Property must be located in Massachusetts and be the borrower’s primary residence
- Borrower must complete a home buyer education course
- Some loans have specific debt-to-income limits
Massachusetts first-time home buyer loan programs
Offered by the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, this 30-year mortgage has a fixed, discounted interest rate and low down payment requirement, generally 3% of the purchase price. Unlike some other loans, One Mortgage doesn’t require mortgage insurance just because you put less than 20% down, and income-qualified borrowers may enjoy reduced monthly payments during the loan’s first years.
This 30-year mortgage, offered through the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, or MassHousing, features fixed interest rates and low down payment options. If required, you can choose from several affordable mortgage insurance programs, including a lender-paid option. Each mortgage insurance option includes six months of mortgage payment protection — up to $2,000 a month — that may help you keep your home even if you suddenly lose your job.
MassHousing Mortgage with No MI
As the name implies, this loan is available to qualified first-time home buyers with no monthly mortgage insurance premium. That’s on top of a mortgage with low down payment requirements and an affordable fixed interest rate.
MassHousing Mortgage with Rehabilitation
If you’re considering a fixer-upper, this mortgage program can combine purchase and renovation costs into one loan. Featuring low down payment requirements as well as closing cost assistance, the MassHousing Mortgage With Rehabilitation allows qualified borrowers to finance up to 50% of a home’s “as completed” appraisal value toward renovations, repairs, and expenses like inspection fees, title update fees and contingency reserve funds. Keep in mind that lenders may charge additional fees based on the cost of the property’s rehabilitation.
Home for the Brave
Designed specifically for veterans, active-duty military and the spouses of those killed in the line of military duty, Home for the Brave loans feature low down payment requirements and closing cost assistance. Borrowers who qualify for this 30-year, fixed-rate loan will also have access to a mortgage insurance program that covers up to six monthly payments if they’re deployed or lose their job. Although you don’t have to be a first-time home buyer to take advantage of the Home for the Brave program, you can’t own more than one house when the loan closes.
Operation Welcome Home
This loan program creates an affordable path to homeownership for active duty military members, honorably discharged veterans, members of the Reserves and National Guard, and Gold Star Family members. Typically reserved for first-time home buyers — those who haven’t owned a home in the past three years — the Operation Welcome Home program is open to repeat buyers in certain cities. Qualified borrowers have access to down payment and closing cost assistance, as well as a variety of mortgage insurance options.
If you’re considering a home in Attleboro, Brockton, Cape Cod and the Islands, Fall River, New Bedford, North Quabbin, Quincy, Southbridge, Springfield, Taunton or Worcester, the Buy Cities loan program may make it more affordable. This program offers qualified borrowers a fixed-rate mortgage with low down payment requirements, or in some cases, no down payment at all. Buy Cities loans are combined with a mortgage insurance program that will cover your mortgage payments for up to six months in the event that you become suddenly unemployed.
Massachusetts down payment assistance
If you qualify for a MassHousing mortgage, you may also be eligible for help making the down payment on your first house. MassHousing will lend up to 3% of the home’s purchase price or $12,000, whichever is less, for a down payment. You can’t make more than the median income for your area and may have to meet other eligibility requirements. Down payment assistance comes in the form of a 15-year loan with 1% interest, and payments are separate from your mortgage. The down payment assistance loan must be repaid in full if you sell or refinance the property before the 15-year term is up.
Your next step
Now that you have some basic information about state-sponsored mortgage products, it’s time to delve into each loan program’s requirements so you can choose the right loan for your needs.
For full details on the One Mortgage program, visit the Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s website.
To learn more about any of the other first-time home buyer loan programs mentioned above, visit the MassHousing website.
National first-time home buyer programs to consider
Conventional loans enabled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can be ideal if you have a strong credit history but a limited amount for a down payment. Both government-sponsored enterprises offer mortgage products that require only 3% down.
FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, offer more flexible guidelines when it comes to income and credit, and can be obtained with as little as 3.5% down payment.
VA loans have relaxed credit requirements and lower interest rates. Offered by private lenders and insured by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans can often be obtained with zero down payment.
USDA loans are often ideal for any low- to moderate-income borrower who wants to live in a specific rural or suburban area. Most U.S. Department of Agriculture loans have attractive interest rates and require little or no down payment.
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