First-time home buyers in the Garden State looking for help in getting their homeownership dreams fulfilled can turn to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. The NJHMFA has assisted over 115,000 state residents in becoming homeowners in the past 50 years.
You may qualify for free money to apply to down payment and closing costs — and receive favorable fixed-interest-rate home loans.
The Garden State offers the following programs to help you put down roots.
NJHMFA highlights and eligibility requirements
- 30-year fixed-interest-rate programs
- Government-insured loans
- Programs for buyers who are upgrading and downsizing, as well as first-timers
- Some programs have location, income and purchase price restrictions
- The home must be your primary residence
- If the house is a two- to four-unit home, one unit must be your primary residence
- You’ll need a credit score of 620 or higher
New Jersey home buyer loan programs
Homeward Bound Mortgage Program
The core mortgage loan for all of NJHMFA’s assistance programs is a 30-year, fixed-rate, government-insured mortgage with no points. There isn’t a first-time home buyer restriction; it’s also available to New Jersey residents who are looking to “upgrade to a larger home or downsize to a smaller home.”
Police and Firemen’s Retirement System Mortgage Program
If you are an active member of New Jersey’s Police and Firemen’s Retirement System and have at least one year of service, you’re eligible for this 30-year fixed-rate loan program. The home’s purchase price must be less than $424,100.
New Jersey home buyer assistance programs
This first-time home buyer assistance program provides up to 4% of the mortgage amount to apply to your down payment or closing costs. It’s a 0% interest loan that doesn’t require monthly payments — in fact, it’s forgiven over five years. Applicants are considered first-time buyers if they haven’t owned a home within the past three years.
One catch: The program is limited to homes located in “Smart Growth Areas” designated by state and associated planning commissions. Use the website search option to find eligible addresses.
» MORE: Best New Jersey Mortgage Lenders
The New Jersey HomeSeeker program offers $16,000 in closing cost and down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and veterans. That amount is offered as a 0% interest loan that is forgiven in five years. However, HomeSeeker is available to buyers only in Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Passaic and Union counties. Specific county income and purchase price limits apply, and buyers must obtain financing through the Homeward Bound loan program.
Note: The HomeSeeker program has been temporarily suspended, but Amy Palmer, a spokeswoman for NJHMFA, says it may resume “within the next month or so.”
Your next step
For full details on any New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency program, visit the NJHMFA website.
You’ll find lenders who participate in NJHMFA programs. It’s always a good idea to shop around for a lender, as loan terms and interest rates will vary among lenders.
National first-time home buyer programs to consider
State assistance and loan programs aren’t the only resources you can tap into. Some municipalities offer housing assistance, especially for residents, and national funding sources should also be considered. Here are major programs that offer low- and no-down payment programs:
FHA-backed loans are well known for being first-timer friendly. Down payments can be as low as 3.5%, and FHA loans are easier to qualify for than conventional mortgages.
VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and are offered to active-duty service members and military veterans. Requiring no down payment, these loans have helped generations of home buyers.
USDA mortgages help develop rural and suburban neighborhoods. The loans require no down payment and are particularly suited for borrowers of modest means.
Conventional loans, backed by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, require a solid FICO score and favorable credit history, but can come with down payments as low as 3% for first-time buyers.
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