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Washington, D.C., First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2019

June 21, 2019
Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
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Washington, D.C., is an expensive place to live, making homeownership feel out of reach for many first-time buyers. The District of Columbia’s Housing Finance Agency, or DCHFA, offers several programs designed to help.

First-time home buyers in Washington, D.C., may also benefit from the relaxed qualification requirements that some national loan programs offer. Explore all the options for buying your first home in America’s capital city.

National first-time home buyer programs

These mortgage products typically have low down payment or credit score requirements, and are offered by most lenders.

Conventional mortgage

National program

Best for

Low down payment

Limited mortgage insurance premiums

What you need to know

First-time home buyers can get a conventional home loan with as little as 3% down if the mortgage meets requirements set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And if you put at least 20% down, you won’t have to pay mortgage insurance. Most lenders require a minimum credit score of 620 to qualify for a

 

FHA loans

National program

Best for

Low credit score

Low down payment

What you need to know

This is the go-to program for many first-time home buyers with lower credit scores. The Federal Housing Administration allows down payments as low as 3.5% for those with credit scores of 580 or higher. The FHA will insure loans for borrowers with scores as low as 500 but requires a 10% down payment

 

VA loans

National program

Best for

Military

Low down payment

What you need to know

Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, these mortgages are available to military members, veterans and surviving spouses. If you qualify, you’ll see benefits such as no minimum credit score and no down payment or mortgage insurance, but you'll likely have to pay a VA funding fee.

 

USDA loans

National program

Best for

Low down payment

Rural

What you need to know

A USDA home loan is a zero-down-payment mortgage for eligible rural and suburban home buyers. USDA loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program. There are income limitations, which vary by region. Applicants with credit

DCHFA highlights and eligibility requirements

Through its various assistance programs, DCHFA can help first-time home buyers become homeowners sooner and with fewer upfront costs.

Highlights

  • Open to first-time borrowers and, in some cases, repeat home buyers, as well.
  • Down payment and closing cost assistance available.
  • Federal tax credits available.
  • Condos and cooperative units may also be eligible.

Eligibility

  • Borrower’s income and debts must be within program limits.
  • Borrower must have an acceptable credit score.
  • Loan amount limits may apply.

DCHFA first-time home buyer programs

D.C. Open Doors

State program

Learn more

at DCHFA

Best for

Low mortgage rates

Down payment assistance

What you need to know

This program offers conventional and FHA mortgages at below-market interest rates. Qualified borrowers can also get down payment assistance of up to 3.5% of the total loan amount. Assistance is provided in the form of a zero-interest loan with no payments required unless the borrower refinances the

 

Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP)

State program

Learn more

at DCHFA

Best for

Low income borrowers

Down payment assistance

Closing cost assistance

What you need to know

This program gives eligible first-time home buyers up to $84,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance. These funds are provided as a no-interest loan, with no payments required for the first five years. Immediate repayment of the remaining balance is required if the borrower sells or

 

Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC)

State program

Learn more

at DCHFA

Best for

Tax credits

What you need to know

First-time home buyers — those who haven’t owned a house in the past three years — can use this program to get a tax credit of up to 20% of their annual mortgage interest. The first-time homebuyer requirement may be waived for veterans or those who purchase in certain areas of Washington, D.C. The

Summary: 2019 DCHFA first-time home buyer programs

  • D.C. Open Doors program for down payment assistance.
  • Home Purchase Assistance program for help with a down payment and closing costs.
  • Mortgage credit certificate for an annual tax credit of up to 20% of paid interest.

Now that you have a better idea of the first-time home buyer programs available in Washington, D.C., it’s time to think about next steps. Start by reading the full details of these assistance programs on the DCHFA website.

You can also reach out to a DCHFA participating lender to find out if you meet program eligibility requirements, and to get more information about how to submit a full mortgage application.

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