Advertiser Disclosure

Washington State First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2019

Dec. 17, 2018
Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
washington-state-first-time-home-buyer-programs
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

First-time home buyers in Washington can take advantage of special loan programs and down payment assistance available just for residents. Got your eye on a cottage in King County? Or maybe a split-level in Spokane?

The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) knows the lay of the land and the lenders that can help.

National first-time home buyer programs

The WSHFC provides a wide variety of loan programs and down payment assistance; however, there are national loan programs to consider, as well.

Administered by government agencies — such as the VA or FHA — or federally authorized companies, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, these programs offer low-down-payment options, too.

Conventional mortgage

National program

Best for

Low down payments

Limited mortgage insurance premiums

What you need to know

A conventional mortgage is a home loan that isn’t guaranteed or insured by the federal government. Conventional mortgages that conform to the requirements set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow down payments as low as 3% for first-time buyers or lower-income home buyers. Unlike FHA loans,

 

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

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans and surviving spouses buy homes. VA loans are especially generous, providing competitive interest rates, often requiring no down payment or mortgage insurance. Although there is no official minimum credit score, most

 

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

 

Washington State first-time home buyer programs

These are first-time home buyer assistance programs tailored just for residents in the Evergreen State. If you live here, it’s a good idea to see if you qualify for them.

WSHFC highlights and eligibility requirements

Highlights

  • 30-year fixed-rate home loans.
  • Down payment assistance up to 5% of the mortgage amount.
  • Available for single-family houses, condos, town houses and manufactured homes.

Eligibility

  • A home buyer education course is required, in person or online.
  • Annual household income typically cannot exceed $97,000.
  • Some down payment assistance programs are restricted to first-time home buyers.
  • If you haven’t owned and occupied your primary residence in the past three years, you qualify as a first-time home buyer.
  • Specific areas are exempt from the first-time home buyer requirement.

» MORE: Tips for first-time home buyers

Home Advantage DPA #1

State program

Best for

Down payment assistance

What you need to know

Receive up to 5% of your loan amount in down payment assistance, depending on the type of loan you choose (conventional, FHA, VA, etc.). It’s a 0% interest loan, with payment deferred for 30 years. Repayment is due sooner if you sell the home or refinance the mortgage. Income limits apply, which

 

Home Advantage DPA #2

State program

Best for

Down payment assistance

Military

What you need to know

Provides up to $10,000 in down payment assistance, with needs-based qualifications. Borrowers entitled to VA loans are granted exceptions to some qualifying restrictions.

 

Opportunity DPA

State program

Best for

Down payment assistance

What you need to know

Down payment assistance of up to $10,000 is provided with a 1% interest rate, deferred for 30 years. To qualify, you must be a first-time home buyer or live in certain areas of the state.

 

HomeChoice

State program

Best for

Disabilities

Down payment assistance

What you need to know

This program is for borrowers who have a disability — or have a family member living with them who does. It provides up to $15,000 in down payment assistance in a 1% deferred second mortgage.

 

House Key Veterans

State program

Best for

Military

Down payment assistance

What you need to know

For borrowers who are military veterans, or current or former members of the Washington National Guard or Reserve, $10,000 in down payment assistance is structured as a second mortgage with a 3% interest rate, and deferred for up to 30 years.

 

Your next step

WSHFC provides ample options for first-timers to get into a home. It all starts with a conversation with a lender — or better yet, several lenders. Find someone you feel comfortable with who will take the time to help you make sense of these programs.

Interest rates and loan terms vary by lender, which is why it makes sense to shop around for the best deal.

For full details on any program, visit the Washington State Housing Finance Commission online.

You’ll find lenders that participate in these programs on the WSHFC website.

» MORE: See the best Washington State mortgage lenders

More from NerdWallet