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Down Payment Assistance Programs: What You Need to Know

Affordability poses a significant challenge for individuals considering buying a home. When factoring in the down payment, closing costs, and other charges, purchasing a home remains one of the most substantial transactions in an individual’s life. What if there was a way to get assistance with the down payment while still achieving homeownership?

Down payment assistance (DPA) programs help families and individuals purchase a primary residence by providing down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a second mortgage or grant. These programs enable prospective homeowners to purchase property much sooner than they anticipated. If you’re not familiar with the concept of down-payment assistance, our guidance will let you understand how it works and how to find the right program that caters to your financial needs.

What Is Down Payment Assistance?

Down payment assistance helps you afford a home in the form of a grant or lien. This offsets the huge cost that comes with obtaining a mortgage and brings you closer to homeownership. If you’re wondering if you fit into the category that requires down payment assistance, you may find yourself in one of the following scenarios:

  • I am a first-time homebuyer looking into my down payment options.
  • I need financial assistance for my down payment and/or closing costs.
  • I’m looking for programs offered specifically in my city or state.
  • I already own a home but want to know my down payment options for my next home.

Through down payment assistance programs, you can receive financial support, allowing you to allocate additional funds toward your home once the purchase is complete. Additional benefits of using down payment assistance programs include affordability, a fast track to homeownership, and increased purchase power. With these advantages, you can turn your homeownership dreams into a reality.

Are There Cons to Using Down Payment Assistance?

While down payment assistance offers significant benefits for potential homebuyers, it’s important to be aware of possible drawbacks. One limitation of DPA programs is the eligibility criteria. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for down payment assistance. These programs often have specific income limits, credit score requirements, and other prerequisites that buyers must meet.

Another consideration is the potential for repayment. While some DPA programs provide grants or forgivable loans, others offer assistance in the form of loans that need to be repaid over time. This additional financial obligation can impact the buyer’s budget and financial flexibility, especially when combined with a mortgage payment.

While down payment assistance programs can provide valuable support for achieving homeownership, it’s crucial to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Assess your financial situation and talk with your loan officer to see if DPA programs are the right choice for you.

Who Qualifies for Down Payment Assistance?

The eligibility criteria for down payment assistance can vary based on the specific program and state in which you would purchase a home. Some common factors that may allow you to be eligible are:

  • You must occupy the home as a primary residence.
  • Flexible credit score and credit history requirements.
  • Must fall within program income limits which vary by county and specific program guidelines.
  • Some programs will allow borrowers who have owned a home in the past; There is not always a first-time homebuyer requirement.

Depending on the program you choose, every county and state will have its own varied eligibility requirements. Check with your loan officer to see what’s available in your area and they can use their knowledge of your financial situation to find which program is an ideal fit.

Types of Down Payment Assistance

Down payment assistance programs come in various forms to assist individuals and families in purchasing a home. Some common types of DPA include:

Grants: Considered to be fully forgivable and never have to be paid back by the borrower.

Subordinate Liens: Assistance provided by a Housing Finance Agency (HFA) program that may be fully forgivable, deferred, or have a monthly payment associated with them.

Community Second Mortgages: Also come in the form of a subordinate lien which may be fully forgivable, repayable, or have a deferred payment structure. Community Seconds are not considered Housing Finance Agency (HFA) programs because they have different requirements that lenders are required to follow.

It’s essential to carefully review the terms and conditions of any DPA program you’re considering to fully understand the assistance type, repayment requirements (if applicable), and any obligations associated with the program.

How to Find Down Payment Assistance Programs

Begin by exploring online resources, such as government websites and housing agencies. We are excited to announce that we are partnered with Down Payment Resource, which is a great online tool for everything you need to know about DPA and available programs. For more information and to start finding program matches for your home purchase, consult with one of our mortgage experts!

Your loan officer acts as a mortgage expert who has industry insights and local market expertise that might lead you to relevant assistance options. Your real estate agent is another great source of information as they can determine which properties match your preference and fall under the right down payment assistance program.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

Down payment assistance programs vary widely across states and can even be available at a local level.

State Programs

Many states offer their own down payment assistance programs to assist homebuyers in achieving homeownership. These programs can take various forms, including grants, low-interest loans, or forgivable loans. Eligibility criteria often depend on factors such as income and credit score. If you want to buy a home in California and need down payment assistance, examples of state programs would be the GSFA or CalHFA programs, both of which help more Californians have a place to call home.

Local Programs

Certain cities and counties often have their own down payment assistance programs tailored to local housing needs and economic conditions. These programs can be quite diverse, offering different types of financial assistance, such as grants, soft loans, or deferred-payment loans. Eligibility criteria may be influenced by local housing market conditions and the availability of funds. For homebuyers looking to purchase in San Diego, the San Diego Housing Commission has its own program that caters to the current and soon-to-be residents of sunny San Diego. The County of Fresno also has its own program for potential homebuyers in Fresno, proving that there are programs available depending on where you’re located, not limited to the examples above.


Certain nonprofit organizations incorporate housing assistance as a core component of their mission and can provide access to a broader range of resources. For example, the TSAHC (Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation) is a nonprofit organization that serves as a statewide affordable housing provider.

Save and Buy With Down Payment Assistance!

If affordability challenges have closed doors for you and made it seem like homeownership was out of sight, down payment assistance programs could be your solution. Through financial support, educational resources, and strategic planning, these programs can turn your homeownership dream into a reality. Whether you’re a first-time or repeat homebuyer looking to maximize affordability and savings, the options provided by down payment assistance programs are worth exploring. By understanding your eligibility, researching available programs, and seeking guidance from professionals, you can unlock the doors to homeownership with ease.

If you have the time and budget to save for a larger down payment, check out our methods on saving for a down payment! A combination of saving and choosing the right DPA program can be the ideal mix for a successful homebuying experience.

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