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How to Apply for the First-Time Home Buyer Grant

by Jeremy Watson, studioD

First-time home buyer assistance programs are designed to make homeownership accessible to everyone. These programs generally include benefits such as down payment grants, interest-free or low-rate loans and grants to cover closing costs. When purchasing a home for the first time be sure to know what programs are available in your area.

Find a lender. Not all lenders offer first-time home buyer assistance. An ideal scenario would be to identify and work with a lender that does offer this assistance. However, even if you can not find a participating lender to work with for your home purchase, make them aware that you plan to apply for assistance. They may be able to recommend programs.

Apply for a loan. A first-time home buyer grant or loan will not cover the full cost of the home. You will need to be approved for a home loan to cover the majority of the home price. This underscores why it is important to identify a lender first. You will need to apply for and be approved for a loan before you begin looking for grants or other kinds of assistance.

Determine which assistance programs you’re eligible for. Most states and some cities and counties offer first-time home buyer assistance. Review the HUD website for a list of programs available in your area. The eligibility criteria will vary by state and by city. For example, in Arlington, Virginia, to be a first-time home buyer you must have not owned a home for the past three years and your household income must be below a certain limit. The property must also be located in the county and be priced below the maximum.

Once you've found a first-time home buyer program in your area, contact the provider. In most cases, it will be a state or local housing authority. Find out the details of the program and what information you’ll need to apply. In the Arlington county example, a first-time home buyer assessment form and completion of a first-time home buyer education course are requirements. You may also need financial documents, such as previous tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements and employment history.

Obtain an application form directly from the assistance provider or download the form from the website. Complete the application and submit it along with your financial documents.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Jeremy Watson is an engineer and urban planner. He has been involved with urban design, city infrastructure and business since 2008. Watson holds a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University Florida, as well as a Master of Science in urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech.

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