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First Time Home Buyer Programs

Buying a home has always been part of the American dream. However, in many areas it has become increasingly difficult to afford a house as home prices have skyrocketed across the country. 

Luckily, there are some excellent programs to help first time home buyers achieve this dream.

Some of the benefits include:

  • downpayment assistance 
  • tax credits
  • lower interest rate options.

The problem is most people don’t even know any of these programs exist, so they think homeownership is out of reach.

For this reason, we created a list of all the tools you can use to help you purchase your first house without dipping into your wallet as much.

First Time Home Buyer Loans

List of First Time Home Buyer Programs


FHA Loan Programs

What is it?
A FHA loan is a loan that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This protects the bank lending you the loan from any type of risk. It is probably the most common loan for young or first time home buyers due to the low down payment required.

Who Qualifies for it?
Anyone who is able to meet the down payment & credit score requirements.

What Credit Score Do You Need?
Typically to qualify, you would need at least a 580 credit score, however you might be able to qualify with a lower credit score by putting 10% down.

How much Down Payment is Required?
One of the reasons that FHA loans are so attractive to young people or first time home buyers is that you only need to put down 3.5% of the loan amount, compared to 5% on conventional loans.

If your credit score is below 580, you may still be able to qualify by putting 10% of the loan amount down.

What is Mortgage Insurance and why do I need it?
Mortgage insurance is a policy that protects lenders in case of default from the borrower. It is required for all FHA loans regardless of down payment.

FHA Loan limits
The FHA loan limit will depend on which city that you live in. You can search loan limits here:

How to get an FHA Loan
You must go through a FHA approved lender. Contact us here for a list of approved lenders. 


VA Loan Programs

What is it?

The VA Loan is a home-mortgage option available to United States Veterans and active duty Service Members. They are 100% loans guranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Who Qualifies for it?

Any veteran or active duty service member so long as they were not dishonorably discharged.

Down Payment

The beauty of the VA loan is that there is no down payment required with this loan, which makes it extremely easy for veterans to purchase a home.

There is a 2.15% funding fee if no money is put down towards the purchase price of the house, but this cost can be rolled into the mortgage. If you are using the VA loan a second time with no money down, the funding fee goes up to 3.3%

Mortgage Insurance

Another great feature about this loan is that there is no PMI (private mortgage insurance) required, saving veterans or service members thousands of dollars.

VA Loan limits

The VA loan does not have a maximum amount that the borrower may borrow, but it does have a limit of $453,100 that it will guarantee.



USDA Loan Programs

What is it?

A USDA home loan is a loan that does not require a down payment for eligible rural and suburban homebuyers. If you are wanting to live closer to the city, then this will not be a good option for you.

Who Qualifies for it?

First, you need to make sure the property you are looking to purchase is eligible for the USDA loan.

Next, you need to see if you meet the minimum requirements to obtain the loan.

Credit Score

A credit score of 640 should get you approved, but anything lower and the lender will have to do a manual review.

Mortgage Insurance?

There is no mortgage insurance on a USDA Loan, however there is a 2% premium upfront. This can also be rolled into the loan for the property so that you are not coming out of pocket on the front end.

USDA Loan limits

The loan limits are ever changing and it’s best to contact a lender to verify before starting your home search.


Physician loan

What is it?

It is a home loan specifically for doctors or residents that includes these benefits:

  • Up to 100% financing
  • No monthly PMI
  • Favorable repayment terms

Who Qualifies for it?

Eligible professions include Residents, MD, DDS, DMD,OD, DPM and DO

Credit Score

Depends on debt-to-income ratio and lender programs

Down Payment

Varies with each lender program

Mortgage Insurance

Usually not required, which makes this such an attractive option over FHA loans for many physicians

Physican Loan limits

Varies with each lender program

How to get an Physician Loan

Below is a list of all the lending institutions that offer some sort of loan program for physicians. You can learn more about each program by either contacting us or the bank directly. 

Bank of America                       Fifth Third BankSuntrust Bank
Citizens BankRegions BankEverBank Home Loans
BBVA Compass BankCharter One Bank


Take Credit MCC Program

What is it?

TAKE CREDIT is a Mortgage Credit Certificate or “MCC” program provided by the THDA. The great thing about Take Credit is that it is not a loan and does not need to be paid back. Eligible buyers can receive a federal tax credit up to a maximum of $2,000 per year, which is determined by the amount of mortgage interest paid on the home. In other words, this program can help lower the amount of federal taxes you owe by up to $2,000!

Who Qualifies?

A homebuyer may be eligible for TAKE CREDIT if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The property being purchased must be the home buyer’s primary residence and it must be located in the state of Tennessee
  • The homebuyer is a first time homebuyer, is an honorably discharged U.S. military veteran, has not owned a home in the last three years, or buys a home in a neighborhood listed as “targeted areas”.
  • The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence
  • The household income falls within the income limits for the county in which the primary residence is purchased. You can see the full list of income and purchase price limits here.
  • A Homebuyer Education course must be completed. Your lender should have more information regarding this. 
  • The Take Credit MCC can not be used with a THDA mortgage loan

Click Here to View the full list of Targeted Areas



Great Choice Home Loan

What is it?

The Great Choice Home Loan program is a program for first time homebuyers who may not have enough money for a down payment and buyers who are worried about their credit scores. The loan is usually insured by either the FHA or USDA.

Minimum Credit Score
You must have at least a 640 credit score to qualify for this loan. This includes any co-borrowers for the property. 

Income limits

To be eligible for the Great Choice Home Loan program, your income must be below the county limits.

Home Loan Limits 

Just as with the income limits, there is a limit for the maximum purchase price of a home. View the list of loan limits by county.

Down Payment

The minimum down payment under this program is 3.5% of the amount being financed for the home. However, financial assistance is available for any of the costs associated with the loan, like down payments or closing costs. 

HHF-DPA (Hardest Hit Fund Down Payment Assistance)

If you’re purchasing a home with a Great Choice Home Loan in one of the participating ZIP Codes, you could qualify for the HHF-DPA program.  This allows for $15,000 in assistance regardless of the homes purchase price of the home you are buying.

Participating ZIP Codes:



Homeownership for the Brave

What is it?

Homeownership for the Brave is a specific type of Great Choice Home Loan for only military or veterans. It includes reduced interest rates by half a percent and it waives the requirement that you have to be a first time home buyer. VA (borrow up to 100%) or FHA loans (borrow up to 96.5%) can be used with this program


Who Qualifies for it?

  • Active duty service members as well as National Guard
  • Veterans (so long as they have not been dishonorably discharged)
  • Reservists with at least 180 days of active duty service
  • Spouses of qualified service members, reservists, and veterans

Mortgage Insurance

Not necessary if using a VA loan.

Loan limits

VA loan limits apply



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