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Massachusetts First-Time Homebuyer Programs

If you are a Massachusetts resident looking to buy your first home, you may be wondering what state programs are available to assist you. In January 2019, we researched the most current information on first-time homebuyer programs in Massachusetts, which included reviewing program websites and guidelines from MassHousing, an independent agency originally founded by the state in 1966 to provide financing for making housing more affordable.

Here’s what first-time homebuyers in your state need to know, along with specifics on each assistance program:

Massachusetts first-time homebuyer programs

First-time homebuyer programs are available through MassHousing, Operation Welcome Home, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program. Certain cities offer additional programs, too.

Eligibility for Massachusetts assistance

In order to get state homebuying assistance, borrowers must be first-time buyers who do not exceed household income guidelines.

MassHousing mortgage

Features

  • Affordable, 30-year mortgage
  • Fixed interest rates
  • Down payments as low as 3%
  • Low mortgage insurance

Eligibility

  • Regional income and loan limits apply

Most MassHousing loans carry mortgage insurance, which also comes with MI Plus, MassHousing’s job-loss-protection insurance that helps borrowers make monthly mortgage payments for up to six months in case of a job loss. There is also a loan option that does not require mortgage insurance. To get started, go here.

Buy Cities

Features

  • Competitive, fixed-rate mortgage
  • May be used to finance up to 100% of purchase
  • Either low or no down payment required
  • Low mortgage insurance with payment protection included
  • No points

Eligibility

  • Geographic restrictions apply
  • Income and loan limits apply
  • Borrowers must be creditworthy
  • Total monthly debt can’t exceed 45% of household income

MassHousing’s Buy Cities program offers affordable, low- or no-down-payment mortgage loans toward the purchase of property in these parts of the state: Attleboro, Brockton, Chicopee, Fall River, greater Gardner, Holyoke, New Bedford, Quincy, Southbridge, Springfield, Taunton, Ware, Westfield and Worcester.

Rates and terms for Buy Cities loans are competitive with traditional down payment loans. The program also features MI Plus mortgage insurance with mortgage payment protection in case of a job loss.

MI Plus covers both principal and interest for up to six months, not to exceed $2,000 per month. Benefit amounts are prorated based on borrowers’ incomes at the time of the mortgage application, and the benefit may be used for any six months during the first decade of the mortgage after the first six months of the mortgage have been paid off. Go here to get started.

MassHousing down payment assistance

Features

  • Up to $12,000 in down payment assistance
  • Offered as 15-year loan at 1% fixed rate
  • Low mortgage insurance

Eligibility

MassHousing offers down payment assistance for as much as 3% of a home’s purchase price or a flat $12,000, whichever is less. The assistance is provided as a 15-year, fixed-rate loan. Repayment is due upon sale or refinance of the property before the end of the 15-year term. Assistance is applicable toward homes, condominiums and planned unit developments. To get started, go here.

Home for the Brave

Features

  • Combines a low-cost mortgage with mortgage insurance
  • Closing cost assistance, up to $1,500
  • Low-cost mortgage insurance includes payment protection
  • Down payments as low as 3%

Eligibility

  • Select military and military spouses are eligible
  • Income limits and debt-to-income ratios apply
  • Loan limits may apply

Eligible borrowers include U.S. armed forces veterans, active-duty military and spouses of soldiers, sailors or Marines killed while on active duty. The program combines mortgage funding from Massachusetts community banks and credit unions with MI Plus, the mortgage job loss protection insurance from MassHousing.

Borrowers can get long-term financing for as much as 97% of the loan-to-value ratio of the purchase price or current fair market value of a property for limited cash-out refinances. Eligible veterans get up to $1,500 in closing cost assistance funds. This program extends MI Plus payment benefits for veterans recalled to active duty or who are called up to active duty from the reserves.

To be eligible, you must meet income limits with no more than a 45% debt-to-income ratio. Veterans may be eligible for as much as $1,500 in closing cost assistance, and the funds may be applied toward legal fees, title insurance and other third-party-paid closing costs. Check this site for more information.

MassHousing Mortgage with Rehabilitation

Features

  • Low-cost loans for buying and renovating a property
  • As little as 3% down
  • Up to six months of monthly costs may be financed if property is not livable during renovations
  • Low mortgage insurance available with payment protection

Eligibility

  • Income and loan limits apply
  • Loans available for single-family homes and  2-4 unit properties
  • Not limited to first-time homebuyers
  • Minimum borrower contribution of 3% required

Loans from the MassHousing Mortgage with Rehabilitation program let borrowers buy and renovate a property or, for some borrowers, refinance and renovate. Borrowers must meet income and loan limits, which vary by region, and as much as 50% of the property’s as-completed appraised value can be financed for renovation. Go here to learn more.

Massachusetts Housing Partnership ONE Mortgage

Features

  • Combines a conventional first mortgage with a publicly subsidized second mortgage
  • First mortgage covers as much as 77% of a home’s purchase price after buyer down payment
  • Second mortgage covers remaining 20% of home’s cost
  • Property purchase assistance
  • No private mortgage insurance required

Eligibility

  • Requires a homeownership class
  • Minimum borrower contribution required (3% for most homes, of which 1.5% must come from borrower’s own funds)
  • Income limits apply, and total assets are limited to $75,000
  • Borrowers must use home as a primary residence

The Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s ONE Mortgage Program was founded in response to a 1989 Federal Reserve study that found a pattern of racial bias in mortgage lending. Today, this joint public-private initiative seeks to increase homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers by combining a conventional first mortgage with a publicly subsidized second mortgage.

Eligible borrowers are first-time homebuyers who must also complete a Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative-approved class, as well as contribute a 3% down payment (1.5% of which must come from individual savings). Three-family properties require a down payment of 5% of the purchase price, with at least 3% coming from individual savings.

To qualify for this loan, you must not have more than $75,000 in total household assets, including retirement savings, government-approved college savings plans, and money from either municipal down payment or closing cost assistance programs. Borrowers must use the property as a primary residence for the life of the loan. Check this site to see if you qualify.

Operation Welcome Home

Features

  • Affordable mortgages for active or former members of the military and reserves and Gold Star families
  • Up to 3% of purchase price, or $12,000, in down payment assistance
  • Closing cost assistance, up to $2,500
  • Fixed interest rates
  • Flexible underwriting and income limits
  • Low mortgage insurance

Eligibility

  • Select military and military spouses are eligible
  • Income and loan limits apply
  • First-time homebuyer requirement is waived for purchases in some areas

Operation Welcome Home helps members of the reserves and National Guard, active-duty military, veterans who served honorably and Gold Star families buy and rehabilitate or repair property.

With Operation Welcome Home, you can take advantage of a closing cost credit for up to $2,500 in addition to MassHousing’s down payment assistance program. The loan includes MI Plus mortgage payment protection insurance in case of deployment or unemployment as well as discounted mortgage insurance premiums for eligible borrowers. Both single and monthly mortgage insurance premiums are also available.

To qualify for an Operation Welcome Home loan, you must be a first-time homebuyer who is buying either a single-family home or a 2-4 unit property. You need not be a first-time homebuyer if purchasing in Boston, Chelsea, Cambridge, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn, North Adams or Somerville. Go here for more information.

Town of Easton: Homebuyer Assistance Program

Features

  • Up to $95,000 in grant funding available to assist with purchase

Eligibility

  • Single-family and multi-unit properties both eligible
  • First-time homebuyers and some others, including seniors, may be eligible
  • Preapproval is required
  • Income limits apply

Grants are available for up to $95,000 or 35% of a property’s purchase price, whichever is lower. While homes must be in Easton, buyers need not be current residents. You must already be preapproved for a compatible mortgage.

These grants don’t need to be repaid. However, when purchased through the Homebuyer Assistance Program, homes turn into permanently affordable housing stock and must be sold at a restricted price to a moderate-income buyer. Easton residents can learn more here.

City of Fall River: First Time Homebuyer

Features

  • Down payment and closing cost assistance, up to $10,000
  • Loan accumulates interest at 1% for up to a decade, then converts to a grant

Eligibility

  • Borrower must contribute at least 1.5% of purchase price
  • Income limits apply
  • Home must be principal residence for five to 10 years, depending on amount of assistance provided
  • Borrowers must be creditworthy
  • A homebuyer education course is required
  • Single-family homes and 2-4 unit properties are eligible, as are manufactured or mobile homes, condominiums or cooperatives located in Fall River

This first-time homebuyer assistance program offers down payment and closing cost assistance up to $10,000 or 6% of the property purchase price, whichever is greater. Borrowers must be income-eligible, first-time homebuyers, put up at least 1.5% of the purchase price from their own savings and live in the home as a principal residence during a stated affordability period.

Buyers also need to meet credit guidelines, complete a homebuyer counseling course before closing and get a first mortgage from a qualified lender. Properties must meet HUD Section 8 housing quality standards and pass a visual assessment for lead-based paint. Click here for more information.

City of New Bedford: Neighborhoods First

Features

  • Down payment assistance
  • Closing cost assistance
  • Renovation assistance
  • Gap financing

Eligibility

  • Income limits apply
  • Minimum borrower contribution required
  • Both single-family and 2- and 3-unit properties are eligible

Neighborhoods First offers down payment and closing cost assistance, renovation assistance and gap financing to income-eligible applicants looking to own their first home. Borrowers must meet HUD income limits and provide at least $1,000 of the required down payment from their own funds.

When used for rehabilitation assistance, funds have to go toward correcting substandard conditions and comply with minimum housing quality standards, building codes and state sanitary and health codes. Rehabilitated properties also need to adhere to state and federal lead-based paint statutes. New Bedford residents can learn more here.

City of Newton: Homebuyer Assistance Program

Features

  • Down payment assistance
  • Help with closing costs

Eligibility

  • Subject to affordable housing deed restrictions

The Homebuyer Assistance Program offers down payment and closing cost assistance for borrowers buying deed-restricted properties in Newton. See this site to learn more.

National first-time homebuyer programs

Massachusetts offers a variety of assistance options for first-time homebuyers, but nationwide programs are available, too. To learn more, visit LendingTree’s general guide here. You can also find more information about HUD programs in Massachusetts for homebuyers here.

 

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