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These statewide programs will help you achieve an affordable home with a low-interest mortgage, advantageous down payment, exciting grants, and more. Especially, first time home buyer in Ohio, you will find them helpful. Hanfincal will walk you through each program in this post.

1. Ohio First Time Home Buyer Programs

1.1. 1st-Time Homebuyer Programs

1st-Time Homebuyer Programs

1st-Time Homebuyer Programs

Discovering the best first-time home buyer programs in Ohio can be daunting. That’s why it’s rare to see people achieve their dream home with a tight budget without looking for external support. 

If you’re looking for one, we recommend 1st-Time Homebuyer Programs — a service that gives you the best housing advice and pinpoints precisely which homebuyer program is for you. Also, it takes full advantage of statewide programs for you as a first-time home buyer in Ohio or anywhere across the U.S.

Get a new home in Ohio is very easy with a free consultant here!


1.2. Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance

According to the Ohio Housing and Finance Agency (OHFA), qualifying home buyers in Ohio can have a reduction of 2.5% or 5% in their upfront costs under this program. They can apply this plan toward the down payment, closing costs, or pre-closing expenses.

To be eligible for Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance, all applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria:

  • OHFA purchase price limits and income limits vary by county.
  • The credit score is 640 or higher for a conventional, VA, USDA, or FHA 203(k) loan.
  • Applicants must have a minimum credit score of 600 if they finance with an FHA 203(b).
  • A signed Purchase Agreement is required.
  • A homebuyer education course is required. It’s free, yet counted as a completion only until the home buyer’s loan application has been submitted to their loan officer.
  • Eligible properties are existing single-family dwellings, duplexes, conforming condominiums, one- to four-unit, newly built, and modular homes.

1.3. Communities First – Down Payment Assistance

Communities First - Down Payment Assistance

Communities First – Down Payment Assistance

Communities First is a down payment assistance program established by The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority. Here are some highlights of the program that makes it promising for those looking for residents in Ohio:

  • It’s not a second mortgage or a loan; it’s instead a grant.
  • There are few restrictions, especially none on mortgage refinancing or home reselling.
  • You’re moving to YOUR new home with instant equity.
  • There are certain income limits, but it’s based only on the qualified borrower.
  • No unnecessary paperwork; no TRID or documents for the lenders.
  • You’re allowed to be flexible with the down payment assistance options (3, 4, or 5% as of your choice)

What are the requirements?

  • The homebuyer has a minimum FICO credit score of 640 and a debt-to-income of under 45%.
  • He must not exceed the maximum income limit, which is 115% AMI (varying by county)
  • Mortgage types are Conventional, VA, FHA, and Rural Development loans.
  • Eligible properties are single-family condominiums, townhomes, PUDs, and owner-occupied duplexes.

1.4. Ohio Heroes

This program belongs to My Ohio Home, also run by OHFA. It provides a discounted mortgage interest rate to statewide citizens who have served the public. To qualify for it, you must meet the criteria as follow:

  • Your credit score is 640 or higher for Conventional, VA, and USDA loans.
  • You must not exceed the purchase price and income limits which can vary by county or the number of people in your family.
  • You are either an active-duty military member, veteran, police officer, EMT, firefighter, paramedic, volunteer firefighter, physician, nurse practitioner, STNA, nurse, teacher, counselor, or an administrator.
  • You must complete a homebuyer education from OHFA.
Ohio Heroes

Ohio Heroes

1.5. Grants for Grads

Newly graduated first-time home buyers can now have their chance for affordable residents in Ohio with this program. It’s also part of My Ohio Home, run by OHFA. As a graduate subsidized by Grants For Grads, you can achieve: 

  • Discounted mortgage interest rate.
  • Down payment assistance of either 2.5% or 5% is fully forgiven after five years of living in Ohio.

To be eligible, you must conform to the requirements listed below:

  • You haven’t owned a house as your primary residence for the past three years.
  • You stay within the income and purchase price limits.
  • Your credit score is 640 or higher for Conventional, USDA, and VA loans.
  • For FHA loans, your credit score must be 650 or higher.
  • You must meet debt-to-income ratios based on your loan type.
  • As a primary borrower, you must have graduated within the last two years with an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate degree, or a higher post-graduate degree from an authorized university/college.
  • You must finish the OHFA’s homebuyer course. 

1.6. Mortgage Tax Credit

With the Mortgage Tax Credit program from OHFA, you will gain a direct federal tax credit counted on your mortgage interest paid. According to My Ohio Homes official website, it can provide a qualified home buyer with up to $2000 of yearly taxing savings.

It’s a non-refundable credit that adds to IRS home mortgage interest deduction. To be eligible, you must have a tax liability. Also, how much you receive will depend on your the subsidized property’s location and mortgage types:

Mortgage Tax Credit Plus: If you opt for a loan from the First-time Homebuyer Program by OHFA, you’re provided with 40% of the mortgage interest as your tax credit. You can also pair it with a 2.5% down payment assistance. However, the interest rate could be slightly higher under this mortgage type.

Mortgage Tax Credit Basic: This type refers to when you go for a different mortgage choice from the lender. That way, your tax credit is formed by a lower percentage of the mortgage interest rate. Specifically, if you’re buying a bank-owned house, you will get 30%. For some target areas, you’ll receive 25%; otherwise, only 20% for all other properties.

1.7. Other Government First-time Homebuyer Programs

As an Ohio first-time home buyer, it’s important to acknowledge these nationwide government-backed loans. They usually have low credit scores and lenient down payments, making them the first-headed options for first-time home buyers in the U.S.

  • FHA loans — You will benefit a great deal from FHA loans if your credit score falls between 500 and 619 and you have a debt-to-income higher than 50%. To work with OHFA, you must have a minimum credit score of 650 for FHA loans. Also, mortgage insurance is typically required until you refinance, move, or pay off your loan.
  • VA loans — These loans target service members and veterans of the United States. It doesn’t require a down payment and credit score limit. However, OHFA requires the credit score for VA loans to be 640. After closing, you don’t have to buy a mortgage insurance.
  • USDA loans — These loans provide assistance to those with low incomes buying homes in rural areas. No down payment is required, and mortgage insurance rates are low. But income limits exist. To qualify for USDA loans through OHFA, your credit score must be at least 640. 

These loans look simple to comprehend but, it might be hard to know whether you qualify for them. If you want to rely on a third party to verify your eligibility, 1st-Time Homebuyer Programs can help.


2. Local First-time Home Buyers

2.1. First Time Home Buyer Programs Cleveland Ohio

Cuyahoga County established Cleveland’s down payment assistance. It provides home buyers with a deferred loan of up to 10% of the purchase price. If you plan to buy a home valued up to $149,000 in Cleveland, this loan might sit with you. 

Meanwhile, the median home price in Cleveland in April 2022 was $115,000, showing a decrease of 3.4%. With that median price, your down payment could range from $3,450 for a 3% to $23,000 for a 20%

2.2. First Time Home Buyer Programs Columbus Ohio

In Columbus, you can apply for the American Dream Down Payment Initiative — a down payment assistance program offering a five-year deferred loan. Using this loan, there is no need to repay the money as long as you stay in the house without refinancing it within five years. 

The Realtor data shows that the median home price in Columbus in April 2022 was $240,000. That was a leap year over year. So if you wish to have a resident in Columbus as a first-time home buyer, the downpayments options might be $48,000 for 20% and $7,200 for 3%.

2.3. First Time Home Buyer Programs Cincinnati Ohio

Ohio first-time home buyers also consider an American Dream Downpayment Initiative program operated by the City of Cincinnati. It can provide you with up to $5,000 as a deferred loan without interest. Also, your loan will be forgiven after five years.

Based on the figures from Realtor, the median list price in Cincinnati saw a 5% increase year over year. If you want to buy a home there, you should expect the down payments to perform like this: $45,980 for 20% and $6,900 for 3%.

In a nutshell, as a first time home buyer in Ohio, you should look at all programs above to find which one benefits you most. To be eligible, you must be whom the program targets in terms of profession, income, home purchase price, credit scores, and so forth. It can be overwhelming at first, but reaching for financial support should never be a burden. Hanfincal recommends checking out 1st-Time Homebuyer Programs for the best advice if you are unsure about finding mortgage loans and down payments yourself.