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Is Down Payment Assistance Available for FHA Loans?

Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offer flexibility that doesn’t demand perfection. This makes FHA loans a great choice if you’re working on your credit or have had some bumps in the road. They also permit low down payments as little as 3.5%.

Despite the lower down payment, securing the necessary funds can still be challenging. If you can manage the monthly payments but struggle with the upfront costs, down payment assistance on FHA loans might be an option worth exploring.

Is Down Payment Assistance Available for FHA Loans?

The down payment requirements for an FHA loan vary based on your qualifying credit score. If your median credit score falls between 500 – 579, a 10% down payment is necessary. However, most lenders, such as Rocket Mortgage®, mandate a median FICO® Score of at least 580. With a score of 580 or higher, the minimum down payment shrinks to 3.5% of the purchase price.

Home buyers with FHA-backed mortgages can qualify for and utilize down payment assistance for their purchase. Nonetheless, the FHA itself does not provide this program directly to borrowers.

FHA loans present a route to affordable housing, and down payment assistance can help advance this goal.

Exploring the FHA Loan Down Payment Assistance

To access a down payment assistance (DPA) program alongside an FHA loan, you must seek approval from a third-party organization. Once you meet their criteria, the organization can grant you the assistance. This assistance can then be utilized towards your down payment and closing expenses for an FHA loan.

Numerous DPA programs aim to create equity for specific home buyer demographics, like first-time buyers. During the application process, it’s crucial to carefully review the stipulated requirements.

Requirements For FHA Down Payment Assistance

Typically, DPA programs come with distinct qualification prerequisites such as:

  • First Time Home Buyer: To qualify as a first-time home buyer, you don’t necessarily have to be purchasing a home for the first time. Program criteria can differ, but typically, being a first-time buyer means not owning residential property in the 3 years leading up to your closing date. The FHA may waive this rule in certain cases, like if your previous home wasn’t on a permanent foundation or didn’t meet building codes. Exceptions also apply for single parents or displaced homemakers who co-owned a home with a spouse previously.
  • Credit Score: Numerous programs may necessitate a specific minimum credit score for eligibility. This criterion might differ from the credit score requisites set by the FHA.
  • Household Income: Since numerous programs cater to borrowers with low or moderate incomes, you may need to provide income details. This documentation encompasses items your lender might already request, such as pay stubs, W-2s, 1099s, tax returns, or bank statements.
  • Homeownership Courses: These courses often necessitate completion to prepare you for the complexities of home buying and ownership. It is crucial to review the requirements meticulously as you may need to complete a specific course or one with particular certification.
  • Lender criteria: Apart from those stipulated by your DPA provider, lenders also impose their own set of guidelines regarding the type of assistance they will or will not endorse and from whom. For instance, several lenders, such as Rocket Mortgage, do not approve DPAs where the provider’s lien takes priority over the lender’s mortgage. Additionally, we do not engage with schemes that necessitate our role as a participating lender.
  • FHA regulations: FHA stipulates that approved nonprofits must provide any second-lien-required down payment assistance.

While termed as down payment assistance, the funds can also serve to offset closing costs. This is crucial as these costs often vary from 3% to 6% of the total purchase price.

Different FHA Down Payment Assistance Programs and Loans

Numerous varieties of down payment assistance are available to support home purchases. It’s important to note that certain lenders, like Rocket Mortgage, may not approve all DPA options. Consulting a Home Loan Expert is advisable to ascertain accepted forms of assistance. Here are some prevalent types of aid:

  • Grants: A grant is money given without the obligation of repayment. It is often perceived as the most appealing option since it’s a gift if your application gets approved.
  • Loans: Another option is a Down Payment Assistance (DPA) loan, which functions as a second mortgage. The repayment of this assistance varies depending on the loan type. Some DPAs can be completely forgiven if certain conditions are met, such as residing in the home as your primary residence for a specified number of years or working for an employer for a set duration. Loans that are not entirely forgiven must be repaid eventually, often triggered by paying off the house, refinancing, or selling it. A DPA classified as a deferred loan requires immediate payments to commence the repayment process.
  • Matched savings: These programs entail an entity matching the savings of home buyers, usually up to a specified limit. These programs are commonly administered by state or local housing finance agencies. It’s important to note that Rocket Mortgage does not accommodate these funds.

Where to Find Down Payment Assistance for an FHA Loan?

To get help with down payments, reach out to a local mortgage broker. Seek advice on finding providers in your area and ensure to inquire about accepted programs and sources of down payment assistance (DPA). The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages a nonprofit directory that can be referenced for further assistance.

Local Programs

Begin your search at the city, county, and state levels. While we do not accept DPA from state housing finance agencies, we are open to second lien assistance from municipalities. Keep in mind that grants are also a viable option.

HUD Database

HUD not only lists approved nonprofits but also curates a state-level home buying resource directory. This directory encompasses DPA options and various other resources, though the programs differ based on your location.


Banks, credit unions, and online lenders often provide loans for down payments, but remember, this is an additional payment on top of your mortgage and factors into your debt-to-income ratio. Be ready to provide documentation for the loan.

Employer Assistance

You might also receive support from your employer. Typically, these loans are completely forgiven after a designated period of employment. It’s crucial to grasp the terms thoroughly. If not fully forgiven, there could be conditions requiring repayment based on a specific event, or it could be a deferred loan with regular immediate payments.

Key Takeaway

Utilize down payment assistance to cover the costs linked with an FHA loan, such as the down payment and closing expenses. While numerous programs target first-time home buyers, it’s important to note the array of options available to support underserved borrowers across different categories.

Down payment assistance manifests in various forms; it could be a grant with no repayment obligation, or forgivable based on specific conditions. Conversely, some programs necessitate repayment under certain circumstances. For instance, a deferred DPA loan involves periodic payments commencing immediately.

Equipped with insights into your DPA choices, embark on the mortgage journey with assurance and clarity!


Picture of Reed Letson

Reed Letson

Reed offers two decades of expertise as a mortgage broker, focusing on veterans and first-time home buyers. With a strong grasp of real estate and mortgage markets, he empowers clients with practical insights. Reed's passion is guiding clients to build wealth through real estate investments and financing solutions.

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