Georgia First-Time Homebuyer Programs

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Updated on Thursday, February 21, 2019

If you’re looking to purchase your first home, you may have already encountered some of the challenges new buyers frequently face. These range from saving up a down payment to qualifying for financing to coming up with funds for closing costs.

Fortunately, in Georgia, there is a handful of state-specific programs that address these and other needs. In this guide, we’ll highlight Georgia programs available to first-time homebuyers.

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Georgia first-time homebuyer programs

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) offers four programs within the state. These programs aim to meet the needs of low- to moderate-income homebuyers. Because of that, they have both income and purchase price restrictions. DCA partners with area lenders who originate the loans.

Eligibility for Georgia assistance

To qualify for any of the state’s programs, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your household income must be within program limits, which range between $64,000 and $87,500, depending on family size and county.
  • The purchase price cannot exceed $200,000 or $250,000, depending on the county.
  • Your total liquid assets may not exceed $20,000 or 20% of the purchase price (whichever is greater).
  • You must attend an approved homebuyer education course, workshop or individual counseling sessions.
  • The property must be your principal residence.
  • Additional criteria may apply, depending on program.

Georgia Dream Homeownership Program

The Georgia Dream Homeownership Program offers residents affordable mortgage rates and down payment assistance options.

Features

  • Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages (FHA, VA, USDA or conventional)
  • Up to $5,000 in down payment assistance, if eligible
  • Low interest rates

Eligibility

  • Open to first-time homebuyers, borrowers who have not owned property in the past three years or buyers purchasing a home in a targeted area (specific areas designated to be in economic distress).
  • Must put down at least $1,000 if receiving down payment assistance.
  • Subject to additional lender requirements.

How it works

To apply for a Georgia Dream Homeownership loan, find an approved lender on the list of participating lenders or by calling 1-800-359-HOME (4663).

The lender will help you determine your eligibility first and then can assist you in getting the application process started.

Georgia Dream Homeownership Program – Protectors, Educators and Nurses Loan (PEN)

Used in conjunction with the main Georgia Dream Homeownership Program, the PEN Loan provides down payment assistance in the form of a second mortgage to borrowers in specific occupations.

Features

  • Up to $7,500 down payment assistance
  • Zero-interest, deferred-payment second mortgage, payable when the property is sold, refinanced or is no longer your primary residence

Eligibility

  • First mortgage must be a Georgia Dream Homeownership loan. (Eligibility requirements for the first loan apply.)
  • Borrower’s employment position must qualify as a protector, educator or health care worker.

How it works

To be eligible for the PEN loan, you must also be pursuing a first mortgage under the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program. To apply, find a lender in your area on the list of participating lenders or by calling 1-800-359-HOME (4663).

Georgia Dream Homeownership Program – Consumer Homeownership & Independence Choices for Everyone Loan (CHOICE)

The CHOICE loan is another down payment assistance option. It’s available for buyers who have a disability or have a disabled dependent living with them.

Features

  • Up to $7,500 down payment assistance
  • Zero-interest, deferred-payment, second mortgage payable when the property is sold, refinanced or is no longer your primary residence

Eligibility

  • First mortgage must be a Georgia Dream Homeownership loan. (Eligibility requirements for the first loan apply.)
  • You or a family member living with you must have a disability.

How it works

To qualify for a CHOICE loan, you must also be pursuing a first mortgage under the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program. To apply, contact a Georgia Dream participating lender in your area online or by calling 1-800-359-HOME (4663).

Georgia Dream Hardest Hit Fund Down Payment Assistance Program (DPA)

Georgia is one of 18 states considered by the government to be the hardest hit by the economic crisis. As such, it has access to federal funds to help retain and stimulate homeownership. With this program, buyers in specific counties can receive a forgivable second mortgage to help with down payment and closing costs while also getting a Georgia Dream first loan.

Features

  • Up to $15,000 toward a down payment and closing cost assistance
  • Zero-interest second mortgage with no monthly payment and forgivable after five years

Eligibility

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer.
  • First mortgage must be a Georgia Dream Homeownership loan: FHA, VA, USDA or conventional loan with an 80% loan-to-value ratio or less. (Eligibility requirements for the first loan apply.)
  • Must have a minimum credit score of 640.
  • Must reside in one of the following counties: Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Muscogee, Douglas, Chatham, or Bibb.
  • Must contribute a minimum of $1,000.
  • Property must be an existing home. (New construction is not eligible.)
  • Must meet Dodd-Frank Certification. (Borrowers cannot have been convicted within the last 10 years of felony larceny, theft, fraud, or forgery; money laundering; or tax evasion.)

How it works

To qualify for the Georgia Dream Hardest Hit Fund DPA, you’ll need to also apply for a first mortgage through the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program. Find a lender on the list of participating lenders in your area or by calling 1-800-359-HOME (4663) to check your eligibility and get started with your application.

National first-time homebuyer programs

In addition to Georgia-specific programs, first-time homebuyers can pursue federal programs aimed at new buyers. Options include loans insured by the FHA, VA or USDA, as well as tax incentives. Additionally, Habitat for Humanity may offer assistance in your area.

Review LendingTree’s guide to first-time homebuyer programs for details on national programs that can help you take one step closer to homeownership.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.

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