Nebraska First-Time Homebuyer Programs

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Updated on Monday, April 1, 2019

Are you a first-time homebuyer looking to purchase in the Cornhusker State? If so, Nebraska has multiple statewide programs to help you realize your homeownership dreams.

From assistance with the down payment to low interest rates that will help stretch your purchasing dollars, these programs aim to meet common roadblocks new homebuyers often face.

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Read on for details about Nebraska programs available to first-time homebuyers.

Nebraska first-time homebuyer programs

Two agencies in Nebraska have programs for first-time buyers. The Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA) offers four programs, which include down payment and closing cost assistance, financing for military personnel and low-interest-rate mortgages. The Northern Ponca Housing Authority (NPHA) provides down payment and closing cost assistance specifically to members of Native American tribes who reside in select areas of the state.

To qualify for any of the programs, you must be a Nebraska resident. In most cases, first-time buyer status is required; buyers who have not owned a home in the last three years are also eligible.

The programs offered by both NIFA and NPHA target Nebraskans in low- to moderate-income households. As a result, all the programs have income restrictions, dependent on family size and the county in which you live.

First Home Plus Program

With this NIFA program, buyers can choose between multiple loan options.

What is it?

  • A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with the option of a conventional loan, an FHA loan and a USDA loan.
  • Low mortgage insurance premiums on conventional loans.
  • Offers competitive interest rates.
  • Low or no down payment required.

Requirements

  • Open to first-time buyers or previous buyers who have not owned in the past three years.
  • Minimum credit score of 640.
  • Income must fall within programs limits. Maximum household income limits range from $74,900 to $95,200, depending on county and family size. Limits for “target areas” range from $89,880 to $114,240.Target areas are specific areas identified by the federal government as economically distressed. Adams, Douglas, Jefferson, Lancaster and Scotts Bluff counties all have target areas. Use NIFA’s interactive map to determine whether or not a specific home is inside a target area.
  • Purchase price must be under program limits. Maximum purchase price limits are as follows:
    Non-Target area

    • Single-family: $250,000
    • Two-family: $320,000
    • Three-family: $390,000
    • Four-family: $480,000

    Target area

    • Single-family: $300,000
    • Two-family: $345,000
    • Three-family: $475,000
    • Four-family: $590,000
  • Maximum total debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of 45% (50% DTI allowed for borrowers with a credit score of 660 or higher. Exceptions made for borrowers whose loans are manually underwritten or who do not have credit scores.)
  • Must complete an approved homebuyer education class in-person or online.
  • Two-, three- and four-unit properties must be at least five years old. (Exceptions made for duplexes in target areas.)
  • Must occupy the home as your primary residence within 60 days.

How to apply

To apply to the First Home Plus Program, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Check your eligibility on NIFA’s website. If you meet the requirements, you will receive a NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.
  2. Find a participating NIFA lender in your area to begin the preapproval process. (You will need to provide the lender with your NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.)
  3. Take one of NIFA’s approved homebuyer education courses.
  4. Work with a real estate professional to find a property.
  5. Once you identify a property, you can submit your full application for approval.

Military Home Program

In NIFA’s Military Home Program, active members of the service and qualified veterans can apply for financing.

What is it?

  • A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with the option of a VA loan, an FHA loan or a USDA loan.
  • Offers competitive interest rates.
  • Low or no down payment required.

Requirements

  • Open to first-time buyers (or previous buyers who have not owned in the past three years) who are actively employed in the military, and to qualified veterans and spouses. (Qualified veterans and spouses do not need to be first-time buyers.)
  • Qualified veterans must submit DD214 Form (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty).
  • Minimum credit score of 640.
  • Income must fall within programs limits. Maximum household income limits range from $74,900 to $95,200, depending on county and family size. Limits for target areas range from $89,880 to $114,240.
  • Purchase price must be under program limits. Maximum purchase price limits are as follows:
    Non-Target area

    • Single-family: $250,000
    • Two-family: $320,000
    • Three-family: $390,000
    • Four-family: $480,000

    Target area

    • Single-family: $300,000
    • Two-family: $345,000
    • Three-family: $475,000
    • Four-family: $590,000
  • Maximum total DTI of 45% (50% DTI allowed for borrowers with a credit score of 660 or higher. Exceptions made for borrowers whose loans are manually underwritten or who do not have credit scores).
  • Must complete an approved homebuyer education class in-person or online.
  • Two-, three- and four-unit properties must be at least five years old. (Exceptions made for duplexes in target areas.)
  • Must occupy the home as your primary residence within 60 days.

How to apply

To apply for NIFA’s Military Home Program, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Check your eligibility on NIFA’s website. If you meet the requirements, you will receive a NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.
  2. Find a participating NIFA lender in your area to begin the preapproval process. (You will need to provide the lender with your NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.)
  3. Take one of NIFA’s approved homebuyer education courses.
  4. Work with a real estate professional to find a property.
  5. Once you identify a property, you can submit your full application for approval.

First Home Targeted Program

With this NIFA program, you can purchase a home in one of Nebraska’s target areas.

What is it?

  • A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with options including conventional, FHA and USDA loans.
  • Offers low mortgage insurance premiums on conventional loans.
  • Offers competitive interest rates.
  • Low or no down payment required.

Requirements

  • Open to any buyer purchasing a home in a target area.
  • Minimum credit score of 640.
  • Income must fall within programs limits. Maximum household income limits range from $89,880 to $114,240, depending on county and family size.
  • Purchase price must be under program limits. Maximum purchase price limits are as follows:
    • Single-family: $300,000
    • Two-family: $345,000
    • Three-family: $475,000
    • Four-family: $590,000
  • Maximum total DTI of 45% (50% DTI allowed for borrowers with a credit score of 660 or higher. Exceptions made for borrowers whose loans are manually underwritten or who do not have credit scores).
  • Must complete an approved homebuyer education class in-person or online.
  • Two-, three- and four-unit properties must be at least five years old. (Exceptions made for duplexes in target areas.)
  • Must occupy the home as your primary residence within 60 days.

How to apply

To apply to the First Home Targeted Program, complete the following steps:

  1. Check your eligibility on NIFA’s website. If you meet the requirements, you will receive a NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.
  2. Find a participating NIFA lender in your area to begin the preapproval process. (You will need to provide the lender with your NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.)
  3. Take one of NIFA’s approved homebuyer education courses.
  4. Work with a real estate professional to find a property.
  5. Once you identify a property, you can submit your full application for approval.

Homebuyer Assistance Program

This NIFA program helps buyers with financing and provides down payment and closing cost assistance.

What is it?

  • A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with options including conventional, FHA, VA and USDA loans.
  • Offers low interest rates.
  • Down payment or closing cost assistance of up to 5% of purchase price via a 10-year second mortgage at 1% interest.

Requirements

  • Open to first-time buyers or previous buyers who have not owned in the past three years.
  • Minimum credit score of 640.
  • Income must fall within programs limits. Maximum household income limits range from $74,900 to $95,200, depending on county and family size. Limits for target areas range from $89,880 to $114,240.
  • Purchase price must be under program limits. Maximum purchase price limits are as follows:
    Non-Target area

    • Single-family: $250,000
    • Two-family: $320,000
    • Three-family: $390,000
    • Four-family: $480,000

    Target area

    • Single-family: $300,000
    • Two-family: $345,000
    • Three-family: $475,000
    • Four-family: $590,000
  • Maximum total DTI of 45% (50% DTI allowed for borrowers with a credit score of 660 or higher. Exceptions made for borrowers whose loans are manually underwritten or who do not have credit scores).
  • You must contribute a minimum of $1,000.
  • Must complete an approved homebuyer education class in-person or online
  • Two-, three- and four-unit properties must be at least five years old. (Exceptions made for duplexes in target areas.)
  • Must occupy the home as your primary residence within 60 days.

How to apply

To apply for the Homebuyer Assistance Program, complete the following steps:

  1. Check your eligibility on NIFA’s website. If you meet the requirements, you will receive a NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.
  2. Find a participating NIFA lender in your area to begin the preapproval process. (You will need to provide the lender with your NIFA Homebuyer Certificate.)
  3. Take one of NIFA’s approved homebuyer education courses.
  4. Work with a real estate professional to find a property.
  5. Once you identify a property, you can submit your full application for approval.

NPHA Down Payment Assistance Program

The Northern Ponca Housing Authority offers eligible applicants help with their down payment and closing costs.

What is it?

  • Down payment assistance (DPA) via a forgivable 0% interest second mortgage with no monthly payments.
  • A portion of the DPA can be used for closing costs.
  • Up to 25% of down payment assistance can be used toward the rehabilitation of the property.

Requirements

  • Must be a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe.
  • Income must fall within established limits, based on the higher of county or federal HUD limit for low-income families.
  • Purchase price must be within program limits, based on HUD Total Development Cost (TDC) limit.
  • Must satisfy the credit requirements of the first mortgage lender.
  • Must take an NHPA-approved homebuyer education class.
  • Must occupy the home as your primary residence.
  • The home must be located within NPHA’s service area.
  • Property must be a single-family home. (Condos, townhouses and modular homes are eligible, but mobile homes without a permanent foundation are not.)

How to apply

Interested applicants apply directly to NPHA. You will need to submit a completed application, required documentation and a Homebuyer Education Certificate.

The program is operated on a first-come, first-served basis with preference given to applicants enrolled in the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.

For more information, contact NPHA at (402) 379-8224 or (800) 367-2320.

National first-time homebuyer programs

As a new buyer, it’s crucial that you explore all your financing options to ensure you are buying a home on the most affordable terms.

In addition to the state programs we highlighted here, there are other financing options on the national level that can help new buyers purchase their homes.

FHA, VA and USDA loans all have features that appeal to new buyers. Additionally, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offer programs that tout low down payments and other favorable terms. For details on these and other programs available, check out LendingTree’s guide to first-time homebuyer programs. (LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.)

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