Ohio First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Updated on Monday, April 1, 2019

Intro

Ohio has a diverse landscape, including the broad Ohio River, large cities like Columbus and Cincinnati, as well as rural areas — which are home to 20% of the state’s residents. If you’d like to buy your first home here, there’s good news: The Buckeye State operates multiple programs offering financial help for first-time homebuyers. Through them you can tap affordable mortgages, assistance with down payments and closing costs, a mortgage tax credit and more.

See Mortgage Rate Quotes for Your Home

See RatesSee RatesSee RatesTerms Apply. NMLS ID# 1136

By clicking “See Rates”, you will be directed to LendingTree. Based on your creditworthiness, you may be matched with up to five different lenders in our partner network.

In February 2019, we researched first-time homebuyer programs across the state. This includes a review of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency website, specific assistance programs and other state resources.

Ohio first-time homebuyer programs

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) is the public agency that administers statewide programs that help first-time homebuyers. You may be able to use more than one OHFA program, such as combining down payment and closing cost assistance with a mortgage interest tax credit.

Each program has its own eligibility requirements, which are detailed below. But all require that first-time buyers be state residents and take a homeowner education course if you plan to ask for mortgage or down payment help.

Requirements for Ohio assistance

To participate in OHFA assistance, you must satisfy all of the following conditions:

OHFA First-Time Homebuyer

What is it?

  • Thirty-year, fixed rate FHA, VA, USDA-RD and conventional mortgages
  • Income and purchase price limits targeted especially at low- and moderate-income homebuyers
  • Loan may be combined with other OHFA programs such as tax credits, down payment assistance and more

Requirements

  • You must not have owned a primary home for the last three years; and/or you must be a veteran; and/or you must be buying a home in a target geographic area
  • You must not exceed income requirements, which vary by county and family size
  • The home you’re buying must not cost more than purchase price limits, which also vary by county and family size
  • You must satisfy credit score requirements according to mortgage type:
    • Conventional, USDA, VA, and FHA 203(k) loans: 640 or higher
    • FHA loans: 660 or higher; scores in the 650-659 range are permissible but incur an added fee
  • You must satisfy debt-to-income ratio requirements for your loan type
  • Buyers must complete free homebuyer education available via OHFA

How to apply

Your first step is to use the OHFA county search tool, which will display income limits and purchase price limits for the Ohio county where you’re looking. If you believe you fit the criteria, use that same tool to find an OHFA-approved lender for next steps. They’ll help you start the loan application process. Once that’s underway, you must enroll in a free homebuyer education course.

Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance

What is it?

  • Assistance in the amount of 2.5% or 5% of the home’s purchase price to be used for a down payment, closing costs or pre-closing expenses
  • Assistance is forgiven after seven years; buyers who sell within seven years must repay all of the assistance provided

Requirements

  • You must not exceed income requirements, which vary by county and family size
  • The home you’re buying must not cost more than purchase price limits, which also vary by county and family size
  • You must satisfy credit score requirements according to mortgage type:
    • Conventional, USDA, VA, and FHA 203(k) loans: 640 or higher
    • FHA loans: 660 or higher; scores in the 650-659 range are permissible but incur an added fee
  • You must satisfy debt-to-income ratio requirements for your loan type
  • Most buyers must complete free homebuyer education available via OHFA

How to apply

Your first step is to use the OHFA county search tool, which will display income limits and purchase price limits for the Ohio county where you’re looking. If you believe you fit the criteria, use that same tool to find an OHFA-approved lender for next steps. The lender will help you start the loan application process. Once that’s underway, you must enroll in a free homebuyer education course.

Grants for Grads

What is it?

The OHFA offers incentives to recent college graduates to buy a home and stay in Ohio for at least five years.

  • A mortgage with a discounted interest rate
  • Plus, down payment assistance of 2.5% or 5% of a home’s purchase price
  • Assistance is a grant, but you must repay part or all of it if you sell your home and leave Ohio within five years.

Requirements

In order to be eligible for the Grants for Grads program, you must

  • Be a recent college graduate
  • Not have owned a home in the past three years
  • Satisfy income requirements, which vary by county and family size
  • Buy within purchase price limits
  • Satisfy credit score requirements, according to mortgage type:
    • Conventional, USDA, VA, and FHA 203(k): 640 or higher
    • FHA Loans: 660 or higher; scores in the 650-659 range are permissible but incur an added fee
  • Satisfy debt-to-income ratio requirements for your loan type
  • Complete free homebuyer education available via OHFA

How to apply

To get started, use the OHFA county search tool to find out income and purchase price limits for the Ohio county where you’re looking. If you believe you fit the criteria, use that same tool to find an OHFA-approved lender for next steps. The lender will help you apply and work with you through the lending process.

OHFA Advantage

What is it?

  • A grant to be used for down payment or closing costs
  • If your income is at or below 80% of area median income for your county, $1,500 is available
  • If your income is at or below 50% of area median income for your county, $2,500 is available
  • The program can be combined with Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance

Requirements

  • In order to be eligible for the Grants for Grads program, you must
  • Have graduated from an accredited college or university within the last 48 months
  • Have a credit score of 640 or higher
  • Not make more than income limits, which vary by county and family size
  • Meet debt-to-income ratio requirements for your loan type
  • Attend a free homebuyer education course

How it works

Your first step is to use the county search tool, which will display income limits and purchase price limits for different Ohio counties. If you believe you qualify, use that same tool to find an OHFA-approved lender. The lender will work with you to apply. Once the loan application process is underway, you must enroll in a free homebuyer education course.

Mortgage Tax Credit

What is it?

  • A tax credit on mortgage interest, which reduces your federal tax liability every year.
  • There are two programs:
  • Mortgage Tax Credit Plus program:
    • You must use the tax credit with a loan through OHFA’s First-Time Homebuyer Program.
    • The tax credit is for up to 40% of your annual mortgage interest (maximum credit of $2,000).
  • Mortgage Tax Credit Basic:
    • Works with other types of loans
    • The credit is 30% if you buy a bank-owned property, 25% if you buy a property in a target area; 20% for all other properties.
  • Size of the credit varies by property type and location

Requirements

In order to be eligible for the Mortgage Tax Credit program, you must

  • Not have owned a home in the past three years
  • Satisfy income requirements, which vary by county and family size
  • Buy within purchase price limits
  • Satisfy credit score requirements, according to mortgage type:
    • Conventional, USDA, VA, and FHA 203(k): 640 or higher
    • FHA Loans: 660 or higher; scores in the 650-659 range are permissible but incur an added fee
  • Satisfy debt-to-income ratio requirements for your loan type
  • Complete free homebuyer education available via OHFA

How to apply

Once you’ve looked up the income and purchase price limits for the county where you want to buy a home, get in touch with an OHFA-approved lender. A lender can determine whether you qualify you for the tax credit and explain how it will function. Once the loan application process is underway, you must enroll in a free homebuyer education course.

Ohio Heroes

What is it?

Ohio Heroes is intended to help residents who serve the public buy their first homes.

  • Discounted mortgage rates
  • May be combined with down payment assistance

Eligibility

  • You must meet one of these professional requirements:
    • You work full-time as a reservist or are a veteran of the armed forces or are the surviving spouse of a service member.
    • You are a police officer, paid or volunteer firefighter, EMT or paramedic
    • You are a physician, nurse, nurse practitioner or STNA
    • You teach pre-K, K-12 or are a school administrator or counselor
  • You must not have owned a home in the past three years
  • You must satisfy income and purchase price requirements, which vary by county and family size
  • You must satisfy credit score requirements, according to mortgage type:
    • Conventional, USDA, VA, and FHA 203(K) loans: 640 or higher
    • FHA Loans: 660 or higher; scores in the 650-659 range are permissible but incur an added fee
  • You must meet debt-to-income ratio requirements for your loan type
  • You must complete free homebuyer education available via OHFA

How to apply

If you believe you fit income and purchase price criteria, contact an OHFA-approved lender for next steps. A lender can explain whether you’re eligible for the Ohio Heroes mortgage rates. They’ll also help you apply for the program. Once the loan application is underway, you must enroll in a free homebuyer education course.

RenovateOhio

What is it?

  • An FHA 203(k) loan for both the home and renovation costs in a single mortgage
  • A long-term, fixed rate mortgage

Requirements

  • The property must
    • Be at least one year old at the time of purchase
    • Be a single-family or multi-unit home, up to a four-plex
  • You must:
    • Not have owned a home in the past three years
    • Satisfy income and property purchase price requirements, which vary by county and family size
    • Have a credit score of 640 or higher
    • Satisfy debt-to-income ratio requirements for an FHA 203(k) loan
    • Complete free homebuyer education available via OHFA

How to apply

First, use the county search tool to look up income and purchase price limits for the Ohio county where you’re looking for a home. If you believe you fit the criteria, contact an OHFA-approved lender for the next steps, which will include starting the loan application process. A lender can explain whether your borrowing profile fits for the RenovateOhio mortgage. Once the loan application is underway, you must enroll in a free homebuyer education course.

National assistance

If Ohio’s homebuying assistance options are not right for you, consider tapping into other loan programs that may financially help you buy a home. These include loans through national agencies such as the FHA, USDA, VA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. For more details about the benefits and the variety of national programs for first-time buyers, check out this LendingTree guide. (LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.)