Wisconsin First-Time Homebuyer Programs

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Updated on Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Intro

Buying your first home in Wisconsin means settling down in the land of the Green Bay Packers, brats and cheese curds. It also means you’re buying in a state that has a plethora of programs to make the homebuying process easier on first-time homebuyers.

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Wisconsin first-time homebuyer programs

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, better known as WHEDA, has been helping homebuyers in the state since it was created in 1972. The agency has been able to fund more than $8 billion in mortgage loans since its inception, and it’s the place Wisconsin buyers can turn for help with everything from down payment assistance to funding for renovations. Find out if your income, your job or even your chosen home might help you qualify.

WHEDA Advantage Conventional – Home Loan

What is it?

  • A 30-year fixed-interest-rate home loan
  • A loan that provides down payment and closing cost assistance

Requirements

  • Open to first-time and repeat homebuyers.
  • Buyers must have a combined household income below loan limits. Limits range from $85,905 to $127,305, depending on location within the state and number of residents in the home.
  • Limited to single-family homes and duplexes.
  • Buyers must complete homebuyer education courses. If buying a duplex, landlord education is also required.
  • Buyers must live in the home as a primary residence.
  • Loans cannot exceed $484,350.

How to apply

This conventional loan allows buyers with moderate incomes to make homeownership a reality. If you think you might qualify, gather your paperwork and contact a WHEDA-approved lender for the next steps.

Advantage Conventional HomeStyle® Renovation

What is it?

  • A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
  • A loan that combines both purchase and home renovation costs into one mortgage.

Requirements

  • Buyers must be able to meet the income limits of the WHEDA conventional loan. These household income limits range from $85,905 to $127,305, depending on location within the state and number of residents in the home.
  • Renovations need to be completed within six months of purchase.
  • Owners must occupy the home after renovations.

How to apply

Combining the WHEDA conventional loan and a renovation loan into just one mortgage makes the Advantage Conventional HomeStyle® Renovation loan perfect if you’re eyeing a fixer-upper but don’t have the money on hand to shell out for repairs. Because it’s packaged with the WHEDA conventional loan, you can even check with the same lenders to find out how to qualify.

First Time Home Buyer (FTHB) Advantage

What is it?

  • A fixed-interest-rate mortgage with lower rates than a conventional loan

Requirements

  • The FTHB loan is limited to first-time homebuyers and U.S. military veterans in most of the state. Repeat homebuyers may be eligible in certain targeted areas, including Ashland, Juneau, Barron, Marinette, Bayfield Marquette, Burnett, Oconto, Clark, Rusk, Crawford, Sawyer, Iron, Trempealeau, and Jackson counties as well as the municipalities of Augusta, Clear Lake and LaFarge. Repeat homebuyers may also be eligible in some areas of the following cities: Beloit, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Janesville, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Waukesha, Sheboygan, Wausau and Superior.
  • Buyers must have a combined household income beneath loan limits. Limits range from $74,700 to $108,220 (slightly higher for Madison), depending on family size and location of the property.
  • Homebuyer education course required.
  • Homes are subject to maximum loan limits. These range depending on location of the property from $271,164 for a single-family home to $424,329 for a two- to four-unit dwelling.

How to apply

Once you’ve got your income paperwork in order, you can check with a WHEDA-approved lender to find out if you might qualify for the FHTB loan. Be aware they’ll require proof of income as well as veteran status (if you are one).

Veterans Affordable Loan Opportunity Rate (VALOR)

What is it?

  • A fixed-rate mortgage priced below the conventional WHEDA Advantage market rate for eligible veterans
  • A loan that offers reduced interest rates

Requirements

  • Buyers must be veterans of the U.S. military who received an honorable discharge or release.
  • Buyers must have a combined household income beneath loan limits. Limits range from $74,700 to $108,220 (slightly higher for Madison), depending on family size and location of the property.
  • First-time buyers will need to complete a homebuyer education class.
  • Homes are subject to loan limits, which range from $271,164 for a single-family home to $424,329 for a two- to four-unit property, depending on location.

How to apply

Money for the VALOR loan is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you think you might qualify, start making calls sooner rather than later! The VALOR program is backed by WHEDA, so you’ll need to talk to one of their preferred lenders about qualifying.

WHEDA Tax Advantage

What is it?

  • A program designed to provide tax credits of 25% to 40% of annual mortgage interest (limited to a maximum tax credit of $2,000 over the life of the loan)

Requirements

  • Open to first-time buyers and veterans as well as repeat buyers in certain targeted areas.
  • Limited to interest on the mortgage of a primary residence
  • Eligible homes include single-family homes, duplexes that are more than five years old and condominiums

How to apply

This tax credit program doesn’t supply money at purchase time, but it can help buyers come April when they’re filing their income taxes. Open to many WHEDA loan users as well as other Wisconsin homebuyers who have a qualifying loan, taking advantage of the tax program requires talking to a WHEDA-certified lender to find out if you qualify.

Capital Access Advantage – Down Payment Assistance

What is it?

  • Down payment assistance that comes in the form of a second mortgage
  • The loan offers a 0%-interest rate and deferred payments

Requirements

  • Open only to buyers already using a WHEDA Advantage loan
  • Income and purchase-price guidelines apply, but vary depending on loan type.

How to apply

This down payment assistance program comes in the form of a second mortgage with no monthly payments, making it easier for buyers who don’t have much in savings to put off paying until they’ve been able to save some cash. Funds on the 0%-interest loan aren’t due until the first mortgage is paid in full. To find out if you qualify, check with a WHEDA-approved lender.

Easy Close Advantage – Down Payment Assistance

What is it?

  • A low-cost, 10-year fixed-rate loan that offers down payment and closing cost assistance

Requirements

  • Open only to buyers already using a WHEDA Advantage loan
  • Income and purchase-price guidelines apply, but vary depending on loan type.

How to apply

Buyers have 10 years to pay off their down payment and closing cost assistance with this program. It must be paired with a WHEDA Advantage loan, so check with a WHEDA-approved lender to find out if you qualify.

National first-time homebuyer programs

The host of options available from WHEDA may be just enough to help you get a new home in Wisconsin, but they’re not the only sources out there. Wisconsin buyers can also turn to first-time homebuyer programs available on a national level. Some, like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, are even offered by WHEDA. Find out more about the national programs that might help you buy your first home.

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