First Time Home Buyer Programs in Georgia

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Jan 18, 2024

There’s nothing quite as exciting as buying a home for the first time. Aside from the obvious benefits of homeownership, there are also all the unique pleasures you’ll take from picking the home in Georgia that’s perfect for you.

That being said, it can also be an intimidating prospect. Among other things, it means you have to secure a mortgage and make that initial down payment (plus closing costs in Georgia).

Fortunately, if you’re a first-time home buyer in Georgia, there’s help.

Who Qualifies as a First-Time Home Buyer in Georgia?

A first-time home buyer is anyone who has have never owned a home before or haven’t owned a home in the last 3 years. If you meet either of these requirements, you can apply for any assistance programs below for which you qualify.

So, if you’re thinking about buying a home for the second time, but it’s been close to three years since you’ve owned one, it might be worth waiting. One of the programs below could save you a lot of money on this sizable and important purchase.

8 Programs for First-Time Home Buyers in Georgia

Don’t let the stress of securing a mortgage or saving up for your down payment ruin the excitement of being a first-time homebuyer in Georgia.

Instead, stay focused on all there is to look forward to and just use one of these programs for help with financing.

1. A Conventional Mortgage

Conventional loans are those that lack any sort of guarantee or insurance by the federal government.

For first-time homebuyers in Georgia, conventional loans may allow for down payments as low as 3%. If you’re able to put down 20%, you won’t need mortgage insurance, either. Even if you are required to purchase insurance, you’ll eventually be allowed to cancel it. The same can’t be said for federally-backed mortgages.

However, it generally takes a lot more to qualify for conventional loans in Georgia as private companies don’t enjoy the federal government’s guarantees.

2. FHA Loans

FHA loans are mortgages that are backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

As opposed to conventional mortgages in Georgia, the qualification requirements are much easier for these loans because, again, the federal government is subsidizing and guaranteeing them for the lender. With a credit score of at least 580, you could qualify for an FHA loan and only have to put down 3.5%.

Of course, you will have to pay for mortgage insurance, but most Georgia homeowners would tell you that the cost is negligible for such a great deal on the loan.

3. VA Loans

If you’re a veteran, active service member, or the surviving spouse of someone who served, your best option for a mortgage is probably a VA loan. These are mortgages that are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

You will most likely need a credit score of at least 640, though there isn’t actually an official minimum. However, so long as you qualify, you could receive a loan with very competitive rates and, best of all, no down payment required.

4. USDA Loans

The USDA also backs their own loan. Though it’s only available in certain suburban and rural areas, there’s no actual requirement that you have to be a farmer, rancher, or otherwise an agricultural worker in order to qualify.

As with the VA loans, you’ll have a much easier time qualifying for a USDA loan in Georgia if you have a credit score of at least 640, but there’s no firm requirement.

5. Georgia Dream Program

Georgia has mortgage programs unique to the state, as well.

The umbrella term for these is the Georgia Dream Program. It was designed to help everyone in Georgia achieve their dreams of becoming a homeowner by offering affordable mortgages to people with low or moderate incomes.

Most Georgia Dream Program lenders will require a credit score of 620, but you’ll only need a 3.5% down payment to qualify. You could also receive $5,000 to be used toward that down payment.

The program is only available in certain areas. There are income restrictions, but those depend on where you’re planning to buy a home in Georgia. Applicants are required to complete homebuyer counseling before receiving a mortgage, as well. This entails an individual counseling session, online homebuyer education course, or homebuyer workshop.

6. Georgia Choice

Georgia Choice mortgages are a specific type of Georgia Dream Program loans. They’re offered to disabled Georgians or their family members who need help purchasing their first homes. We’d encourage anyone Georgia that is disabled to consider this option.

All of the same benefits of the Dream Program we outlined above apply, except qualified applicants actually receive $7,500 toward their down payments.

7. Georgia PEN

The Georgia PEN Mortgage is available to “Protectors, Educators, and Nurses” who are applying for their first mortgage under the Georgia Dream Program.

Qualified applicants include:

  • Active Military Members
  • EMS Workers and Highway Patrol
  • Firefighters, Police and all Teachers

As a form of the Dream Program, there are no monthly payments or interest with a PEN mortgage in Georgia. Just like with Choice mortgages, PEN loans come with $7,500 to go toward your down payment and closing costs.

8. Homebuyer Rebate

While all these programs above are extremely helpful, it gets even better.

One final option is a commission rebate program. This style of buyer credit was originally pioneered by Redfin over 10 years ago and is still offered by them today. SimpleShowing, the author of this article, offers a rebate about 3-4x higher than the Redfin credit. On average, homebuyers get about $4,000 – $5,000 paid towards their closing costs – which drastically reduces the cost of buying a home.

The SimpleShowing refund program is offered to buyers in Florida, Georgia and Texas. Meanwhile, Redfin offers a reduced rebate in nearly every other state.

Contact us today and we’ll cover all the details for you, so you’ll save even more money when you purchase your first house in Georgia.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, navigating the home buying process in Georgia as a first-time buyer can be both exciting and daunting. Fortunately, a variety of down payment assistance programs are available to ease the financial burden. The Georgia Dream Homeownership Program stands out, offering substantial aid to those who qualify, thereby reducing the typical average down payment. This is especially beneficial for buyers who may struggle with saving for a large payment on a house.

Moreover, programs like this can significantly lower or even eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance, a common requirement when the down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. Understanding the range of mortgage options available is crucial. From a conventional loan, which often requires a higher median down payment and minimum credit score, to government-backed options like the VA loan and USDA loan, each offers unique benefits.

The VA loan, for instance, is an excellent option for veterans, typically requiring no down payment or private mortgage insurance, while the USDA loan caters to those purchasing in rural areas. Partnering with a knowledgeable mortgage lender can help you navigate these options and find a mortgage loan that suits your financial situation. Remember, aside from the down payment, factors like mortgage payment, closing cost assistance, and the overall home loan terms play a pivotal role in making an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals.

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