There are so many programs available for first-time buyers today, that buying a home may be easier than you think. Generally, these loan programs reduce downpayment or closing cost requirement because savings is often the biggest challenge when buying a first home.

The Community Home Buyer's program, one of the most popular, allows downpayments as low as 5 percent. Up to 2 percent is permitted to come from a gift or unsecured loan which results in an out-of-pocket downpayment as low as 3 percent. The program also reduces closing costs and eliminates the cash reserves you would generally be required to have on hand after settlement.

Community Home Buyer's is not a traditional affordable housing program. It is designed for both low- and moderate-income buyers, making it a good way for first-timers to get a start.

Your state or county may also offer programs, often called bond programs, that provide assistance with the downpayment or closing costs. Ask your Seaport Mortgage loan officer what assistance programs are available to you.

The better established first-time buyer programs are offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). FHA loans are available to anyone qualified while VA loans are for qualified veterans of the armed services, including reservists and unmarried surviving spouses of veterans. Both programs reduce downpayments, and under the VA single-family program, fully qualified veterans may be able to buy a home with no downpayment at all. Qualifying guidelines are relaxed, but the formulas are more complicated. Your Seaport Mortgage loan officer will be happy to review them with you.

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