A Guide to Understanding Down Payment Assistance in Mortgages

Buying a home is a significant financial commitment, and the down payment is often one of the biggest hurdles for prospective homeowners. Fortunately, down payment assistance programs are available to help make homeownership more accessible. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of down payment assistance, how it works, and how you can benefit from these programs. If you have questions about your specific situation and eligibility for down payment assistance contact one of our loan officers today!

What is Down Payment Assistance?

Down payment assistance (DPA) refers to financial aid provided to homebuyers to help cover the cost of their down payment. This assistance can come in various forms, including grants, second mortgages, or forgivable loans. DPA programs are typically offered by government agencies, non-profit organizations, and sometimes even private lenders.

Types of Down Payment Assistance Programs

1. Grants:

   Grants are gifts of money that do not need to be repaid. They are often offered by state and local governments or non-profit organizations to assist low-to-moderate-income buyers.

2. Second Mortgages:

   These are loans that must be repaid alongside your primary mortgage. They can have low or zero interest rates and may offer deferred payments until you sell the home, refinance, or pay off your first mortgage.

3. Forgivable Loans:

   Forgivable loans are similar to second mortgages but are forgiven if you meet certain conditions, such as living in the home for a specific number of years. Essentially, if you meet the terms, you don’t have to repay the loan.

4. Matched Savings Programs:

   Also known as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), these programs match your savings towards a down payment, often at a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1.

Who Qualifies for Down Payment Assistance?

Eligibility for DPA programs varies but generally depends on factors like income, credit score, and the location of the property. Common eligibility criteria include:

Income Limits: Many programs have income limits to ensure they assist those who need it most. These limits vary by location and family size.

– First-Time Homebuyer Status: Some programs are exclusively for first-time homebuyers, typically defined as someone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years.

– Credit Requirements: While credit score requirements can vary, many programs are designed to assist those with lower credit scores.

– Property Location: Some DPA programs are only available for homes purchased in specific areas, often to encourage homeownership in certain neighborhoods.

How to Apply for Down Payment Assistance

1. Research Available Programs:

   Start by researching DPA programs available in your area. State housing finance agencies and local non-profit organizations are good places to begin. If you have questions or want to talk to a down payment assistance expert, contact one of our loan officers!

2. Meet Eligibility Requirements:

   Ensure you meet the eligibility requirements for the programs you’re interested in. This may include income limits, credit score thresholds, and first-time homebuyer status.

3. Complete Homebuyer Education:

   Many DPA programs require applicants to complete a homebuyer education course. These courses cover the home buying process, mortgage options, and financial management.

4. Apply for Assistance:

   Submit your application along with any required documentation, such as proof of income, credit reports, and information about the property you intend to purchase.

5. Work with a Lender:

   Once approved for assistance, work with a mortgage lender who participates in the DPA program. They can help you navigate the home buying process and integrate your down payment assistance with your mortgage. Ross Mortgage Company is proud to offer a variety of down payment assistance programs to its borrowers across multiple states and counties. 

Benefits of Down Payment Assistance

– Lower Upfront Costs: DPA can significantly reduce the amount of money you need to save for a down payment, making homeownership more attainable.

– Increased Buying Power: With additional financial support, you may be able to afford a better home or a home in a more desirable area.

– Improved Financial Stability: Reducing the upfront cost of buying a home can leave you with more savings for emergencies and other expenses.

Common Misconceptions About Down Payment Assistance

1. It’s Only for First-Time Homebuyers:

   While many programs target first-time buyers, there are also options for repeat buyers and those who haven’t owned a home in several years.

2. It’s Too Good to Be True:

   DPA programs are legitimate and designed to promote homeownership. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements and follow the application process, you can benefit from these programs.

3. It Will Delay the Buying Process:

   While applying for DPA may add steps to your home buying process, the benefits of reduced upfront costs can outweigh the extra time and effort.


Down payment assistance programs can be a valuable resource for prospective homebuyers struggling to save for a down payment. By understanding the types of assistance available, eligibility requirements, and application processes, you can take advantage of these programs to achieve your dream of homeownership. Start by researching programs in your area or reaching out to a Ross Mortgage Company loan officer today!