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Neighborhood Expert: Down payment assistance programs in Virginia

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or

My post last week was about predictions for the real estate market this year.

I mentioned at the end that there are multiple down payment assistance programs available in Virginia. I want to highlight some of them here. With the new calendar year, new funds are available for these programs and first-time buyers should be aware these are available.

However, before I get to those programs I want to highlight two programs that are readily available at all times:

FHA Loan, which is available to potential buyers who don’t currently own a home with only a 3.5% down payment with a minimum credit score of 580 (if the score is 500-579 they require 10% down). This is only available on your primary residence, not a rental.

Conventional loan with 3% down. A common mis-conception is that you need 20% down to buy a home. But you can put down anything from 3% and over on a conventional loan. The big deal with the 20% down is that anything less requires mortgage insurance, which is an additional payment each month on your mortgage until you get to that magical 80% loan to value number (which can come through payments or appreciation).

Again, each loan program has nuances and requirements, so you’ll want to speak to an experienced loan officer to determine which one is best for you.

Now, down to payment assistance programs. Let’s talk basic requirements:

  • First time buyer
  • Buying your primary home
  • Meet eligibility requirements (income limits and credit verification)
  • Only specific loan officers can do many of these loans as they must be approved

Virginia DHCD: Down Payment Assistance Program DPA

  • Offers gap financing in the form of a grant/forgivable loan for first-time buyers at or below 80% of the area median income
  • Can receive up to 10% or 15% of the sales price plus up to $2,500 towards closing costs
  • 2022 Adjust Home Income Limits for DC Metro: $63,000 for 1 person, $72,000 for 2 people

Closing Cost Assistance Grant

  • Helps to eliminate funds needed for closing

Mortgage Credit Certificate

  • Could lower federal income taxes owed, tax credit can be taken for the life of loan

USDA (Rural Housing)

  • 100% Financing option
  • Low mortgage insurance

Virginia Housing Plus Second Mortgage

  • Combines 2 mortgage together to cover the cost of your down payment

Many of these programs can be combined to maximize your benefits.

To read more about these programs, Virginia Housing has a great website with information. If you want to talk about how we can work together to make your dream of home ownership a reality, please reach out.

Photo via Tierra Mallorca/Unsplash

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