Short guide to first-time homebuyer programs in NYC

There are many reasons why people currently hesitate when it comes to buying properties in New York. The biggest among them definitely are the high prices. Additionally, banks seem to make more and more restrictions every day which only makes things more difficult as it is tricky to find a low mortgage rate. We don’t even have to mention how lenders have become even more careful about who they lend money. The newfound situation where buyers aren’t able to see the listings personally practically brought the sales to a stop. However, that’s exactly what makes this time a perfect opportunity for buying a home. Prices are lower and with some financial assistance, you might stop being hesitant about this investment. So, we’ve decided to make this short guide to first-time homebuyer programs in NYC to help you make that decision and ensure nicer tomorrow for your family.

What are first-time homebuyer programs?

First-time buyer programs, or grants how they’re also called, are created with the idea of making buying a home accessible, affordable, and possible for those people who qualify. More specifically, they can help buyers with down payment and closing costs. A few different types of these programs are available through different entities in NYC and on the federal level.

The best thing about these however is that if you comply with the terms of the grant, you don’t have to repay the money. Of course, every program will have its’ own terms, but there are some general things that are important. And these are:

  • Being a first-time homebuyer
  • Meeting the requirements regarding the income
  • You have to take a first-time homebuyer education course
  • You have to live in the property you’re buying as your primary residence (luckily NYC isn’t on the list of the best places in the world to invest in a rental property)
Woman reading the short guide to first-time homebuyer programs in NYC. on her laptop.

The idea of the short guide to first-time homebuyer programs in NYC is to help you understand what these programs exactly are.

HPD’s HomeFirst

The first program on our list is run by Housing Preservation and Development and is symbolically called HomeFirst. Basic requirements that you’ll have to fulfill are that you have an income of up to 80% of the area median income and to have plans on living in the home that you’re buying for the next 10 years at least.

This program provides New Yorkers with up to $40,000, or 6% of the apartment price that goes towards the down payment and closing costs. You can choose between five boroughs so the choices are plentiful. As a buyer, you are obliged to attend some education classes and you have to have your personal funds to participate in the purchase. Remember that in addition, you need to put money aside for the relocation as well.


We continue our short guide to first-time homebuyer programs in NYC with a program run by the State of New York Mortgage Agency. This one is interesting for the buyers that are at or below a certain income level. It can help you to buy an apartment in NYC. However, it’s aimed primarily toward the units that are below the median sales prices for the Big Apple. So don’t look at Soho and New York property market trends in 2020. You can get some help from SONYMA for getting a loan if you have at least 3% if the purchase price.

It’s worth mentioning that not all banks offer this program and the process will require some additional paperwork. If you’re working with a mortgage broker, all the chances are that you won’t hear about this grant as they work with the lenders directly. Therefore, it is a little bit more struggle, but if you’re struggling to get funds for a down payment this can be a way to go.

Woman counting money.

If you find yourself below a certain income level, SONYMA may be the right choice for you.

FHA loans

Federal Housing Administration loans are also there to help you with reaching the financial requirements for buying your first home. These are actually mortgages insured by the FHA. Although mortgage insurance costs are considerably high, there is one important advantage. Namely, FHA loans do not include any income or first-time homebuyer restrictions.

The amount you will need for your down payment can be anywhere between 3.5 and 10% of the funds. The definite amount depends on your credit score.

NeighborhoodLIFT program

The next program in our short guide to first-time homebuyer programs in NYC is NeighborhoodLift program. The service is offered by a partnership created between Wells Fargo and Neighborhood Housing Services NYC. They offer $20,000 in down payment assistance for any kind of owner-occupied property. It can also be one to a four-bedroom building in one of the three neighborhoods they cover. And those are Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens.

Our professionals from drew our attention to that you don’t even have to be a first home buyer for this one. However, you’ll have to complete a homebuyer education course to help you prepare your finances for the process.

HDFC co-ops

If you have heard about Housing Development Fund Corporation you know that their buildings only allow buyers in the lower-income bracket. Some will require the buyers to earn a percentage of the median income in the area, while others won’t. Another possible option for requirements is based on the apartment’s utility and maintenance fees. Some credit unions have specific packages geared especially towards HDFC buyers.

Buildings in New York.

You would be surprised by how many buildings in NYC are operated by co-ops.

Fannie Mae option

And the last example we want to talk about is the one that allows you to take a piece of cake in one of the cities with the biggest number of millennial homeowners in the US. This program offers a 3% down payment, but also allows for co-borrowers on the loan. What this means practically is that a parent can help an adult child qualify and buy a place.

There’s also an option to register rental payments as the source of income to help you qualify as a buyer. So, if you have another apartment you can use it as a source of income. And that’s why the Fannie Mae option is the final one in our short guide to first-time homebuyer programs in NYC.