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IHCDA programs for homebuyers in Indiana

The IHCDA recommends Indiana residents to complete a mortgage pre-qualification. The mortgage lender will review your credit, debt and income situation to determine which mortgage suits you best.

When you apply for your loan, your lender can help you apply for these down payment assistance programs as well.

Note, the IHCDA defines a first-time homebuyer as someone who has not owned their principal residence in the last three years.

First Place

First Place is a down payment assistance program that offers borrowers 6% of their overall purchase price on a 30-year fixed-interest-rate FHA loan.

This program is reserved for first-time homebuyers, unless the property is located in one of Indiana’s target areas or the buyer is a veteran.

If your debt-to-income ratio is under 45%, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 640. If your ratio is in the 45% to 50% range, you’ll need a credit score of at least 680.

Next Home

With Next Home, homebuyers can receive down payment assistance of 3.5% on an FHA 30-year fixed-rate loan. You don’t need to be a first-time buyer to qualify.

The credit score requirements are the same as with the First Place program: If your debt-to-income ratio is under 45%, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 640. And if your ratio is in the 45% to 50% range, you’ll need a credit score of at least 680.

Unlike First Place, this program can be used in conjunction with the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC).

Mortgage Credit Certificate

An MCC can help you reduce the amount you owe in federal income tax each year — and in doing so can increase your qualifying income.

This program is reserved for first-time homebuyers, with the exception of veterans and individuals buying property in targeted areas.

The MCC can be used with the Next Home program and with government-backed loans (Ginnie, Fannie or Freddie).

More: Determine monthly payments with max mortgage calculator

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Who qualifies for first-time homebuyer programs in Indiana?

Through working with a participating mortgage lender, the IHCDA will loan you money to help with your down payment and closing costs.

The home you’re buying will have to serve as your primary residence. Your income and the home’s purchase price must also fall within certain regional limits.

More: Get a free credit score and credit monitoring from Credit Sesame.

Federal first-time homebuyer programs

To qualify for a “conventional” mortgage secured through the private market, you’ll often need a credit score of about 620 and a down payment of at least 5% of the total home price. And if you’re offering anything under 20% for the down payment, you’ll have to pay extra for private mortgage insurance.

That’s the most common route to homeownership, but the federal government offers a number of nonconventional mortgages that may be better suited to first-time buyers.

FHA loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 1934, the government introduced FHA loans to encourage homeownership across the country.

Compared to conventional mortgages, the terms of an FHA mortgage are less strict. You’ll only need a credit score of 580, but if you have enough money for a larger deposit, your score could be as low as 500. The minimum down payment with an FHA loan is 3.5%, but if it’s less than 10%, you’ll have to pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) as well.

These loans put the dream of homeownership within reach for more Americans, but you do have to keep an eye on the fees involved because they tend to add up quickly.

More: FHA loan requirements

VA loans

In 1944, Congress passed an act to reward eligible veterans with cheaper and easier home loans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will guarantee mortgages issued to active service members, veterans and some surviving military spouses. These loans don’t require a down payment or mortgage insurance; however, borrowers will have to pay a funding fee. At time of writing, that’s between 1.4% and 3.6%.

USDA loans

The United States Department of Agriculture can guarantee loans for rural and suburban homeowners. USDA loans don’t require a down payment or private mortgage insurance.

As with VA loans, you’ll have to pay an upfront fee. Here, it amounts to 1% of the loan amount and an annual fee of 0.35%. Note that these costs are generally more affordable than paying for mortgage insurance.

Also keep in mind that these loans are specifically for lower-income households. You won’t be able to take out a USDA loan if your household earns too much.

The current income limits in most parts of the U.S. are $86,850 for one- to four-member households and $114,650 for five- to eight-member households, but the thresholds may be higher if you live in a county with a steeper-than-average cost of living.

You can find out whether your household qualifies through the USDA’s website.

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Next steps to buying a home in Indiana

Now that you know your homebuyer program options, you may be asking yourself: “What next?”

A great first move would be to take a look at your credit score and see how you measure up to your ideal loan’s requirements. You can get a free score through the site Credit Sesame.

Was your score disappointing? That’s OK; you have plenty of options. An organization like Credit Strong can help you bring your score up without using a credit card.

When you’re in good shape, don’t forget to gather the important documents you’ll need to prove you’ve got money in the bank and money floating in.

Then you can finally think about getting pre-approved for a mortgage and start shopping for your new digs.

First-Time Homebuyer Programs by State
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Sigrid Forberg Associate Editor

Sigrid’s is Moneywise.com's associate editor, and she has also worked as a reporter and staff writer on the Moneywise team.

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