Tips for First Time Home Buyers in Oregon

Buying a first home is a new and exciting time, but can come with many challenges for the inexperienced buyer. 

In Portland, Oregon, there are a few loan options that new homeowners should look into before they make a decision or decide that they can’t afford to own a home.  

National First-Home Buyer Programs

There are national and state mortgage programs that are made to make home ownership more affordable. 

Conventional Mortgage: 

  • Best for low down payments and limited mortgage insurance premiums
  • Can put as little down as 3% – if mortgage meets requirements set by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac
  • Putting at least 20% down means that buyers won’t have to pay mortgage insurance 

FHA Loans:  

  • Best for low credit score & low down payment 
  • Federal Housing Administration allows down payments as low as 3.5% for people with good credit (580 or higher)
  • Insured loans for borrowers with scores of 500 – but needs a 10% down payment 

VA Loans: 

  • Best for military & low down payment
  • Assists service members, veterans & their families to buy homes
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Little or no down payment or mortgage insurance required

USDA Loans: 

  • Best for low down payments – USDA loan is a zero-down-payment mortgage 
  • Rural and suburban home buyers 
  • Loan issued by U.S. Department of Agriculture through the USDA Rural Development

OHCS Highlights & Eligibility 

Oregon Housing and Community Service (OHCS) offers below-market-rate mortgages for first-time home owners. 

People who have not owned a home in three years are considered first-time homeowners, which is helpful for people who have rented apartments or rental homes. 

In Oregon, bonds are sold through the Oregon Bond Residential Loan Program. This helps finance Rate Advantage and Cash Advantage Home Loans, which are below market-interest mortgages that are available to first-time home buyers. 

OHCS Loan Programs 

Oregon RateAdvantage Home Loan 

  • Borrowers who qualify will receive the lowest fixed rate possible 
  • Maximizes buyer’s power to purchase a home with an affordable monthly payment 

Oregon Cash Advantage Home Loan

  • Borrowers will get a loan at a low, fixed interest rate – plus cash assistance equal to 3% of the loan amount
  • Helps reduce total closing costs 
  • Cannot be used for the minimum investment needed for an FHA loan

Oregon Down Payment Assistance

  • Up to $15,000 in down payment assistance grants are available from local organizations that are qualified to offer help
  • People who apply need to complete homeownership education & follow-up counseling 

The state of Oregon and the U.S. in general have a bunch of avenues to help out first-time home owners financially, so take a look at each option and see if you qualify for one or more. 

You can get started by contacting an approved lender to get more details on the program and apply.