Oregon First-Time Homebuyer Programs
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Thinking buying your first home in Oregon? If so, the state has several first-time homebuyer programs that can help.
An Oregon bond program funds mortgages for first-time homebuyers at low interest rates, and the state also sends money to local programs for down payment assistance, closing costs and other home buying expenses. In January 2019, we researched the most current information for first-time buyers in the state.
Oregon first-time homebuyer programs
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is a state housing finance agency that helps provide affordable, stable housing for low- and moderate-income residents.
The OHCS operates the Oregon Bond Residential Loan Program, a bond program funded by mortgage revenue bonds issued by the state. The program provides money to fund mortgages at below-market interest rates through both Cash Advantage Loans and Rate Advantage Loans, detailed below. Oregon also provides funds to qualified local organizations that offer down payment and closing cost assistance to low- to moderate-income families.
Both programs offer below-market interest rates, with Rate Advantage offering a slightly lower rate than Cash Advantage. For example, as of November 15, 2018, the rate for the Rate Advantage Loan was listed as 4.125% while the rate for the Cash Advantage Loan was listed at 4.875%. For comparison, the national average 30-year-fixed mortgage rate at the time was 4.94%.
Eligibility for Oregon assistance
To qualify for the Oregon loan programs, you must be an Oregon resident and also either a first-time homebuyer or a buyer purchasing a home in a federally designated “targeted area.”
Targeted areas in Oregon are in the following counties: Baker, Clatsop, Coos, Crook, Harney, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler. Targeted areas also cover anything within the city limits of the following cities: Ashland, Milton-Freewater, Myrtle Creek, Port Orford, Silverton, Turner and Vernonia. Certain parts of the cities of Albany, Eugene, Medford and Portland areas are also classified as targeted areas.
If you plan to buy in a targeted area and are not a first-time homebuyer, you must first transfer any residential property you own before the loan closes. You must also meet income limits that vary by county and household size. Check this Oregon bond program page for current OHCS income limits. The home you are buying must also fall within OHCS maximum purchase price limits.
If you plan to turn to a local organization in your area for possible housing help, check eligibility requirements, as they may vary.
Cash Advantage Loan
The Cash Advantage Loan program uses tax-exempt bonds to help homebuyers by offering both cash assistance and affordable mortgage loans.
- Cash assistance that does not need to be repaid, up to 3% of the loan amount
- Can be used to help with closing costs
- Offers a below-market interest rate on mortgages
- No prepayment penalty
- Does not require mortgage insurance if the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is 80% or less
- For first-time homebuyers, unless you are purchasing a home in a targeted area
- Gross household annual income must meet program income limits for your county and family size
- Home must meet maximum purchase price limits, which vary by county and depend on whether the property is in a targeted area
- Loan must be insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the USDA Office of Rural Development
Visit the OHCS Find a Lender page to locate a lender that can check your eligibility and help you apply for a Cash Advantage Loan. You can search for a lender by county and program. You can also check the OHCS rates page to get the current interest rate for the loan program.
Rate Advantage Loan
The Rate Advantage Loan is also part of the Oregon Bond Residential Loan Program.
- Mortgages at below-market interest rates
- No prepayment penalty
- Does not require mortgage insurance if LTV is 80% or less
- For first-time homebuyers, or you must be buying in a targeted area
- Gross annual household income must fall within program income limits for your county and family size
- Home must meet maximum purchase price requirements, which vary by county and depend on whether the property is in a targeted area
- Loan must be insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the USDA Rural Development program
Check the OHCS Find a Lender page to locate a lender in your area who can check your eligibility and help you apply for a Rate Advantage Loan. You can also check the OHCS rates page to get the current interest rate for the Rate Advantage Loan program.
Down Payment Assistance Program
The Down Payment Assistance Program provides state money to local organizations that offer down payment assistance programs to low- and very low–income families and individuals.
- Up to $15,000 in down payment and/or closing cost assistance
- Other features may apply depending on the local program
- Complete a homeownership education program
- Additional requirements may apply based on the specific local program
To find a local agency or organization that serves your area, go to the Oregon Down Payment Assistance page. Contact the organization directly for more information and to check your eligibility.
National first-time homebuyer programs
While Oregon does offer first-time homebuyer assistance programs, it does not have as many as some states. For that reason, consider looking into national first-time homebuyer programs, as well. Check our general guide to first-time homebuyer programs to learn more about national programs.