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Wisconsin First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Buying your first home can be an overwhelming experience. The process is long and full of paperwork, and it can be tough to come up with the down payment and closing costs, among other expenses.

If you are a first-time buyer in Wisconsin, there is help available. The state is home to a large-scale program that has helped renters become homeowners for more than 40 years. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) offers several loan programs, a couple of which are targeted specifically to first-time homebuyers.

Wisconsin first-time homebuyer programs

In Wisconsin, WHEDA offers a variety of programs with perks that range from low mortgage interest rates to help buying properties that need renovation to loans for down payments and closing costs.

Regardless of which loan program a first-time homebuyer selects, they should first get their finances in order and know their credit score before applying.

Eligibility for Wisconsin assistance

Most of the WHEDA loan programs require a credit score of 620 and proof of ability to afford monthly mortgage payments. All first-time homebuyers are also required to take homebuyer education courses. The classes offer information about the buying process, financing options and responsible homeownership.

The WHEDA programs also require that borrowers meet certain income and home price limits and the property purchased will be the borrower’s primary residence.

WHEDA Advantage Conventional home loan

Features

  • 30-year, fixed-rate loan
  • Down payment and closing cost assistance
  • Refinancing not available with these loans

Eligibility requirements

  • Income limits, which vary by household size and county, range from $74,700 to $128,380
  • Purchase price limits range from $271,164 to $424,329, depending on the number of units and house location
  • The property must be the homebuyer’s principal residence
  • The loan can be used to buy an existing, single-family home or a duplex
  • Landlord counseling is required for two-unit properties

How it works

Homebuyers should first look at WHEDA’s income and loan limits to make sure they qualify. They can then find a participating WHEDA lender in their area. The lender will look at their credit history, income and debt ratio and determine which WHEDA program would be the best fit. Buyers can then sign up to attend homebuyer education classes.

Advantage Conventional HomeStyle Renovation

Features

  • Allows borrowers who are approved for an Advantage Conventional home loan to buy and renovate a home with one mortgage
  • All costs associated with the renovation — including six months of mortgage payments if the buyer can’t live in the home during the renovation — can be financed
  • Buyers have six months after closing to finish the renovation work
  • Up to 100% financing is available depending on the borrower and property type

Eligibility

  • Buyers must first qualify for a WHEDA Advantage home loan
  • Income limits, which vary by household size and county, range from $74,700 to $128,380
  • Purchase price limits range from $271,164 to $424,329, depending on the number of units and house location

How it works

Interested homebuyers must first apply and qualify for a WHEDA Advantage Conventional home loan.

First Time Home Buyer (FTHB) Advantage

Features

  • Low-interest, fixed-rate mortgages
  • Interest rates below conventional mortgage rates

Eligibility

  • Aimed at first-time homebuyers, veterans and people looking to buy a home in a designated target area
  • Borrower must qualify for a conventional WHEDA Advantage loan

How it works

Homebuyers should first look at WHEDA’s income and loan limits to make sure they qualify. Then they can find a participating WHEDA lender in their area to work with. The lender will look at their credit history, income and debt ratio and determine which WHEDA program would be the best fit. Borrowers can then sign up to attend homebuyer education classes.

Veterans Affordable Loan Opportunity Rate

Features

  • Offers reduced-interest home loans for eligible veterans
  • Fixed-rate mortgage is priced below the WHEDA Advantage Conventional home loan market rate

Eligibility

  • Must be a military veteran with an honorable discharge or release
  • Must qualify for a WHEDA Conventional Advantage loan

How it works

Interested homebuyers must first apply and qualify for a WHEDA Advantage Conventional home loan.

WHEDA Tax Advantage

Features

  • Special tax credit to qualified borrowers that lowers their federal income tax liability for the duration of their mortgage
  • Annual tax credit is 25% for non-target areas and 40% for target areas or for borrowers who are eligible veterans
  • Maximum annual tax credit of $2,000 for the life of the mortgage
  • Tax credits can be claimed for up to 30 years on the original mortgage

Eligibility

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer, an eligible veteran or buying a home in a target area
  • Must meet income and purchase price limits
  • Property is limited to one and two residential units
  • Properties with more than one unit must be five years old or older
  • Property must become the primary residence for the borrower
  • Program is also available to non-WHEDA borrowers

Homebuyers should first look at WHEDA’s income and loan limits to make sure they qualify. Then they can find a participating WHEDA lender in their area. The lender will look at their credit history, income and debt ratio and determine which WHEDA program would be the best fit. Borrowers can then sign up to attend homebuyer education classes.

Capital Access Advantage down payment assistance

Features

  • Helps WHEDA borrowers buy a home sooner by providing a down payment loan
  • 0% APR second mortgage with no monthly payments
  • Offers a deferred payment; the loan is payable at the time the first mortgage is paid in full
  • Immediate access to loan funds at the time of closing
  • Free access to homebuyer education and credit counseling from WHEDA’s partners

Eligibility

  • Recently waived “high housing needs” area restriction for limited time; ask lender about this
  • Homebuyers must use a WHEDA Advantage mortgage to be eligible
  • Income, purchase price and credit guidelines apply

How it works

Check the income and purchase price limits to see if you can qualify. Then find a participating WHEDA lender in your area.

Easy Close Advantage down payment assistance

Features

  • Offers loans for down payment, closing costs and other homebuyer expenses
  • A low-cost, fixed interest rate for 10 years
  • Immediate access to loan funds at the time of closing
  • Free access to homebuyer education and credit counseling classes

Eligibility

  • Must have a WHEDA Advantage mortgage to qualify
  • Income and credit guidelines apply

How it works

Interested homebuyers must first apply and qualify for a WHEDA Advantage Conventional home loan.

National first-time homebuyer programs

Through WHEDA, Wisconsin residents have access to programs that can help them get into a home quicker and easier. There are also nationwide programs available to new homebuyers, too. National loan programs include FHA loans, VA loans, Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage mortgages, Fannie Mae Standard 97 percent LTV mortgages and the USDA’s 502 Direct Loan program. Habitat for Humanity also has local chapters in the state.

To learn more about these programs and other aspects of first-time homebuying, see our guide.

 

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