First-Time Homebuyers: What Programs Are Available To You?

Here’s what you need to know to get the most from your home-buying experience.

What’s your motivation for becoming a homeowner?

Tired of renting and not building equity? Starting a family and need a bigger space? Maybe you’re fed up with roommates who leave their dirty dishes lying around and mess with the thermostat.

Whatever your reasons, it’s important to put yourself in the best situation from the beginning of the process.

That may mean addressing some common pain points for first-time homebuyers, like:

  • Covering down payment and closing costs
  • Securing access to credit and having credit flexibility
  • Finding the right lender – an expert who’s always available to answer questions

The good news: At, we’ll help you through these pain points to make sure your home-buying process is EASY. We offer several beneficial programs for first-time homebuyers – PLUS we service our mortgage loans in-house, so you’ll always have a home loan expert by your side.

Lori Josiger-Bloch, a Home Lending Officer in Wausau, recommends first-time homebuyers start their process by finding the right lender.

“We’ll review your application and assess your financial situation to see what you qualify for,” says Josiger-Bloch. “There are some great programs out there, and I love when people go out and do their research, but sometimes it can get overwhelming. That’s what we’re here for – to help you sort it all out and get what’s best for you.”

What programs do we offer?

Programs below may not list all features of the program, there may be additional restrictions and qualification requirements.

First-Time Homebuyers Programs – Conventional Mortgage Loans

Fannie Mae – HomeReady® Mortgage

The Federal National Mortgage Association’s (Fannie Mae) HomeReady Mortgage program is designed for creditworthy, low-income borrowers.* Here are a few of the benefits available when qualifications are met:

  • A down payment requirement of as little as 3%
  • Borrower credit for down payment or closing cost assistance
  • Affordable mortgage insurance
  • Homeownership education requirement

Freddie Mac – Home Possible®

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s (Freddie Mac) Home Possible program is for very low to low income borrowers. This program can provide several benefits to eligible borrowers,* including but not limited to:

  • A down payment requirement of as little as 3%
  • Credit flexibilities
  • The option to have non-occupying co-borrowers contribute to borrower funds on one-unit properties

“I love our Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs because we service them in-house,” says Josiger-Bloch. “It’s the best of both worlds – we sell your mortgage to Fannie or Freddie so you can get a better rate, but we’re going to take care of your loan. So, if you have any problems, you can call us, and we’ll take care of it right away.”

*Additional restrictions and qualification requirements may apply.

Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) First Mortgage and Down Payment Assistance Programs

WHEDA is an income qualifying conventional loan and you do not need to be a first-time homebuyer to utilize this program.

“I’m a big fan of the WHEDA program,” says Josiger-Bloch. “WHEDA allows what’s called an easy ‘close-second’ to help income qualified buyers cover their 3% down payments, closing costs, and prepaid items by taking out a second lien on the property to finance those costs.”

First-Time Homebuyers Programs – Government Mortgage Loans

United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Guaranteed Rural Housing Program

This program is designed to help low-to-moderate income rural homebuyers achieve home ownership with loans, loan guarantees, and grants.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Loans

The VA program helps Veterans, Service members, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners.

“You can do up to 100% financing on the VA loan, which is really nice,” adds Josiger-Bloch.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans

FHA loans allow for lower down payments and lower minimum credit scores, making them a great option for first-time homebuyers. With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.

What more should you know?

Explore what’s available through your city and state. Your local lender can help you with this.

“The City of Wausau offers some really nice programs to help with the down payment for properties located in the City of Wausau for eligible, income qualifying individuals,” says Josiger-Bloch. “I think for first-time homebuyers, it’s important to choose a lender you feel comfortable with and I think local is key. That’s because you’re going to have a lot of questions and we will be a great resource right there for you.”


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