First-Time Home Buyer Assistance Programs in Philadelphia


Are you thinking of buying your first home? You can take advantage of a number of first-time buyer assistance programs, which help cover some costs associated with the buying and home ownership process.


You might think that you don’t qualify for a mortgage to buy your first home in Philadelphia or that the cost of closing puts home ownership out of your reach. The good news is that there are a number of first-time home buyer assistance programs in Philadelphia. The even better news is that, according to, Pennsylvania happens to be the most generous state when it comes to first-time home buyer assistance programs.

Before you rule out your dream of owning a home in Philadelphia, check out some programs available to see if you qualify for assistance. After all, why deal with ever-rising rental rates when you can finally buy a home?

What is a First-Time Home Buyer?

It’s important to note that the state’s definition of a first-time buyer might be different from your own definition. While you might think of a first-time buyer as someone who’s never owned a home, the state uses a looser definition. To qualify as a first-time buyer for many programs, you simply can’t have owned a home within the past three years.

Where to Find Assistance

It can take some digging to find grants and assistance programs for first-time buyers, but two places that are good to start with are the Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in Philadelphia and the PA Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), which has programs for buyers throughout the state. Your credit union or bank might also offer grants or loan programs for first-time buyers. Some neighborhood associations, such as New Kensington Community Development Corporation, also offer grants to eligible buyers.

Types of Programs

First-time home buyer programs often come in two forms: loan programs designed to help people get a mortgage for their first home or grants or tax credits to offer financial incentives for purchasing a home. For example, the DHCD offers qualified buyers a settlement assistance grant of up to $500, to help offset closing costs. The PHFA offers loans, such as the Keystone Home Loan Program, as well as assistance programs, such as the Mortgage Credit Certificate, which allows you to claim a tax credit for up to $2,000 of mortgage interest paid during the first year of home ownership.

What the Requirements Are

Along with requiring you and any adult who will live in the home to be a first-time home buyer, many programs have a number of additional requirements. It’s not uncommon for assistance programs to have income limits. For example, if you live alone, you can’t earn more than $45,000 annually to qualify for the settlement assistance grant from the DHCD. The grant program also requires you to complete home ownership counseling before you can qualify.

The Keystone Home Loan Program has an income limit of $97,300 per year for households in Philadelphia with one or two people. The loan program also limits the purchase price of a home in Philadelphia to no more than $417,000.

Along with building equity, there are a number of financial benefits to owning a home in Philly. You can escape the cycle of rent increases, for one thing. Plus, buying your first home can help you feel more a part of the neighborhood and community you’ve decided to call home.


Subscribe to Blue Matter and get the latest updates


  1. shermika gardner
    January 30, 2017

    hello i wanted to know if i can get some information for the first time home owner program. And where to sign up for the program

    • Victoria Keichinger
      January 31, 2017

      Hi Shermika, The best place to find more information about first time home owner programs in your area is to speak with a real estate professional. Please let us know if we can help you find a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in your area.

  2. Stephanie Smith
    February 22, 2017

    I am ready to begin my search to purchase my first home ever. I’d like information on real estate agents in my area, which is, West Philadelphia, PA 19131/19151. Looking forward to hearing from you shortly. Thank you.
    Stephanie Smith

  3. Zakiyyah Sarrys
    April 27, 2017

    I am interested in purchasing my first home and I need some assistance on going about it.

    • Victoria Keichinger
      May 2, 2017

      Hi Zakiyyah, How exciting! The best resource for more assistance in buying a home is a real estate professional. Have you found an agent in your area? If not, you can search for one at by selecting agent search and plugging in your zipcode. Let us know if you have any more questions. Best of luck to you!

  4. tamyra lawton
    June 27, 2017

    Hello my name is tamyra lawton I live in the Philadelphia area an I was interested in buying my first home for awhile but don’t have a clue to where to start or how can you share some info that will direct me in the right direction

  5. LouToya Tribble
    July 1, 2017

    Really need help going about homeowners program please contact me on my email

  6. Shanda
    November 2, 2017

    Looking to get into a program to help me buy a house


Leave a Reply