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.


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