Gorgeous autumn scenery, fabulous cities, and intense sports fans make Ohio the true gem of the Midwest. Whether you love to venture outdoors to see the sunny hillsides or ski the slopes throughout winter, Ohio has pristine views and exciting opportunities just waiting for you.
Amusement park enthusiasts will find that Ohio is the roller coaster capital of the world, and ice cream lovers may better know it as the origin of a few of your favorite frozen treat companies. Columbus is home to some of the most creative minds in the world in fashion, art, and design. Worldwide companies bring a huge manufacturing industry to Ohio, opening thousands of jobs for residents. What’s not to love about this incredible state?
When choosing your first home, it can be overwhelming and stressful to find a home that fits your budget. Sometimes, homeowners find that their dream home is just out of reach. To aid in closing the gap between the purchase price and the amount that the buyer can afford, financial assistance programs may offer a boost to eligible first-time buyers. By lowering the required down payment or closing costs through grants or a low-interest loan, these programs can help make your purchase less stressful, so you can settle in sooner and enjoy your new home.
Financial assistance programs often vary by state, and some by city or region. Here are several opportunities for new homebuyers in Ohio for you to consider.
Who Qualifies as a First-Time Homebuyer in Ohio?
According to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, an individual must not have owned a home in the past three years as a primary residence to be considered a first-time homebuyer. However, repeat buyers who are purchasing in designated target areas – and qualified veterans – may be exempt from this requirement. When reviewing the guidelines for each program, check the specific requirements for exceptions.
Statewide First-Time Buyer Programs
The following programs are available statewide to Ohio residents.
OFHA Homebuyer Program
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) offers affordable loan options to help prospective homebuyers purchase their dream home through the OFHA Homebuyer Program. These are mostly 30-year, fixed-rate FHA, VA, USDA-RD and conventional mortgage loans designed specifically for homebuyers with low- and moderate-incomes. Purchase price maximums and income limits apply, as well as other eligibility requirements. See website for more information.
Ohio Grants for Grads
Recent graduates may be eligible for a discounted mortgage rate and 2.5 percent or 5 percent down payment assistance if they choose to remain in Ohio through the Ohio Grants for Grads program. The down payment assistance is forgiven after five years as long as the graduate remains in Ohio. The borrower must be a first-time homebuyer and other eligibility requirements apply, so be sure to visit the website for more information.
Ohio Mortgage Tax Credit
OFHA’s Ohio Mortgage Tax Credit offers eligible first-time buyers a tax credit of up to 40 percent of mortgage interest paid each year, with a maximum of $2,000. Eligibility requirements and purchase price limits apply, so be sure to visit the website for details.
Statewide Non First-Time Buyer Programs
While the above programs are strictly available for first-time homebuyers, there are other statewide programs to assist individuals looking to move from one home they have owned into another.
Ohio Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance
The Ohio Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance program gives qualified homebuyers the opportunity to choose either 2.5 percent or 5 percent of the home’s purchase price to be applied towards down payments, closing costs or other pre-closing expenses. This loan is forgiven after seven years, unless the purchaser sells or refinances the home. Eligibility requirements apply, so be sure to visit the website for details.
OFHA Next Home Program
The OFHA Next Home Program offers 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to those who qualify for assistance but are not first-time homebuyers. Next Home may be paired with 2.5 percent Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance. To learn more about eligibility requirements and the general process, visit the website.
The OFHA Ohio Heroes offers a reduced mortgage rate for Ohio residents employed in a public service profession. This includes veterans, active-duty military, surviving spouses, police and firefighters, first responders, some medical professionals, teachers, administrators, and counselors. Eligibility requirements such as credit restrictions, income limits and purchase price maximums apply, so be sure to visit the website for details.
Communities First Ohio
Residents of Ohio may be eligible for down payment assistance through the Communities First Ohio program. Qualified borrowers may receive a Communities First grant based on borrower income rather than household income. Eligible applicants must apply through a participating lender. See website for details and requirements.
Homebuyer Programs by Location
In addition to statewide programs, there are often homebuyer assistance programs based in different cities and regions of a state.
The City of Columbus provides eligible first-time, low to moderate income borrowers with down payment assistance through the American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) Program. The home must be located in the City of Columbus. The ADDI program provides a deferred, forgivable loan to be applied towards down payment and closing costs. Other eligibility criteria apply, so check out the website for details.
Residents of Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, may be eligible for down payment assistance. First-time buyers whose income is in the low to moderate range may apply for the Cuyahoga County Down Payment Assistance (DPA) Program and could qualify for up to 10 percent of the purchase price.
Additionally, residents in the Glenville-Circle North neighborhood of Cleveland may apply for the Mayor’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative DPA. Those who qualify may receive up to $20,000 to put towards down payment and closing costs. While there are no income restrictions, eligible properties must be fully renovated or new construction homes. The down payment assistance will be in the form of a zero percent deferred second mortgage which will be forgiven after five years – as long as the buyer continues to reside in the home. See website for more information.
In the City of Dayton, first-time buyers may be eligible to receive 10 percent of the purchase price for down payment assistance and closing costs through Dayton Down Payment Assistance. The loan is a zero percent deferred second mortgage. Income limits and other restrictions apply, so visit the website for details.
Residents of Franklin County, outside of the City of Columbus, may be eligible for financial assistance through Franklin County’s First Time Homebuyer Downpayment Assistance Program. This program assists income-eligible first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs. See website for details and restrictions.
In the City of Kettering, first-time buyers may be eligible to receive up to $8,000 for down payment assistance and closing costs through Kettering Down Payment Assistance. The loan is a zero percent deferred second mortgage. Income limits and other restrictions apply, so visit the website for details.
Residents of Lorain may be interested in the Lorain Down Payment Assistance Program. Eligible first-time homebuyers may receive down payment assistance up to 50 percent of what the lender requires, with a maximum of $15,000. The assistance is offered in the form of a deferred, subordinate loan, which can be forgiven over a five-year period so long as buyer continues to live in the home as a primary residence. Other eligibility requirements apply, so be sure to visit the website to learn more.
Residents of Massillon may be eligible for Massillon’s Down Payment Assistance Program. To qualify, the applicant must be a first-time homebuyer, live on the property as a primary residence, and the property must be in the city limits of Massillon. Be sure to visit the website for additional resources and information.
First-time buyers in Montgomery County, excluding the cities of Kettering and Dayton, may be eligible to receive 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000 for down payment assistance and closing costs through Montgomery County Down Payment Assistance. The loan is a zero percent deferred second mortgage. Income limits and other restrictions apply, so visit the website for details.
The Neighborhood Housing Partnership (NHP) offers the Springfield Down Payment Assistance Program for qualified first-time buyers located in the City of Springfield. Maximum grant assistance is $5,000 and funds may be used for down payment assistance, closing costs, or eligible mortgage principal reduction. Other restrictions and eligibility requirements may apply, so visit the website for more information.
Your Dream Ohio Home
Whether you are a sports fan or an outdoor enthusiast, an ice cream aficionado or lover of the arts, Ohio has a little something for everyone. When shopping for your first home in this lovely gem of the Midwest, be sure to research and take advantage of the available financial assistance programs for new buyers. You will be settling into your dream Ohio home and soaking in the gorgeous views before you know it.
The links on this site were researched by NewHomeSource. This is as cohesive a list as possible. Individual homebuyers should contact entities to fully understand requirements and processes.
Melanie Theriault is a writer, counselor, and lifelong learner. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Southwestern University, where she discovered her passion for fostering human connection through storytelling.