There are a million reasons to make the move to New York State. Adventure seekers may pursue solace upstate in the mountains while city dwellers prefer to delight their senses in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. New York is truly a place for dreamers and doers, with some of the most world-renowned restaurants, museums, and nightclubs. If you are looking to purchase your first home in the city that never sleeps, you know that excitement is always around the corner.
For first-time homebuyers, the process can be a whirlwind. At times, it can seem like your dream home is just out of reach. If you are crunching the numbers and realize that you need a little boost to achieve your homeownership dreams, then state and local financial assistance programs may be able to help. Luckily, there are quite a few options to help residents of New York in purchasing their first home. We’ve compiled a list to help you get started.
Who Qualifies as a First-time Homebuyer in New York?
In New York, an individual who has not previously owned a home is considered a first-time homebuyer. There are some exceptions to this for specific programs, such as homeowners purchasing in a Targeted Area and some qualified veterans. When reviewing the guidelines for each program, check the requirements for exceptions.
Statewide First-Time Buyer Programs
The following program is available statewide to New York residents.
Achieving the Dream
The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) offers two competitive mortgage programs for first-time homebuyers. To assist new buyers in purchasing their dream home, Achieving the Dream provides qualified lower-income borrowers with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with minimal down payment required. Credit requirements and other eligibility restrictions apply, so be sure to check out their website for details.
Graduate to Homeownership Program
First-time homebuyers who are new graduates with an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree earned within the past 48 months from an academic program recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, may be eligible for SONYMA’s Graduate to Homeownership Program. This program offers a competitive 30-year fixed interest rate to qualified borrowers and can be combined with SONYMA’s down payment assistance opportunities. For more information, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit the SONYMA website.
NYSAR Housing Opportunities Foundation Grants
The New York State Association of Realtors Housing Opportunities Foundation, Inc. offers NYSAR Housing Opportunities Foundation Grants for first-time buyers in the state. Selected individuals who meet eligibility criteria through the application process may receive a grant of $2,000 to be applied towards down payment and closing costs. Other restrictions may 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.
Conventional Plus Program
The SONYMA Conventional Plus Program is available to both first-time and repeat buyers who meet specified income limits and other requirements. This 30-year fixed rate mortgage is combined with down payment assistance opportunities for individuals who are purchasing for their first time or refinancing an existing mortgage on their primary home. The Conventional Plus Program offers a lower monthly payment than most mortgages.
Low Interest Rate Program
The SONYMA Low Interest Rate Program offers competitive interest rates and low down payment options in a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Qualified borrowers are not required to be first-time buyers, but will need to meet other qualifications such as purchase price limits and income requirements. See website for more details and to apply.
Down Payment Assistance Loans
To assist homeowners in completing their down payment and closing cost requirements, SONYMA offers a Down Payment Assistance Loan in combination with any SONYMA mortgage program. These loans have a low interest rate, deferred monthly payments, and can be forgiven after 10 years if the borrower meets all requirements. See website for eligibility information and to apply.
Homes for Veterans Loans
For U.S. veterans, it is often a challenge to make homeownership a reality. To help remedy this problem, SONYMA offers a low-interest mortgage for qualified veterans through the Homes for Veterans Loans. This low-interest loan may be combined with SONYMA’s down payment assistance programs. For additional eligibility criteria, visit the SONYMA website.
Energy Star Labeled Homes Program
If you are planning to purchase an energy-efficient home, or may be interested in lowering your utility bill by installing energy efficient devices, be sure to check out the Energy Star Labeled Homes Program. This program is available to qualified buyers who are purchasing an Energy Star certified home to provide down payment and closing cost assistance. For more information, including eligibility requirements and details on what qualifies as an energy efficient home, visit the SONYMA website.
FHA Plus Program
The FHA Plus Program is similar to the Conventional Plus Program. This program combines an FHA-backed, 30-year fixed rate mortgage with down payment assistance for both first-time and repeat buyers. Other requirements and eligibility limitations are listed on the SONYMA website.
Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City
The Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City (NHSNYC) offers competitive mortgage options, as well as down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified borrowers. Residents purchasing a home anywhere in New York State may be eligible for up to $65,000 in a “gap loan” to assist with closing costs. For more information including eligibility criteria, visit the NHSNYC website.
Homebuyer Programs by Location
In addition to statewide programs, there are other homebuyer assistance programs based in different cities and counties in a state.
The Albany County Rural Housing Alliance HOME Down Payment Assistance Grant Program (DPA) offers financial assistance to qualified buyers who meet income and purchase price limits. Property must be located in Albany County, outside of the City of Albany. Other restrictions apply, so visit the website for more details.
For residents of the City of Auburn, Homsite’s Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) offers grants of up to $3,000 to put towards down payment and closing costs for qualified first-time buyers. Grants are restricted to specified income limits, but individuals who do not meet guidelines may still qualify for a low-interest loan. See website for details.
Residents of Babylon may be eligible for a grant to assist with down payment or closing costs through the Town of Babylon HOME Down Payment Assistance Program. Qualified first-time homebuyers must purchase in Babylon. Learn more by visiting their website.
Residents of Brookhaven may be eligible for a grant to assist with down payment or closing costs through the Town of Brookhaven HOME Down Payment Assistance Program. Qualified first-time homebuyers must purchase in Brookhaven. Be sure to visit the website for details.
First-time homebuyers in Erie County may take advantage of NeighborWorks® Community Partners Buffalo’s Downpayment and Closing-Cost Assistance Loan. Qualified borrowers may be eligible for $4,000-7,500 to apply towards down payment and closing costs. Eligibility requirements may apply, so be sure to visit the website for details.
Residents of Cortland County may qualify for the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation’s Affordable Home-Ownership Program through the Cortland Housing Assistance Council, Inc. and the Empire Development Corporation. This program offers subsidies to eligible first-time home buyers which can be applied to closing costs.
For residents of Essex County, the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County provides down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified first-time buyers. First-time buyer requirement may be waived if a buyer has not owned a home in the previous three years or is a displaced homemaker. See website for more information on how to apply.
INHS First-time homebuyer program offers up to $20,000 to be put towards down payment and closing costs for residents of Ithaca and the surrounding region. Qualified residents must be a first-time buyer and either live or work in Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Schuyler, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins Counties. Income limits apply. Be sure to visit the website for more information.
Residents of Long Island may be eligible for Margert’s First HOME Program funds in the form of a forgivable loan to put towards a down payment or closing costs. Qualified applicants must be a first-time homebuyer and meet other eligibility criteria, including income limits. Additionally, first-time buyers may be eligible for a low-interest loan for down payment and closing cost assistance through the Community Development Corporation of Long Island. Income requirements and other criteria apply, so be sure to visit the website for details.
The Nassau County HOME Down Payment Assistance Program offers eligible first-time homebuyers up to $25,000 in grant assistance for down payment and closing costs for homes in Nassau County. Income requirements and other eligibility criteria apply, so be sure to visit the website for details.
New York City
If you are interested in purchasing a home in the Big Apple, you may consider the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program. Qualified homebuyers may be eligible for up to $40,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance when purchasing a 1-4 family home, a condominium, or a cooperative and plans to reside in any of the five boroughs of New York City. Credit requirements and other eligibility criteria apply. Learn more on the website.
For income-eligible first-time homebuyers in Rensselaer County, the Rensselaer County Homebuyer Program offers down payment or closing cost assistance in the amounts of $15,000 and $20,000 to qualified borrowers. Applicants must reside in Rensselaer County, but outside of the City of Troy. See website for more information and eligibility criteria.
First-time homebuyers within the City of Schenectady may take advantage of the Schenectady Second Mortgage Program which provides down payment and closing cost assistance. Qualified borrowers may receive assistance in the form of a low interest loan. Other requirements may apply, so be sure to visit the website to learn more.
Residents of Suffolk County may be eligible for a grant to assist with down payment or closing costs through the Suffolk County Community Development Department. Qualified first-time homebuyers must purchase in Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton or Southold. Be sure to visit the website for details.
Home HeadQuarters offers both payback and deferred loans up to $4,000 to help qualified, first-time buyers cover closing costs for a home in the City of Syracuse and Central New York. The deferred loan is available on a first come, first served basis. Qualified borrower must be a first-time homebuyer. Other requirements may apply, so be sure to visit the website for details.
Residents of the City of Troy may be eligible for the City of Troy’s Homebuyer Incentive Program (HIP), available to income-eligible first-time homebuyers to assist with down payment or closing costs up to $20,000. Visit the website to learn more about income limits and eligibility criteria.
Purchase your Dream Home
Whether you enjoy the outdoor scenery or cityscapes, you can find your dream home in New York State. Local and state programs provide generous opportunities to help New Yorkers get started in purchasing their first home. Hopefully, this list will provide you with a few places to begin your research. Before you know it, you’ll be settling into your new life in the gorgeous state of New York.
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.