Gorgeous natural areas, a booming tech industry, and every opportunity to soak in life’s most beautiful moments make Washington State feel like a paradise at home. Unofficially nicknamed “The Evergreen State,” this gem of the Pacific Northwest lives up to the title in two ways: First, as a region known for its breathtaking emerald forests and national parks, and second, for its expanding wealth in the global business and technology industries.
It’s easy to see why Washingtonians love where they live. The state’s impressive evergreen areas, richly colorful landscapes, abundance of lakes, streams, and rivers, as well as its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean make Washington the ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Mountain climbers and hikers venture to the state for an opportunity to trek one of over 100 mountain peaks. And, as we all know, easy access to the great outdoors leads to healthier lifestyle habits and increased quality of life, only making the cherry on top of this deal even sweeter!
Aside from the abundance of outdoor activities, Washington State is also known for its robust economy and job growth. Specifically, Seattle has become one of the fastest growing hubs for technology and innovation in the country, attracting professionals from all over the globe. Additionally, Seattle boasts headquarters for several business giants such as Boeing, Microsoft, Nordstrom, and Starbucks, making the state an excellent place to land a corporate position in a fast-growing job market.
On the flip side, these opportunities often come with a hefty price tag, particularly in the metropolitan areas of the state. For many first-time homebuyers, this can be daunting at first look. The good news is, there are quite a few state and local financial assistance opportunities for first-time homebuyers to help with your first mortgage, down payment and closing costs, so you can move into your dream Washington home sooner than you ever imagined!
Who Qualifies as a First-Time Homebuyer in Washington?
In Washington, a first-time homebuyer is classified as any individual who has not owned and occupied a primary residence during the previous three years. In some cases, repeat buyers who are purchasing homes in targeted areas may be considered eligible for first-time buyer programs. When researching each program, follow the website link to read additional eligibility guidelines.
Statewide First-Time Buyer Programs
The following programs are available statewide to Washington residents.
House Key Opportunity Loan and Down Payment Assistance Programs
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) offers the House Key Opportunity Loan Program for moderate and low-income first-time homebuyers. Qualified applicants must meet specified income and acquisition cost limits, in addition to other requirements. When paired with the Opportunity Downpayment Assistance Loan Program, qualified first-time homebuyers may be eligible for up to $10,000 in down payment assistance in a payment-deferred, second mortgage with a 1 percent interest rate. See website for more information.
HomeChoice Down Payment Assistance Loan Program
The WSHFC’s HomeChoice Downpayment Assistance Loan Program offers a second mortgage loan up to $15,000 to put towards down payment and closing costs for qualified borrowers with a disability or live with a family member who has a disability. HomeChoice is combined with the Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity first mortgage program. See website for more information.
Veterans Down Payment Assistance Loan Program
The WSHFC’s Veterans Downpayment Assistance Loan Program offers a 3 percent interest second mortgage loan. Payments may be deferred up to 30 years for Washington State veterans who have received an honorable discharge or never remarried spouses with dependent children of deceased veterans. Qualified applicants must be first-time borrowers and meet other eligibility requirements. This program combines with either Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity first mortgage loan program. See website to learn more.
Another option for first-time homebuyers in Washington is the HomeSight program. HomeSight offers purchase assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers through low-interest loans, and is available by area and also statewide. See website for details and to determine if you qualify.
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.
Home Advantage Loan and Down Payment Assistance
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission offers the Home Advantage Program to assist homebuyers in purchasing their new home at a competitive interest rate. Participating lenders may qualify eligible applicants for a 30-year mortgage as long as they meet specified criteria including income limits and credit requirements.
Qualified applicants may also be eligible for Home Advantage Down Payment Assistance of up to 4 percent of the first mortgage loan amount in the form of a zero-interest, payment-deferred second mortgage. Additionally, borrowers who meet specified income limits may qualify for WSHFC’s Home Advantage Downpayment Assistance Needs Based Program, which offers up to $10,000 in down payment assistance in the form of a payment-deferred second mortgage with 1 percent interest rate. See website for details and other eligibility requirements.
Homebuyer Programs by Location
In addition to statewide programs, there may also be homebuyer assistance programs based in different cities and regions of a state. The programs below are local opportunities for homebuyers in Washington.
First-time homebuyers looking to reside in Bellingham may be eligible for Bellingham Downpayment Assistance Loan Program if they meet specified income and purchase price limits in addition to other requirements. This program offers up to $40,000 in down payment assistance in the form of a payment-deferred, 3 percent simple interest second mortgage loan. Since it is offered through the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, the program must be combined with either the Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity. See website for more information and requirements.
Qualified borrowers who are interested in settling down in East King County Area may be eligible for the ARCH East King County Downpayment Assistance Loan Program offered through the WSHFC. This program offers up to $30,000 in down payment assistance in a second mortgage loan at 4 percent simple interest when combined with the Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity first loan program. See website for income limits and other eligibility requirements. This program is not restricted to first-time homebuyers.
The City of Kennewick uses HOME funds to promote affordable opportunities for homeownership within city limits. The Kennewick First Time Homebuyers Downpayment Assistance Program provides up to $10,000 in assistance to eligible borrowers. Eligible applicants must be first-time homebuyers and meet specified income limits and other criteria. See website for details and to apply.
Residents of Kitsap County may be eligible for deferred down payment assistance through the Kitsap County Homeownership Program. This program is available through Community Frameworks, a local development nonprofit organization. For more information regarding benefits and eligibility, be sure to visit the website.
As a member of the Tri-Cities HOME Consortium (consisting of Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland), the City of Pasco also offers down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers. The Pasco Down Payment Assistance (DPA) may provide up to $10,000 in a forgivable loan to put towards down payment and closing costs for income-qualified participants. For details and eligibility criteria, be sure to visit the website.
Residents of Pierce County may be interested in learning more about the Pierce County Downpayment Assistance Loan Program offered by the WSHFC. This program must be combined with either the Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity loan program. Eligible borrowers may receive up to $24,900 in the form of a 3-percent simple interest second mortgage loan with payments deferred for up to 30 years. This program is restricted to first-time homebuyers and eligible applicants are subject to income and purchase price limits in addition to other requirements. See website for details.
The City of Richland, as member of the Tri-Cities HOME Consortium, is also able to offer down payment assistance to help low and moderate-income potential homebuyers. The Richland Down Payment Assistance program provides up to $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance to qualified applicants. See website for details or to apply.
As one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, Seattle is one of the most popular places in the state to call home. First-time homebuyers may be interested in the Seattle Downpayment Assistance Loan Program through the WSHFC. This program, when combined with the Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity loan program, offers qualified borrowers up to $55,000 in down payment assistance in the form of a second mortgage loan with deferred payments for up to 30 years and 3 percent simple interest. Borrowers are subject to income limits and other restrictions.
First-time homebuyers seeking down payment assistance in Seattle may be eligible for funding through organizations aside from the WSHFC. The Seattle Office of Housing partners with local nonprofits and lending institutions to assist first-time buyers at or below 80 percent of area median income. For a current list of local homeownership organizations and to learn more about specific eligibility criteria, be sure to check out their website.
In addition to offering a program in Kitsap County, Community Frameworks also provides down payment assistance to residents of the Spokane Area. The HomeStarts program in Spokane offers deferred down payment assistance lending to qualified buyers. See website for more information.
First-time homebuyers in Tacoma may be eligible for the Tacoma Downpayment Assistance Loan Program through WSHFC. This program offers up to $20,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a payment-deferred second mortgage at 4 percent simple interest. Borrowers must first be eligible for the Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity Loan program. Income limits and other restrictions apply, so be sure to check out the website for details.
Plant Your Roots in Washington
Tech professionals, outdoor enthusiasts, and adventure seekers alike are drawn to the beauty and allure of The Evergreen State. Wherever you may be in the homebuying process, I hope this list of programs offers you a place to start your research. In no time, you’ll be moving into your dream home in the gorgeous state of Washington.
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.