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First-time homebuyer qualifications

Did you know that even if you’ve owned a home before, you might still qualify for first-time homebuyer (FTHB) mortgage programs? If you have questions about the “who, what and where” of FTHB, we have the answers!

Who qualifies as a first-time homebuyer?

Even if you’ve previously owned a home, mortgage programs and down payment assistance programs may still consider you a “first-time” homebuyer if you fit one or more of these conditions.

  • 1. Previous homeownership

    If you’re “an individual who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase of the property,” you will qualify as a first-time homebuyer as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. So it only makes sense that you should know what your credit score is before applying. To find your score, take advantage of the free report. Married couples may qualify for a first-time homebuyer mortgage even if only one meets this requirement.1

  • 2. Divorced parents

    If you’re a divorced or separated parent, and the only primary residence you’ve ever owned was with your ex-spouse, you can qualify as a first-time homebuyer.2

  • 3. Mobile home and RV ownership

    If you’ve owned a primary residence within three years, “but the primary residence you owned has not been permanently attached to something like a foundation (such as a mobile home or RV),”3 you may also have the opportunity to qualify as a first-time homebuyer.

  • 4. Damaged property owners

    If you’ve only owned property that has sustained damage as such “that was not in compliance with local building code ordinances and which cannot be improved to meet building code standards for less than the cost of constructing a new residence.”4

  • 5. Displaced homemakers

    If you’re a “displaced homemaker whose only previous ownership was with a spouse.”5 The Department of Housing and Urban Development  defines a displaced homemaker as an adult who “has not worked full-time, full-year in the labor force for a number of years but has, during such years, worked primarily without remuneration to care for the home and family; and is unemployed or underemployed and is experiencing difficulty in obtaining or upgrading employment.”6

Which mortgage programs are for first-time homebuyers?

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are one of the easiest mortgages to qualify for because they don’t require a large down payment, and they are more flexible with credit scores. FHA loans are widely used by first-time homebuyers and can require upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums.
  • Many states offer programs designed to help first-time buyers. Check out this list of homebuyer assistance programs available by state provided by
  • First-time homebuyers and individuals with incomes below area median levels can increase their buying power with a down payment assistance (DPA) program. They are available county-by-county to offer first-time homebuyers relief from the costs of purchasing a home. This assistance is provided in the form of a loan or grant–secured as a lien against the property–and is often forgiven over time.

To see if you are eligible to qualify for a first-time homebuyer program, connect with a Guild Mortgage loan officer today.

Where can I find first-time homebuyer tips?

The Guild Mortgage home loan guide offers answers to common questions, first-time homebuyer tips and online calculators to help you navigate the journey ahead.

*For full terms and conditions go to: Guild Mortgage is not affiliated with The Home Depot. The Home Depot is not a sponsor of this promotion. The Home Depot is a registered trademark of Home Depot Product Authority, LLC. All rights reserved.

The above information is for educational purposes only. All information, loan programs & interest rates are subject to change without notice. All loans subject to underwriter approval. Terms and conditions apply.

1HUD HOC Reference Guide First-Time Homebuyers – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

2FHA First-Time Homebuyer Definition – SFGATE

3First Time Home Buyer FAQ – Redfin

4Are You A First-Time Home Buyer? Be Aware Of These Mortgage Programs – Forbes

5Are You A First-Time Home Buyer? Be Aware Of These Mortgage Programs – Forbes

6ELIGIBILITY UNDER FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER PROGRAMS – The Department of Housing and Urban Development

By |Published On: September 23rd, 2019|Categories: Mortgage 101, Products and Programs|

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About the Author: Guild Mortgage

Founded in 1960 when the modern U.S. mortgage industry was just forming, Guild Mortgage Company is a nationally recognized independent mortgage lender providing residential mortgage products and local in-house origination and servicing. Guild’s collaborative culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion enable it to deliver a personalized experience for each customer. With more than 4,000 employees and over 250 retail branches, Guild has relationships with credit unions, community banks, and other financial institutions and services loans in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Guild’s highly trained loan professionals are experienced in government-sponsored programs such as FHA, VA, USDA, down payment assistance programs and other specialized loan programs. Guild Mortgage Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guild Holdings Company, whose shares of Class A common stock trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GHLD.