Home » Blog » 2024 Guide: First-Time Home Buyers VA: Programs, Grants & Tips
Your search results

2024 Guide: First-Time Home Buyers VA: Programs, Grants & Tips

Posted by Jake Maines on January 19, 2024

Welcome! You’ve decided to buy your first home, and Virginia is a fantastic place to call home. Understanding the process can be overwhelming, but don’t worry! With the correct information and guidance, first-time home buyers VA can quickly and confidently navigate the real estate market. Join me, Jake Maines, Virginia Beach Realtor, as I guide you through the essential 2024 guide for first-time home buyers in Virginia. Let’s embark on this thrilling journey to homeownership together!

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways For First-Time Home Buyers VA

  • First-time home buyers in Virginia have a few loan types to choose from, along with some unique down payment assistance and closing cost grants. These programs often offer specific benefits such as zero down payment and federal tax credits for mortgage interest. 
  • Applicants need to have sufficient credit and income stability to qualify for the Virginia Housing Down payment and closing cost assistance programs. Income limits apply to each program, and they vary by location. Consulting with an experienced mortgage loan officer is advised for professional guidance.
  • Virginia’s real estate market trends indicate an increase in first-time home buyers, a slight rise in home prices, and a growing number of home sales and new housing permits.
  • Homebuyer education courses offered by Virginia’s Housing Development Authority can provide valuable insights into the homebuying process, and you can find more information about their different programs by downloading their free e-book:
  • These courses offer a deep dive into the workings of the different Virginia Housing Programs and provide a thorough primer on the process of purchasing your first home.
  • Understanding interest rates and loan terms is crucial for first-time home buyers as these factors can significantly affect mortgage payments and the overall cost of the home.
  • First-time home buyers in Virginia comprise a significant portion of the market, accounting for 32% of all buyers in Virginia. This is a rise from the previous year when it was 26%.
  • Comprehensive guidance makes the journey to homeownership easier for first-time home buyers in Virginia. The Steps to Buying a House framework specifically caters to Virginia’s market, detailing all the essential stages. This structured approach ensures that first-time buyers are well-informed and prepared for a smooth homebuying experience.
  • For first-time home buyers in Virginia, understanding how much down payment is needed is crucial. Typically, down payments range from 3% to 20%, depending on the loan type and buyer’s financial situation.

Understanding Mortgage Options: FHA, VA, & USDA Loans

First Time Home Buyer Benefits In Virginia

FHA Loans: Affordable Accessibility For First-Time Home Buyers VA

Federal Housing Administration loans are popular for those with lower credit scores and higher debt-to-income ratios. These loans are government-backed, ensuring lenders are protected if a borrower defaults, which makes them more willing to lend to those who might not qualify for conventional loans. The FHA loan often requires a smaller down payment (as low as 3.5% even for those with lower credit scores.), making it more accessible for first-time home buyers or those with limited savings. Additionally, FHA loans’ mortgage interest rates and monthly mortgage insurance can be more lenient, further aiding borrowers.

FHA loans also allow for more flexibility with debt-to-income ratios, making it easier for borrowers with higher debt levels to qualify. They also allow gifts from family members, grants, or loans from non-profit organizations to be used towards the down payment, further easing the entry burden for first-time home buyers.

VA Loans: Special Benefits for Veterans and Active-Duty Military

Veterans Administration (VA) loans provide massive benefits for military members, veterans, and their spouses. The government guarantees these loans, which means they do not require monthly mortgage insurance, reducing the monthly payment for borrowers. VA loans also limit the amount buyers can be charged in closing costs and do not require a down payment, allowing more service men and women to purchase a home.

Additionally, VA loans offer competitive interest rates, often lower than conventional ones. They also do not have a prepayment penalty, allowing borrowers the flexibility to pay off their loans early without incurring additional costs. VA loans are an incredibly advantageous option for those who have served our country.

USDA Loans: Favorable Terms for Rural Homebuyers

USDA loans offer very low interest rates and are primarily geared toward homebuyers in rural areas. These loans require no down payment and offer 100% financing to eligible buyers. To qualify, buyers must meet specific income requirements, and the property must be located within an eligible rural area. The USDA loans also have lower mortgage insurance premiums than many other loan types, making the monthly payments more affordable. They also allow the seller to contribute up to 6% of the sales price towards the buyer’s closing costs, further reducing the upfront costs of purchasing a home. For those who qualify, a USDA loan can be paired with a second mortgage to help cover down payment and closing costs. USDA loans are a fantastic support for those looking to purchase in less urbanized areas of Virginia.

Conventional Loans For First-Time Home Buyers VA

The Virginia Housing Conventional Home Loan Program is an excellent option for those interested in purchasing a home in the state. This loan program allows first-time home buyers in VA and repeat buyers to acquire a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with competitive interest rates and reduced down payments as low as 0%, potentially with closing cost assistance.

VA Programs & Grants: Unlocking the Door to Your First Home

First Time Home Buyer Va

The Veterans Administration insures mortgages for veterans and active duty military members, allowing them to put zero down and have no monthly mortgage insurance. The VA Loan is offered through different mortgage companies. It can be an excellent way for veterans and their families to access homeownership with little money in the bank.

For first-time home buyers VA, Virginia Housing offers a grant program to assist veterans in achieving homeownership. Among these is the VA loan Closing cost assistance program, which provides veterans or active duty military personnel up to 2% of the purchase price to help with the closing costs associated with the VA Loan. Home buyers can also access Closing Cost Assistance Grants from Virginia Housing. At the same time, the program simplifies purchasing a house with support such as low down payments on conventional loans without requiring any mortgage insurance. There is an option for obtaining tax credits via a mortgage or tax credit certificate for part of your annual interest costs paid off yearly. It all depends on meeting specific criteria, including completing a home buyer education class set up, especially for newbies wanting to own a home.

These specified regulations are usually subject to income qualifications, but some come at zero cost due to not needing repayment once aid packages have been accepted.

The Granting Freedom Act: Aiding Veterans in Homeownership

First Time Home Buyers VA

The Granting Freedom Act is a significant initiative in Virginia to assist veterans and active-duty military personnel in achieving homeownership. This program simplifies purchasing a house by offering support such as low down payments on conventional loans without requiring mortgage insurance.

These modifications include widening doorways, installing ramps, or making bathrooms wheelchair accessible. The Granting Freedom Act aims to help veterans and active-duty military personnel live independently in homes that meet their needs.

To qualify for assistance under the Granting Freedom Act, applicants must be veterans or active-duty military personnel with a service-related disability. The disability must be the result of active service in the Armed Forces. The assistance depends on the cost of the necessary modifications and the applicant’s income.

The Granting Freedom Act is a testament to Virginia’s commitment to its veterans and active-duty military personnel. By providing financial assistance for necessary home modifications, the Act ensures that those who have served our country can enjoy the benefits of homeownership in a home that meets their unique needs.

Conventional Loans: Options for First-Time Home Buyers VA

Conventional No Mortgage Insurance

Conventional No Mortgage Insurance

For those with higher credit scores, the Virginia Housing Conventional Loan offers a significant advantage – the potential to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), also known as the “conventional no mortgage insurance” benefit. PMI is a type of insurance that borrowers typically pay if they put down less than 20% on a home. It protects the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan. However, with this program, borrowers can avoid this additional cost, making homeownership more affordable.

This program appeals to those who have diligently maintained a solid credit history and are interested in capitalizing on the benefits of a conventional loan with no mortgage insurance. The reduced down payment requirement and the potential to avoid PMI with a higher credit score make this an attractive option for many buyers.

The fixed-rate nature of the loan provides stability, as the interest rate will not change over the life of the loan. This allows for predictable monthly mortgage payments, making budgeting more manageable for homeowners.

Furthermore, the requirement for the loan to be used for the buyer’s primary residence ensures that this program’s benefits are directed toward those who genuinely need it rather than investors looking to flip properties for quick profit.

In addition, the set price limits for moderate incomes ensure that the Virginia Housing program is accessible to a broad range of potential homeowners, further promoting the goal of homeownership for as many Virginians as possible.

The Virginia Housing Development Authority oversees this program, ensuring it aligns to promote affordable homeownership in the state. Along with other Virginia Housing programs, this program is part of a broader effort to provide down payment and closing cost assistance to potential homeowners in Virginia.

Virginia Housing Conventional Home Loan Program

Apart from the Virginia Housing Conventional Home Loan Program, there are other conventional loan options that first-time home buyers can consider. These include:

Fannie Mae’s HomeReady Program

Fannie Mae’s HomeReady program is designed to help low- to moderate-income borrowers become homeowners. The program allows for a down payment as low as 3%, reduced mortgage insurance, and flexible underwriting guidelines. Borrowers can cancel their private mortgage insurance once their loan balance reaches 80% of the home’s value.

Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Program

Like Fannie Mae’s HomeReady, Freddie Mac’s Home Possible program is designed to help low- to moderate-income borrowers. The program allows for a down payment as low as 3% and does not require a minimum contribution from the borrower’s funds. This means the entire down payment and closing costs can come from a gift or grant.

Conventional 97 Loan

The Conventional 97 loan program, offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, allows first-time home buyers, regardless of income, to purchase a home with just a 3% down payment. The program also allows the entire down payment to be a gift from a relative or a grant from a down payment assistance program.

These conventional loan options can make homeownership more accessible for first-time home buyers. However, each program has specific eligibility requirements and guidelines, so potential borrowers need to work with a knowledgeable realtor and lender who can guide them through the process.

Accessing Down Payment Assistance in Virginia

The world of down payment assistance programs in Virginia can seem like a maze, but it becomes a manageable journey with the correct information and resources. Virginia has several options for a down payment assistance program designed to lighten the financial load of home purchases.

Down Payment Assistance.jpg

Down Payment Assistance Grant Options

One such down payment assistance program is the Virginia Housing Plus Second Loan, which offers down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a second mortgage. On the other hand, the HOMEownership Down Payment Assistance Program extends down payment and closing cost assistance to eligible first-time home buyers VA with low-to-moderate incomes.

The Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority Homeownership program is another excellent resource, providing down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time home buyers in Chesapeake.

The Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority’s HOME Program offers up to $60,000 to eligible first-time home buyers VA purchasing in the Mermaid City – Norfolk.

In addition to state-wide assistance programs, however, local initiatives like the Alexandria Flexible Home Ownership Assistance Program and the Virginia Beach Housing and Neighborhood Preservation’s Homeownership Program offer further support.

Moreover, the Down Payment Assistance Grant from Virginia Housing is a fantastic resource for first-time home buyers VA. This grant does not require repayment and can be a significant financial lifeline for new homeowners.

However, it’s crucial to remember that these programs often have specific requirements based on factors like income level, family size, and credit score. Most of these programs involve repayment over time using second mortgages or deferred loans. However, some programs, like the down payment assistance grant mentioned above, do not require repayment if certain conditions are met upfront.

The specifics of these programs can change, so interested applicants need to check their program’s website for the most current information regarding availability, eligibility criteria, and application processes.

Navigating the landscape of down payment help in Virginia can be challenging, but it’s more than achievable with the right resources and guidance. Remember, the goal is to make homeownership achievable and sustainable, and these programs, especially the down payment grants and assistance grants, are here to help you do just that and gain access to the Virginia housing market.

Closing the Deal with Closing Cost Assistance

Navigating the path to homeownership is a thrilling journey but can also be filled with complexities. One of the hurdles that first-time home buyers often encounter is closing costs. These fees need to be paid at the end of the home-buying process, and they can include costs for things like title insurance, appraisal, homeowners insurance, settlement fees, and origination fees. But fear not, first-time home buyers in Virginia are provided valuable assistance to manage these costs through the Closing Cost Assistance Grant (CCA) offered by Virginia Housing.

The (CCA) Closing Cost Assistance Grant is a fantastic resource that offers up to 2.5% of your home’s purchase price to help cover these closing costs. What’s the best part? You don’t have to pay it back. This grant can be a significant financial relief, allowing you to focus more on the excitement of your new home rather than worrying about these additional costs.

Individuals must meet minimum credit score requirements to be eligible for this grant. They must also complete the qualifications for a down payment program to be considered for the grant funds from the CCA Program. The grant is compatible with Conventional Loans, FHA Loans, USDA loans, and VA-backed mortgages, providing first-time buyers with additional help to cover closing expenses not covered elsewhere.

The maximum amount available for these applicants is no more than 2.5 percent of the total cost of their home’s purchase price. This can significantly reduce the initial financial burden, making the dream of homeownership a more attainable reality.

Remember, while this grant provides significant help, budgeting for other potential costs associated with buying a home, such as moving expenses, home repairs, and furniture, is crucial. Homeownership is a rewarding journey, and with resources like the Virginia Housing’s CCA Grant, it’s a journey that is within your reach.

Applying for a Mortgage in VA: Path to Homeownership

Payment Assistance Grant

In Virginia, securing a mortgage is a crucial step in your journey toward homeownership. This process involves getting preapproved through a local lender to see your options. They will examine your income, credit, and assets to determine eligibility. Try to get at least two different options, including a first-time home buyer program. Once you have a preapproval letter and an idea of your purchasing power, you can shop for a home.

Benefits Of Buying A Home In Virginia for First-Time Home Buyers

first-home buyers va

first-home buyers va

In Virginia, buying a home has numerous advantages that set it apart from many other states. The state provides various incentives to first-time home buyers, such as grants for down payments and government tax reliefs. While the cost of living is slightly above the national average, Virginia offers an exceptional quality of life, making it a worthwhile investment.

Meanwhile, the cost of living in Virginia offers an exceptional quality of life, making it a worthwhile investment. Virginia’s costs are reasonable compared to states like Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, where housing and utility costs are significantly higher. When looking at the cost of living across the nation, Virginia ranks comfortably in the middle, offering a balance of affordability and quality. Furthermore, the state’s robust economy, excellent education system, and rich history and culture more than compensate for this. The state’s vibrant communities and picturesque landscapes make it an attractive place for homeownership.

Financing Your First Home: Understanding Interest Rates & Loan Terms

Financing Your First Home

As a first-time home buyer, one of the critical aspects to understand is how interest rates and loan terms can significantly affect your mortgage payments and the overall cost of the home.

Interest rates, essentially the cost of borrowing money, are determined by various factors such as the state of the economy, inflation, and your credit score. A lower interest rate means lower monthly payments and less money paid over the life of the loan. Current live mortgage rates in Virginia can be found online or through various financial institutions. It’s crucial to compare rates from different lenders to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Loan terms refer to the length of time you have to repay the loan. Typical loan terms are 15, 20, or 30 years. While a longer term means lower monthly payments, it also means you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. For example, a 30-year loan will have lower monthly payments than a 15-year loan, but you’ll pay more interest over the 30 years.

It’s also essential to understand the difference between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. A fixed-rate mortgage means your interest rate won’t change over the life of the loan, making your payments predictable. In contrast, an adjustable-rate mortgage has an interest rate that can change over time, which could make your payments go up or down.

Another key term to understand is the annual percentage rate (APR). The APR includes the interest rate and other costs such as broker fees, discount points, and closing costs. The APR gives you a more comprehensive view of the true cost of the loan.

Lastly, understanding the concept of points can help you secure a lower interest rate. One point equals 1% of the loan amount and is paid upfront to lower your interest rate. If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, paying points could save you money in the long run.

Understanding these aspects of financing your first home is crucial in making an informed decision and securing a mortgage that fits your financial situation. Remember, the goal is to become a homeowner and be financially sustainable and beneficial in the long run.

Benefits of First-Time Home Buyer VA Education Courses

The Benefits of Homebuyer Education Courses

Homebuyers in Virginia can comprehensively understand the home-buying process by attending a homebuyer education course hosted by the state’s Housing Development Authority. These courses benefit anyone considering purchasing a property as they cover all aspects of acquiring it, including locating, financing, taxes, title insurance fees, and HOA expenses. Participants will gain an understanding of lawyer/title costs and prepayment options while learning how to make an informed decision throughout every step of the process. These homebuyer education courses are a valuable resource for first-time buyers, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to navigate the housing market confidently.

Personal Story of a First-Time Home Buyer VA

As a realtor in Virginia Beach, it has been a privilege to have assisted many of my clients in finding the best home suitable for their preferences. One delighted individual expressed his contentment with how I devoted attention and applied my vast understanding of local housing market conditions instead of looking out for what they wanted.

Buying our first house was definitely a stressful idea! But working with Jake made everything so much easier! He is such a down to earth guy and always answered any questions and helped us through the process without complaints! We know we can be difficult and picky and Jake made sure to keep everything in mind when helping us look for a house! I’m not even sure how many houses we dragged him too to look at and how many times we said nope not this one, but he stuck with us! He answers calls and texts at almost any time of the day! Thank you Jake for being such a great realtor! Definitely recommend!” – Tessa KeAla

My other customers’ reports also serve as sources of assurance and motivation when fulfilling one’s ambition for home ownership. This reinforces why choosing wisely is vital in selecting the right partner realtor who can help you realize this goal effectively.

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers VA: Maximizing Your Investment

As a first-time home buyer in VA, making wise decisions and maximizing the value of your purchase is crucial. You must stay clear from acting impulsively or opting for a property without getting preapproved for a mortgage and know what price range falls within affordability when budgeting for housing costs. Proactively safeguarding yourself against costly mistakes can be done by saving up ahead of time, clarifying how much house you could afford financially, boosting credit standing if possible before starting to search, and familiarizing yourself with various loan solutions; there may also be grants available exclusively intended to aid those entering homeownership! Check out our list of the 15 top insider tips to buying a home for the first time for additional information you may not have thought of.  

First-time home buyers in Virginia have significantly impacted the real estate market this year, constituting 32% of all buyers, which marks a notable increase from the previous year. Data from November indicates a 7.3% increase in home prices, rising housing sales, and new permits. Various factors, including demographic changes, availability of interest rates, economic growth, and local market elements such as supply constraints, influence these movements.

First-time home buyers must be well-informed about current trends when making real estate decisions. Understanding these trends can help them navigate the market more effectively. For instance, the median age of a first-time buyer in Virginia changed from 36 years old in 2022 to 35 years old in 2024, reflecting a slightly older but more diverse group. Additionally, about two-thirds of Virginian households owned their homes as of 2022, which is higher than the nationwide homeownership rate. However, the homeownership rate in Virginia has declined, likely due to affordability challenges in some regional housing markets.

Virginia offers a variety of programs to support first-time home buyers VA with down payments and closing costs. These programs have specific income, residency, and property location requirements. Furthermore, Virginia Housing provides loan programs, grants, and education for first-time buyers, including conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loans.

By being aware of these trends and available programs, first-time home buyers in Virginia can make more informed decisions and utilize resources and assistance tailored to their needs. For more detailed information, you can explore the following resources:


  • Virginia Housing Programs: Virginia Housing
  • First-Time Home buyer Programs in Virginia: NerdWallet
  • Virginia Real Estate Market Trends: Zillow

Tools for the Trade: Online Resources for Buyers

There are many helpful online materials that first-time home buyers VA can access to ease their understanding of mortgages and loan options in Virginia. My website, jakemainesrealtor.com, and other sites like ratifiedtitle.com and nerdwallet.com, offer real estate guidance and provide mortgage comparison tools plus calculators for calculating monthly payments so buyers can make informed decisions.

Picture of Jake Maines, Virginia Beach Realtor

Jake Maines, Virginia Beach Realtor

Jake Maines is a Virginia Beach Realtor known for his market knowledge and exceptional client service. His real estate journey, beginning in 2020, showcases a successful transition from marketing to realty and investing, marked by a passion for helping clients find their dream homes. Recognized as one of Inside Business 40 Under 40 and ranking in the top 8% of Hampton Roads Realtors in his first year, Jake's accolades affirm his expertise. A member of NAR and HRRA, he upholds the highest ethical standards. Community involvement and continuous professional development make him a trusted, authoritative Virginia Beach real estate expert.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re a first-time home buyer in Virginia looking to take advantage of several types of loan programs, specific requirements, such as income limits and caps on the sales price set for your new property, must be met. It’s mandatory to complete an education course about purchasing homes before being approved by an accepted lender.

Read our article for more detailed insights on the minimum down payments required to buy a house, including various loan programs and criteria, or talk to Jake.

In Virginia, those buying a home for the first time may be eligible to receive up to 2.5% of their purchase price as part of a grant with income limits that does not need repaying and is compatible with a Virginia Housing Mortgage.
For Virginians, a first-time home buyer is someone who has yet to own any real estate in the last three years.
VA loans offer advantageous terms, such as the possibility of a no-down payment requirement, allowing veterans and active-duty military personnel to realize their dream of owning a home more easily. This can open doors for those seeking homeownership by eliminating one significant barrier they may have faced otherwise.
The Payment Assistance Grant in Virginia is a program offered by Virginia Housing to assist first-time home buyers with their down payment and closing costs. This payment grant does not require repayment and can provide significant financial relief for new homeowners. However, it’s important to note that eligibility for this payment grant often has specific requirements based on factors like income level, family size, and credit score. For the most current information regarding availability, eligibility criteria, and application processes, it’s recommended to check Virginia Housing’s official website.
The Rural Housing Service is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It plays a significant role in assisting first-time home buyers in rural areas of Virginia by offering a loan that covers 100% financing. This means that eligible buyers are not required to make a down payment. This is a significant advantage for those struggling to save for a substantial down payment. This loan is designed to make homeownership more accessible in less urbanized areas of Virginia, supporting the local economies and communities in these regions.
Virginia Housing’s Plus Loan is available to both first-time home buyers and subsequent buyers. You can own up to 2 other homes and still get up to 100% financing.

First-Time Home Buyers VA: For More Info

For Expert First-Time Home Buyer Advice: Contact Jake Maines Today!

    Are you looking to begin your experience as a homeowner in Virginia, or have some questions? Look no further. As a trusted Virginia Beach Realtor, I offer services for experienced investors and those buying their first home. My specialty is supporting the entire process of purchasing and selling Virginia Beach Homes For Sale while providing helpful advice.

    I’m here to help first-time home buyers every step of the way through the process. This guide has discussed numerous topics, from understanding different programs and grants available for purchasing your initial house to learning about various mortgages and real estate trends to acquiring knowledge on maximizing investment returns when buying property. 

    Compare Listings