Many families fail to follow through on buying a home because they’re anticipating the expected 20% down at closing. But many don’t realize they have hundreds or thousands of dollars available to them!

Getting the down payment you need is now easier due to different assistance programs across the country. Homebuyer programs in the U.S. are underutilized, but actually very effective. There are three different types you can apply for: tax credits, grants, and certain types of interest-free loans. These were all created so you can get the keys to your new home.

When you research these programs, you’ll notice they’re offered by either a local or state housing authority, or through your mortgage lender. To be clear, you must be eligible and there are different qualifications to fulfill. Income, credit history, and property sale price are all considered when you apply. Other requirements include living on the property for a certain length of time, since the funds cannot be used for investment purposes.

Often these benefits are targeted to specific occupations, so if you are an active or retired member of the military, check in with your local VA office for more information. Through them you are eligible for a no-down-payment loan on the property. Those who work in the field of education or healthcare, or households with family members who are disabled, are also eligible for assistance.

Here’s an easy way to start your search online:

  • Begin with federal funding, including resources like the FHA (Federal Housing Administration).
  • Visit the website of your state’s department of housing, or search the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • Ask your lender. Sometimes they have special incentive programs to help first-time buyers or long-time customers into the property of their dreams.

Of course there’s no guarantee that you will receive aid because every situation is unique. But there’s no harm in getting the process started. You’ll be surprised how much aid you can qualify for if you simply ask!