The state of Oregon boasts a stunning blend of natural beauty, cultural vibrancy, and an exploratory spirit. Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon offers a diverse landscape that ranges from forests and rugged coastlines to majestic mountains and high-desert plains. With its vibrant cities, like Portland, known for their creativity and innovation, Oregon also showcases a thriving cultural scene, artisanal culinary delights, and a commitment to sustainability.
Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a foodie, or an outdoor adventurer, Oregon has something special to offer. If you’re buying your first home in the beautiful state of Oregon, read on to learn what loans, programs, and resources might be available to meet your needs.
Benefits of Being a First-Time Homebuyer
Generally, a first-time homebuyer is considered to be anyone who has not owned a principal residence in the last three years. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has various other circumstances under which homebuyers qualify as first-time homebuyers.
There are several benefits to being a first-time homebuyer. They include:
Down payment and closing costs assistance: There are many down payment and closing costs assistance programs available to first-time homebuyers. They can include government programs at both the state and local levels, programs offered by non-profit organizations, as well as lender-offered programs.
New American Funding offers an assistance program for first-time homebuyers called The Pathway to Homeownership. Specifically available to first-time homebuyers, eligible borrowers may receive up to $8,000* in financial assistance. This money can be used to help with your down payment, closing costs, or other costs depending on what you qualify for. It can also be combined with other DPA programs.
Educational resources: There are many educational resources available for first-time homebuyers. They are offered by a variety of organizations including government agencies like HUD, private companies like Fannie Mae, and non-profit organizations.
Low or no down payments: There are several loans that may be available to first-time homebuyers that offer low or no down payments. These include FHA, VA, and USDA loans. Each loan comes with its own set of unique applicable qualifications in addition to the requirements of the lender offering them.
Qualifications for First-Time Homebuyers in Oregon
Oregon uses HUD’s definition of a first-time homebuyer. Someone is qualified as a first-time buyer if they have not owned a principal residence in the last three years. HUD sets the national standard for first-time buyers. They have more eligibility guidelines in addition to the three-year qualification, so make sure to check with your Loan Officer to see if you qualify as a first-time buyer.
First-Time Homebuyer Statics in Oregon
Median home price in Oregon: According to data from RealtyTrac, the median home price for homes sold in Oregon in October 2023 was $498,939.
Minimum down payment in Oregon: The minimum down payment a borrower may put down on a home in Oregon depends on the loan. The down payment can be as low as 0% (USDA and VA loans), 3% (Conventional loans), or 3.5% (FHA loans).
First-Time Homebuyer Assistance Programs in Oregon
The Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) works with lenders to offer numerous programs for first-time homebuyers including:
Mortgage Credit Certificate Program (MCC): Oregon is one of the states that offers MCC. This is a first-time homebuyer tax credit program that offers a tax credit based on the amount of mortgage interest paid. The actual value of the tax credit depends on the homebuyer’s unique tax situation. MCCs may also be combined with other assistance programs.
Homeownership Programs Down Payment Assistance: The OHCS offers down payment assistance that is paired with one of their lending programs. This assistance takes the form of a second forgivable loan that may be used to pay mortgage-related costs and expenses including down payment, closing costs, and mortgage insurance.
Homeowner Assistance Fund: This is a $90 million fund was provided by the U.S. Treasury to the OHCS to provide eligible borrowers with financial assistance. This program may not be used in conjunction with other programs and has its own requirements including location and income requirements.
Oregon homebuyer assistance programs each have unique eligibility requirements and qualifications. In addition to the ones offered by the OHCS, there are more localized programs within various cities in Oregon. It is important to research these programs individually since the requirements will be different from anything your lender offers.
How to Apply for First-Time Homebuyer Loan Programs in Oregon
The details of the application process for various loan programs are dependent upon which program and your specific needs and circumstances. However, there are some basic steps that are the same across the loan application process. They are:
Step 1: Assess your finances
Your budget: Figuring out how much money you need to spend on a home is the first step on your homebuying journey. You’ll want to consider various things like the size and location of the home you want as well as things like down payment amount, interest rates, and homeowners insurance. Using a mortgage calculator can help you determine your budget as well as explore the effects of changing different factors like your loan term.
Credit: Your credit score is a significant factor in which loans you can qualify for as well as the terms and conditions of those loans. Different loans require different minimum credit scores. For instance, Conventional home loans require a minimum of 620, while an FHA loan can go as low as 500 with a certain down payment amount.
Lenders don’t just look at your credit score. They also view your credit and repayment history. They take into account how many lines of credit you have open as well, how consistently you make payments, as well as how much credit card debt you have overall. When you go to apply for a loan, you’ll want to check your credit score first, so you have a good idea of what to expect.
If your score is low, consider taking steps to raise it before applying for a home loan. NAF has partnered with Uqual, a loan readiness company, to give borrowers an opportunity to increase their ability to qualify for a loan. Uqual provides tools and resources, like credit management, to help borrowers build up their financial situation to improve lendability.
Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): Your DTI is your monthly income compared to your debt obligations each month. The most your DTI should be prior to factoring in a mortgage loan is 28%, while it should not exceed 50% when you include your mortgage loan. The DTI is one way to measure your ability to pay all of your bills and is often considered by lenders.
Down payment: How much you will need for a down payment depends on the type of mortgage you have as well as your credit score when you apply. Loans with lower or no down payment required like FHA loans are typically popular among first-time homebuyers. With an FHA loan, you only need 3.5% of the purchase price of the home as a down payment.
Here are the down payment requirements for other types of home loans:
- Conventional 97: 3%
- Conventional loans: 3% - 20%
- VA loans: no down payment
- USDA loans: no down payment
Step 2: What type of mortgage to get?
Fixed or Adjustable: “Fixed” vs “adjustable” refers to the relationship between mortgage rates and your loan agreement. A mortgage rate is the interest rate you pay on your home loan. They change daily and are influenced by fluctuations in the market including current affairs, economic shifts, and government decisions.
A Fixed-Rate loan is a loan structure where the interest rate stays the same over the life of the loan. An Adjustable-Rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that can adjust periodically depending on the terms of the loan.
Fixed-Rate loans offer the stability of predictable monthly loan payments that won’t be influenced by changes in the market. This can make it easier for borrowers, particularly those buying a home for the first time, to budget and save since there won’t be any surprises.
Adjustable-Rate loans offer higher upfront savings initially with lower introductory rates and smaller monthly payments. However, once the introductory period is over, the loan will continue to adjust periodically to different market rates over the life of the loan.
There are also many loan types available to borrowers. Each one has their own qualifications and benefits. Check with your Loan Officer to see which loan might be right for your unique needs.
Step 3: Get a quote from your lender
Step 4: Get pre-approved for a mortgage
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a must before you start looking for a home, which means speaking to a lender. Your Loan Officer will look over your credit and verify your income and assets according to your W2s, tax returns, bank statements, and paychecks.
Having your pre-approval letter is almost a requirement for a real estate agent to show you houses or have sellers accept any offers you may make.
This letter will likely include the maximum amount they will lend you. This does not mean that you have to spend the full amount. It is best to consider your options and not take out more than you are comfortable with.
Pre-approval can give you an idea of what types of houses may be in your budget before you start shopping.
Step 5: Find a real estate agent
Finding a reliable real estate agent is a key part of the homebuying process. Take your time and choose an agent you are comfortable with. NAF Homes**, an affiliate of NAF, can connect you with local real estate agents and agencies in your area.
Step 6: Shop for your dream home
Enjoy the process of shopping for the home of your dreams. Visit open houses, check listings, and drive through neighborhoods you’re interested in to see if anything catches your eye.
Step 7: Hire a home inspector
You’ll want to hire a home inspector before you make an offer on a home that you like. A home inspection will tell you what state the house is in and let you know any needed repairs. They’ll examine the house in detail, looking for things like potential water damage, rotting wood, and other damage that will need to either be repaired before you close on the home or that you and the seller will come to an agreement on about whose responsibility it is. Having your home inspected is often a lender requirement for loan approval.
Step 8: Be prepared to make an offer
When preparing to make an offer on a home, you’ll need to keep several factors in mind. Consider your budget and the current conditions of the market, as well as the costs of any needed repairs that you’ll be responsible for. You can also research the area to contextualize the seller’s asking price.
Step 9: Negotiate closing costs
Negotiating closing costs is a common practice that can be particularly beneficial to first-time homebuyers. Closing costs are the final fees and costs that homebuyers have to pay before they complete the purchase of their house. Closing costs are usually between 2%-5% of the home’s purchase price and can include things like the appraisal fee, processing fee, and transfer taxes.
You can negotiate closing costs with your seller, your lender, and your real estate agent.
Step 10: Find homeowners insurance and close on your home
Homeowners insurance provides financial protection for your home and property in case of certain disasters. These can include natural disasters like flooding or fires, or incidents like burglary. Since lenders are financially tied to your home and property, they generally require you to have homeowners insurance before you can close on your home.
Traditional First-Time Homebuyer Programs
Conventional loans: Conventional loans are the most common of home loans. They are not backed by any government agency and are, instead, governed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since they are not guaranteed by the government, they can sometimes have fewer restrictions than government-backed loans.
The down payment on a Conventional loan can be as low as 3%, the minimum credit score required is 620, and in general, they have a max DTI of 43%. Some lenders will accept a higher DTI with certain conditions and down payments range from 3%-20% depending on your individual credit profile and income.
FHA loans: FHA loans are home loans that are backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA does not administer the loans itself, but it works with approved lenders, like New American Funding, to administer these mortgages. FHA loans are popular with first-time homebuyers due to their more flexible credit, DTI, and down payment options.
FHA loans allow a minimum credit score of 500-580 depending on how much down payment you are able to put down. The down payment requirement is 3.5%-10% depending on your credit score and your DTI can be as high as 57% under certain circumstances.
USDA loans: USDA loans are mortgages that are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They do not require a down payment, but you may be able to lower your interest rate by putting more money down. USDA loans allow for a minimum credit score of 580 and they allow for closing cost assistance.
USDA loans also have 100% financing for qualified borrowers and do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI). There are no occupational requirements to qualify, however the property must be in an eligible geographic area. You can search the address of the property you are interested in to see if it qualifies.
VA loans: VA loans are mortgages that are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are only available to eligible veterans, military servicemembers, and spouses. They were designed to enable military members to achieve their dreams of homeownership and come with many benefits.
VA loans also do not require a down payment, they offer lower interest rates, and have no monthly mortgage insurance premiums.
In addition to the federal requirements of each loan, there will be other applicable requirements and qualifications from your lender. Connect with NAF today and one of our Loan Officers will be happy to answer your questions and help you find the right loan program for your unique needs.
Mortgage Rates in Oregon
A mortgage rate is the interest rate that you pay on your home loan. They change daily based on various factors and changes in the housing market and the national and global economy. The interest rate on your loan will also depend your personal financial profile, such as your credit score, income, and DTI.
Oregon First-Time Homebuyer FAQs
Is there an income limit for first-time homebuyers in Oregon?
There is no general income limit for first-time homebuyers in Oregon. However, various loans and assistance programs have their own income requirements.
Can a person with low income buy a house in Oregon?
Yes. Oregon has resources and home loans available that may be able to help a person with low income buy a home. The state does not have a minimum income requirement to purchase a home. As long as you are approved for whatever loan or program you are applying for, you are free to buy a home.
Does Oregon have first-time buyers programs?
Yes, Oregon has several first-time homebuyer programs available. They offer down payment assistance and homebuyer education courses and counseling. Check with the OHCS to see details about their homebuyer programs.
How much does a first-time buyer have to put down in Oregon?
How much a first-time homebuyer has to put down on a home depends on the loan type and their unique financial profile. For example, VA loans offer zero down payment, while the down payment on a Conventional loan can be anywhere between 3%-20%.
What credit score does a first-time homebuyer need to buy a home in Oregon?
The credit score needed by a first-time homebuyer in Oregon will depend on the loan type you are applying for as well as your financial situation. For instance, FHA loans may allow a credit score as low as 500 with a high enough down payment. For Conventional loans, a minimum credit score of 620 is generally required.
*Due to maximum seller concession rules, discount can be less than $25,000 in some cases where other concessions have been made to the consumer.
** NAF Homes, Inc. is an affiliate of New American Funding and does not originate mortgage loans or issue loan commitments. NAF Homes, Inc. is a MI Real Estate Broker #6505431109, Tel. 844-626-1300.
NMLS #6606. www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org. Terms and Conditions Apply. This is not a loan commitment or guarantee of any kind. Loan approval and rate are dependent upon borrower credit, collateral, financial history, and program availability at time of origination. Rates and terms are subject to change without notice. All mortgage loan products are subject to credit and property approval. © New American Funding, LLC. New American and New American Funding are registered trademarks of New American Funding, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Corp Office 14511 Myford Rd, Ste 100, Tustin, CA 92780. Ph 800-450-2010.