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Mortgage Programs for First Time Home Buyers


Buying your first home is a big deal, which is why we make a big deal out of helping you buy yours with confidence, so the home you love is the home you can afford. Borrow with First Commonwealth Bank to make the most of your financial situation when you buy your first home.

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What Matters When You're Buying a Home for the First Time

Homeownership comes with numerous financial responsibilities. Here's what you should consider when deciding to buy a home:

  • Your credit score: Your credit score tells lenders that you're reliable when it comes to making payments. Most conventional loans require a credit score of 620 or higher for approval, although a member of our mortgage team can share special programs we have depending on where you live.
  • Your monthly income and expenses: When you buy a home, determine the amount you can afford. Ideally, your mortgage would account for 28% or less of your monthly income before taxes.
  • Down payment assistance programs: You'll likely need a few thousand dollars ready at the time of purchase for your down payment and closing costs. The more you put down, the less you'll pay each month. You may be eligible for grants, loans and deferment options to help you make your down payment.
  • How much you can afford: This depends on your specific financial situation including your existing income and expenses, and there are also plenty of programs to help buyers afford their first home.

Who Counts as a First-Time Home Buyer?

Generally speaking, a first-time home buyer is someone purchasing their first home. However, there's actually more to it. You may qualify for first-time home buyer assistance even if you've owned property before. You may be eligible for first-time home buyer resources if:

  • It's been three years since you last owned a principal residence.
  • Your spouse has owned a home before but you haven't.
  • You're now single but owned a home with your former spouse.
  • You previously lived in a building that wasn't affixed to a foundation, such as a mobile home.
  • The only property you owned in the past didn't comply with relevant building codes and the cost of updating the structure would meet or surpass building a new one.

Take Advantage of the Benefits of Being a First-Time Homeowner

Buying a home is a major step and there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the situation. As a first-time home buyer, you have numerous beneficial options like state programs, tax breaks and federal loans. These options can help you obtain a loan, reduce your interest rate, lower your monthly payments and mitigate risk. Below are some of the options available to you as a first-time buyer.

Down Payment Assistance

With our First@Home1 program, first time home buyers can get the home of their dreams, even if your budget is tight and building a solid savings account has been tough. First@Home provides:

  • Down payment assistance with solutions as low as 1%.
  • Closing cost assistance.
  • Financial confidence planning and resources.
  • Credit repair counseling.

Watch the Abbott Story to see how this program helped our customers out of an unsafe apartment and into a home that fit their budget and their family.

FHA Mortgage Loans

Housing Finance Agencies exist to provide affordable housing for eligible families, giving you more options for buying your first home.

  • In Pennsylvania, the PHFA provides mortgage options through conventional and FHA loans, including fixed interest rates that won't change, and you may also receive assistance with closing costs and down payments. Income, prior ownership and asset restrictions do apply.
  • In Ohio, the OHFA also offers a mortgage tax credit, as well as down payment assistance programs.

FHA vs Conventional Home Mortgages

As a first time home buyer, you may also want to go the conventional route, with as low as a 3% down payment. The best solution depends on your personal situation. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Conventional mortgages aren't insured by a federal agency. Both types of mortgages have advantages and qualification requirements are different between the two options. Our team would love to talk you through the best options for you.

Discuss Your Situation With an Expert

At First Commonwealth Bank, we're here to help you understand all the options available to you as a first-time home buyer. Our mortgage team will recommend a borrowing strategy and help you see it through. We invite you to get in touch online to start the conversation or request an appointment to meet with us in person.

1First time home buyer program (no primary residence ownership within the past three (3) years). Product and eligibility guidelines apply, including credit and household income requirements. Product may not be available for your situation.