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All You Need to Know About First-Time Homebuyer Programs in Idaho

March 24, 2021

Family in front of new home.

Are you hoping to become a first-time homebuyer soon? With such a large purchase, buying your first home may not only feel overwhelming, but also unattainable. Luckily, first-time homebuyer programs are here to help make buying your first home a little easier!

Idaho Central Credit Union offers a variety of products well suited for the first-time homebuyer. Rather than the typical 5% down payment requirement, there are options with down payments as low as 0% down if you are eligible. We also have several loan options with down payment assistance. In fact, most of your low to zero down payment options do not require you to even be a first-time homebuyer. Many programs will also consider you a first-time homebuyer (again) if you have not owned a home in the last 3 years.

Ed Tierney, Chief Lending Officer at Idaho Central, said in a recent interview for “For mortgages, we do a little bit of everything,” he said. “We do land, construction, purchase, refinance [loans]. And, we work with all the government agencies so we can help those who are in need and partner up with some of our local not-for-profit housing entities to help put first-time homebuyers into homes with some grants.” Here are some of the first-time homebuyer programs or low down payment options ICCU offers:

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program is one of the most popular programs in the country, and for good reason! FHA lets you buy your home with only 3.5% down. It’s especially helpful for those that are in the process of saving for a down payment, but don’t have a large amount of savings. FHA loans typically have a lower interest rate than standard conventional loans, and are able to qualify those with lower credit scores and higher debt-to-income ratios. You don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify for an FHA loan, but it’s ideal for that type of buyer due to the low down payment, low interest rate, and qualifications.  With an FHA, you are given more buying power and you can qualify for more home!

Veteran Affairs (VA) Home Loans

A VA Home Loan is available for military service members, veterans, and select military spouses. Homebuyers that qualify for this loan can take advantage of the zero down payment and there is no monthly mortgage insurance required. VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Since the VA backs each VA loan with a guarantee, financial institutions carry less risk and can likely offer more competitive interest rates, compared to conventional loans.

Rural Development (RD)/United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Loans

RD/USDA home loans are similar to VA loans, which require no down payment. A USDA mortgage is for low and moderate income borrowers who can’t secure a conventional mortgage. It is also geared towards financing a primary residence, single family home in rural and qualifying areas. A USDA home loan is not only for first-time homebuyers, and many home buyers in rural areas may qualify.

Idaho Housing and Finance (IHFA)

Idaho Central Credit Union is one of IHFA’s top lending partners in the state of Idaho. With IHFA, we can offer incredible programs that allow for low down payments, lower mortgage insurance, and down payment assistance loans that grant funds to help with closing costs and a down payment. Some grant funds or loans are forgiven if you live in the home for a defined period of time, meaning you may not have to pay those funds back.


Idaho Central Credit Union is also a member of the Home$tart program. This is another down payment assistance program.  Home$tart offers up to $7,500 towards down payment and closing costs for borrowers who qualify under the income limits. This is also a forgivable grant that requires you to live in your home for 5 years for it to be fully forgiven.  Whether you are planning to buy your forever home or your starter home, this is a great program for you to take advantage of and become a home owner.

Advantage Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

The Advantage ARM is a low down payment, low rate, and low closing cost loan. It requires a minimum of 3% down and the initial interest rate on an Advantage ARM is generally lower than the 30-year fixed interest rates. This allows borrowers to qualify for more home. It also offers lower closing costs by at least 1% of your standard programs. This product is ideal for buyers that want a lower initial monthly payment, such as a recent graduate or someone who expects their monthly income to increase. An ARM is also ideal for those that expect to remain in their home for a relatively short time, like first-time homebuyers.

Gifted Funds Mortgage

The Gifted Funds Mortgage is perfect for a first-time homebuyer who has someone who wants to help them buy their first home with gifted funds for the down payment. The gifted funds are deposited with ICCU and secured into an account, and the home loan is offered with 100% financing for the borrower (meaning no down payment required), with a fixed interest rate and no monthly mortgage insurance. This is perfect for a member who has immediate family with available money to pledge a 10% down payment, want a fixed rate and avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance.

We love our members and we strive to provide exceptional service as you navigate the mortgage loan process. Idaho Central Credit Union offers these unique loan products that are specifically designed to help the first-time homebuyer. We can help you decide which loan is the best fit and answer any questions you have along the way. Contact a Mortgage Loan Officer today and be on your way to owning your dream home!