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Quickly find first-time homebuyer programs offering lower rates, payment assistance, and more. 

While purchasing a home can be a significant life milestone, it can also be stressful, especially for first-time buyers. Thankfully, several first-time home buyer Ohio services and programs are available to guide these people through home-buying to homeownership.

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This article is as current as the publication date. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information before acting.

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Affordability is one of the most important factors people consider when buying a home. In general, buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions that most people make, and it is critical to ensure that the purchase fits within their budget and financial goals. Check the lowest interest rates in the region. Homebuyers can review interest rates and this mortgage calculator to allow themselves to borrow confidently.

One of the most significant financial decisions in a person’s life, purchasing a home, is no easy task. Finding an experienced real estate agent to walk through the home-buying process when one is ready to buy a home is essential.

OH Homebuyer Down Payment Assistance Programs

HomeBase Down Payment Assistance Program

Down payment assistance for low- to moderate-income borrowers or low- to moderate-income census tracts to  HomeBase members.
Eligibility: First-time home buyer or military veteran; income is based on 80% of the Area Median Income;

Number of People in Household12345
80% AMI (2022)
$53,500$61,150$68,800$76,400 $82,550

 Chart Source

Fifth Third Down Payment Assistance Program

Down payment assistance of up to $3,600 with no payback required.
Eligibility: Income level or purchasing a property for your primary residence in a low-income consensus tract.

The Port Downpayment Assistance

Get 3, 4, or 5 percent down payment assistance options. Apply through a participating lender, who will verify eligibility and obtain pre-approval.
Eligibility:  Maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45 percent and a minimum FICO credit score of 640

The American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI)

Down payment assistance of $10,000, $12,000, or $14,000 (determined by AMI) for purchasing a single-family home, condominium, cooperative, or manufactured housing in Cincinnati. Awarded as a five-year non-interest-bearing deferred loan payment with a five-year residency requirement.
Eligibility: First-time homebuyers with incomes below 80 percent of the median income

Number of People in Household12345
80% AMI (2022)
$53,500$61,150$68,800$76,400 $82,550

 Chart Source

Zillow’s 1% Down Payment Option

Zillow wants to help eager homebuyers obtain property faster than traditional means. For those who can afford higher rent payments but have been held back by the upfront costs associated with homeownership, down payment assistance can help lower the entry barrier.

Related Article: Already own a home? These homeowner programs may be helpful. 

Loans & Grants for First-Time Home Buyers in OH

Welcome Home Program (WHP)

Grants to fund reasonable down payments and closing costs incurred in acquiring or constructing owner-occupied housing by low- and moderate-income homebuyers. The grants are limited to $15,000 for homebuyers who are honorably discharged veterans, active duty military personnel, reservists, or surviving spouses of service personnel and $10,000 for all other homebuyers.
Eligibility: Total income for all occupants in the home is at or below 80% of the Mortgage Revenue Bond limit, and the homebuyer has at least $500 of their funds to contribute towards the down payment.

Section 502 Direct Loan Program

Assists low- and very-low-income applicants obtain decent, safe, and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas. The adjusted family income determines the amount of assistance. The current interest rate is 4 percent.
Eligibility: Unable to obtain a  loan from other resources; occupy the property as primary residence; meet citizenship requirements.

FHA Home Loan

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a qualified lender that provides these minimal down payment loans (FHA). FHA Loans help low and moderate-income borrowers become homeowners. They require lower monthly down payments and have more flexible credit requirements than conventional loans.
Eligibility: 3.5 percent down payment for borrowers with a 580 credit score or higher

Alternative Ways to Buy a Home

Home Buying Apps and Platforms

Home-buying apps offer an extensive selection of properties for sale. These properties can be searched so that homebuyers can view listings that meet specific criteria. According to US News, these are 10 Helpful House Hunting Apps. Homes can be found on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Zillow, and

For Sale by Owner

Houses sold by their owners, often known as FSBO homes, are listed without a real estate agent’s help for the seller to save on commission. View homes for sale by owner in Cincinnati. 

Buying Foreclosed Homes

A HUD home is a 1- to 4-unit residential property acquired by HUD due to a foreclosure action on an FHA-insured mortgage. HUD becomes the property owner and offers it for sale to recover the loss on the foreclosure claim. As soon as feasible, they sell it for market value. Search for HUD homes to purchase and special programs and resources.

View alternative property sales in Hamilton County. 

Estate auctions help those buying foreclosed or bank-owned residential properties.

Assumable Mortgages

When you assume a mortgage, the current borrower signs their loan balance to you, and you become responsible for the remaining payments. That means the mortgage will have the same terms the previous homeowner had, including the same interest rate and monthly payments. Buyers don’t have to seek out lenders, compare rates, etc.

Tax Liens

If property owner has outstanding property taxes, you can buy tax lien certificate from the local government by investing in tax liens. You profit because the government offers the certificate’s owner a predetermined redemption period and a specified interest rate you’ll receive.

Also, a tax lien certificate might result in a higher investment return. A deadline is established for the taxpayer to settle the tax lien certificate. The investor gets the deed to the property if they don’t pay off this obligation. You could purchase this home for a small portion of what it sells on the market.

Want to know more about tax liens? This article on tax liens has everything to know about investing in them.

Related Article: Decorate your first home with goods from Cincinnati Black-owned businesses

Homebuyer Education

Learning how to choose the perfect house can be difficult. When people purchase a new home, they commit to keeping it long-term. They also commit to everything that entails home ownership. Fortunately, a few valuable hints can ease the process of purchasing and owning a property.

Get familiar with homeownership and mortgage payments with Homeownership 101, 7 Parts of a Mortgage, and Components of a Mortgage Loan Payment. Understanding loan options can get tricky – here’s everything to know about getting the best deals.


Black-owned Real Estate Companies and African American Real Estate Agents

Barnes Real Estate Group

Barnes Real Estate Group offers a comprehensive scope of commercial and residential properties. View company listings. 

Related Article: Looking to purchase a fixer-upper? These African American residential contractors may be able to help.

Did we miss any first-time homebuyer programs? Contact us at The Voice of Black Cincinnati to let us know.

Written by: Madison King

The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize, and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job postings, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.

1Source: Ohio REALTORS Report
2Source: study of 2021 and 2020 data
3 Based on a review of the state’s available DPA grants at the time this was written. The grant is available through a participating lender, Community First Ohio.
First-time home buyer image provided by Adobe Stock

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Written by Sophie Barsan

Sophie Barsan is a writer at The Voice of Black Cincinnati, where she covers events and client -focused content. Sophie's work is central to keeping the community informed about Cincinnati vibrant array of activities and opportunities. Her dedication to exploring and highlighting the city's cultural richness makes her stories a must-read for anyone looking to engage with the local scene. Connect with Sophie on LinkedIn for a deeper look into her articles and contributions.