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9 First-Time Home Buyer Government Programs 2022 Updates

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Note: This page is updated regularly to provide you with reliable first-time home buyer information and homebuyer assistance programs.

Want to buy your first home? Congress wants to help you.

In September 2022, the House of Representatives introduced its ninth bill in support of first-time home buyers, fulfilling a campaign promise to make housing more affordable and inclusive to those who want it.

Of the nine bills introduced, three provide tax breaks, two offer cash grants, two reduce mortgage rates to super-low levels, one makes consumer debt forgivable, and one creates a down payment savings account.

Basic civics reminds us that bills follow a path before they become law.

First, a bill introduced, then it passes votes in the House of Representatives and in The Senate. Then, it is handed to the President whose ratifying signature passes the bill into law.

This article tracks first-time home buyer programs and their progress into law.

Biden First-Time Home Buyer Programs [August 2022 Update]

1. First-Time Homebuyer Act of 2021

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the House, awaiting a vote
  • Originally Introduced: April 28, 2021
  • Latest Action Taken: April 28, 2021 – Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means

The First-Time Homebuyer Act of 2021, also known as the $15,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, grants first-time home buyers a refundable federal tax credit up to $15,000.

The program’s minimum eligibility standards include:

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must not exceed income and purchase price limitations
  • Must be purchasing a primary residence – second homes and rental properties not allowed
  • Must be at least 18 years of age, or married to a person who is 18 years of age
  • Must be purchasing a home from a non-relative

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The $15,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit is introduced and yet to receive a vote. The first-time home buyer tax credit is unavailable to buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

2. Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the House, awaiting a vote
  • Originally Introduced: April 14, 2021
  • Latest Action Taken: June 22, 2022 Hearings held by the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The Downpayment Toward Equity Act, also known as the $25,000 First-Time Home Buyer Downpayment Grant, gives first-time buyers a cash grant up to $25,000 toward the purchase of a home. The bill states that cash can be applied to any purchase-related line-item including down payment, interest rate reduction, mortgage and real estate closing costs, and other general expenses.

The program’s minimum eligibility standards include:

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must meet income and purchase price limitations
  • Must be purchasing a primary residence – second homes and rental homes are not allowed
  • Must use a government-backed mortgage such as a conventional loan, FHA loan, or USDA loan
  • Must have parents or legal guardians who have not owned a home in your lifetime unless (1) they lost their home to foreclosure or short sale, or (2) you lived in foster care at any point into your lifetime

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The $25,000 Downpayment Toward Equity Act is introduced and yet to receive a vote. Its cash grants are unavailable to buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

3. Uplifting First-Time Homebuyers Act of 2021

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the House, awaiting a vote
  • Originally Introduced: June 24, 2021
  • Latest Action Taken: June 24, 2021 – Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means

The Uplifting First-Time Homebuyers Act is a tax-incentive bill that lets home buyers use more of their 401(k) toward the purchase of a home.

Under current law, first-time home buyers can early-withdraw up to $10,000 from their 401(k) retirement fund penalty-free if that money is used to purchase a home. Under the The Uplifting First-Time Homebuyers Act, Congress doubles the limit to $20,000.

The program’s minimum eligibility standards include:

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must be withdrawing money from a tax-exempt 401(k) retirement account
  • Must be using money for a home purchase transaction

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The Uplifting First-Time Homebuyer Act is introduced and yet to receive a vote. Its additional tax incentives are unavailable to first-time home buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

4. First-Time Homebuyer Refundable Credit via The DASH Act

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the Senate, awaiting a vote
  • Originally Introduced: August 18, 2021
  • Latest Action Taken: Sept 23, 2021 – “Read twice” and Referred to the Committee on Finance

The Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All Act (DASH Act) resembles the First Time Homebuyer Act of 2021, but with simpler qualification standards. Specifically, the DASH Act places less emphasis on income and the first-time buyer’s home purchase price.

The DASH Act provides up to $15,000 in refundable tax credits to first-time home buyers who meet minimum eligibility standards:

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must meet purchase price limitations
  • Must be at least 18 years of age, or married to a person who is 18 years of age
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must have an adjusted gross income of $100,000, or $200,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • Must be purchasing a home

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The DASH Act is introduced and yet to receive a vote. Its $15,000 tax credit is unavailable to first-time home buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage today.

5. First Generation Down Payment Assistance

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the House
  • Originally Introduced: July 16, 2021
  • Latest Action Taken: July 22, 2021 – The bill’s sponsor made introductory remarks on the measure

The First Generation Down Payment Assistance program is included within the Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021. It awards $25,000 cash grants to first-time buyers toward the purchase of their home.

The First Generation Down Payment Assistance program is similar to the Downpayment Toward Equity Act, but with simpler qualification standards. Specifically, the program changes the definition of “first-generation home buyer” to include all first-time buyers whose parents or legal guardians don’t own a home currently.

The program’s minimum eligibility standards include:

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must meet income and purchase price limitations for the area
  • Must be purchasing a primary residence – second homes and rental properties are not allowed
  • Must use a government-backed mortgage such as a conventional loan, FHA loan, or USDA loan
  • Must have parents or legal guardians who don’t currently own a home, unless you lived in foster care at any point in your lifetime

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The First Generation Down Payment Assistance program is introduced and yet to receive a vote. Its $25,000 cash grant is unavailable to first-time home buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

6. Build Back Better Act

Graphic: passed the house
  • Status: Passed House vote, Awaiting Senate vote
  • Originally Introduced: September 27, 2021
  • Latest Action taken: November 19, 2021 – Motion to reconsider laid on the table

The Build Back Better Act is a wide-reaching stimulus program that touches housing, education, climate change and more.

Similar to the Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021, the Build Better Back Act gives first-time, first-generation home buyers cash grants up to $25,000 use any home purchase line-item cost including down payment, closing costs, and mortgage rate reductions. The bill defines “first-generation home buyer” as all first-time buyers whose parents or legal guardians don’t own a home currently.

The Build Back Better Act’s minimum eligibility standards include:

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must meet income and purchase price limitations for your area
  • Must be purchasing a primary residence – second homes and rental properties not allowed
  • Must use a government-backed mortgage such as a conventional loan, FHA loan, or USDA loan
  • Must have parents or legal guardians who don’t currently own a home, unless you lived in foster care at any point in your lifetime

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The Build Back Better Act passed a House vote and did not pass a Senate vote. Its $25,000 cash grant is unavailable to first-time home buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

7. Low-Income First Time Home Buyer Act (LIFT)

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the House
  • Originally Introduced: September 22, 2021
  • Latest Action Taken: September 22, 2021 – Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

The LIFT Act, also known as the LIFT Homebuyers Act, provides below-market mortgage rates to first-generation renters of modest means. The program reduces mortgage interest paid so homes pay off in 20 years instead of thirty with the same monthly payment, which build wealth faster.

The LIFT Act can be combined with other first-time buyer programs including the $15,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit and the $25,000 Downpayment Toward Equity Act.

The program’s minimum eligibility standards include:

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must meet income and purchase price limitations for the area
  • Must use an FHA-backed mortgage loan
  • Must have parents or legal guardians who don’t currently own a home, unless you lived in foster care at any point in your lifetime

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The LIFT Act is introduced and yet to receive a vote. Its reduced mortgage rates are unavailable to first-time home buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

8. Transforming Student Debt to Home Equity Act Of 2022

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the House
  • Originally Introduced: April 1, 2022
  • Latest Action Taken: April 1, 2022 – Referred to the Committee on Financial Services

The Transforming Student Debt To Home Equity Act gives concessions to first-time buyers with monthly student loan payments to help them stop renting and start buying. The bill lowers mortgage rates for buyers, provides discounts on government-owned homes, and makes down payment assistance available.

The program’s minimum eligibility standards are

  • Must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must be approved for a mortgage
  • Must agree to own and live in the new home for 3 years
  • Must have federal student loans not in default
  • Must agree to take a homeownership class

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The Transforming Student Debt to Home Equity Act is introduced and yet to receive a vote. Its reduced mortgage rates and discounted homes are unavailable to first-time home buyers as of today.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

9. [NEW] American Dream Downpayment Act or 529(b)

Graphic: Bill is introduced
  • Status: Introduced to the House
  • Originally Introduced: February 25, 2021
  • Latest Action Taken: August 2, 2022 – Introduced in the U.S. Senate

The American Dream Downpayment Act authorizes a tax-advantaged downpayment savings account. It’s based on Internal Revenue Code Section 529, which permits tax-advantaged tuition savings accounts. The American Dream Downpayment Act would occupy section 529(b) of the tax code and creates savings accounts for buying a home. 

Cash added to a 529(b) down payment savings account can be withdrawn with no taxes due on gains.

Withdrawals from a 529(b) are allowed at any time so long as proceeds are used toward the purchase of a home. This includes, but is not limited to, making a down payment, paying for mortgage and real estate closing costs, paying state and local taxes, and paying other home-buying expenses due at closing.

  • Contributions must be cash
  • Contribution total limit is $129,400 (which is twenty percent of the base conforming mortgage loan limit)
  • Contribution limits adjust with inflation

The Bottom Line for First-Time Home Buyers

The American Dream Downpayment Act has yet to receive a vote. The 529(b) savings account is not yet available.

Check your mortgage eligibility.

Can’t Wait For Laws To Pass?

You don’t have to wait for Congress. You can purchase a home with little- or no-money down through local first-time home buyer programs and grants.

You can also apply for 97% and 100% mortgage loans and skip to the end by getting pre-approved.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage today.

Dan Green
Dan Green

Dan Green is a former mortgage loan officer and an industry expert. He's appeared on NPR and CNBC, and in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and dozens of local newspapers. Dan has helped millions of first-time home buyers get educated on mortgages, real estate, and personal finance. Have mortgage questions? Ask Dan in the chat.

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