With gorgeous seasonal views, a deep connection to American history and an active nightlife in every major city, it’s easy to see why Massachusetts is the most populous state in New England. From Pittsfield to Boston, the Bay State has plenty to offer, as well as enough first-time homebuyer programs to make homeownership a reality.
Who is considered a first-time homebuyer in Massachusetts?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined the first-time homebuyer definition is not restricted solely to those who have never owned a home before. The widely applied requirement is that anyone who has not owned a home in the last three years is considered a first-time homebuyer; this allows greater pockets of people access to these programs.
Statewide Homeownership Assistance Programs
Operated by the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency—MassHousing, for short—applicants can apply for down payment assistance in the form of a 2 percent fixed-rate, 15-year loan. Additionally, programs are in place to support active duty and retired military members, and additional funds can be made available for homebuyers looking to settle in one of the 26 Gateway Cities of the Commonwealth.
Approved applicants must meet credit and income requirements, as well as participate in a homebuyer education course. Learn more about the available assistance at the MassHousing website.
My Mass Mortgage
For families with low- to moderate-income levels, My Mass Mortgage is ready to help make homeowner dreams a reality with competitive, affordable mortgage rates. Income and asset guidelines apply, and borrowers are required to complete a homebuyer’s education course. Visit the My Mass Mortgage website for more information.
The Massachusetts Housing Partnership has organized the ONE Mortgage program to provide borrowers with a secure, financially sustainable mortgage. Approved applicants receive a low, fixed interest rate mortgage with no private mortgage insurance, and they may qualify for as little as 3 percent in down payment costs. Check out ONE Mortgage’s webpage for more details.
Location-Specific Homeownership Assistance Programs
A little less than 30 miles south of Boston, the diverse city of Brockton is ideal for growing families to settle down. The city offers a first-time homebuyer program where applicants can apply for up to $15,000 in financial assistance toward a home purchase. Visit the Brockton Redevelopment Authority webpage for guidelines and the application.
Looking to plant roots in the hustle and bustle of Cambridge? The city has a down payment assistance program where approved borrowers can receive up to 6 percent of the purchase price. Income eligibilities apply, and this assistance can be used only toward purchasing a primary residence, not a secondary or vacation home. Visit the city of Cambridge’s website for more details.
Through the Affordable Housing Trust, Easton offers eligible borrowers down payment assistance of up to 35 percent of the purchase price. These grants do not need to be repaid, and if the homebuyer later sells the home, there are restrictions on the selling price. Read more about this program and apply at the Affordable Housing Trust webpage.
Located on the border of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Fall River has a population just under 90,000 people and is home to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum for fans of true crime and the macabre. The city sponsors a first-time homebuyer program to provide down payment and closing cost assistance, as well as a competitive low-interest mortgage. Credit and income requirements apply; for more details, visit Fall River’s Community Development Agency site.
The city of Fitchburg has created a down payment assistance program to help low- to moderate-income first-time homebuyers. Applicants must attend a homebuyer education course and apply and be approved for a mortgage before funds will be disbursed. The amount of the grant varies and is determined by how much a homebuyer needs in order to meet the loan requirements. Visit the city’s guidelines and applications page for more information.
If you’re looking to settle down in Haverhill, the city offers a first-time homebuyer down payment assistance program for those purchasing in target neighborhoods. Assistance is in a zero-interest loan that is forgivable after five years, making homeownership an affordable option. For more information and to apply, visit Haverhill’s Community Development department.
In Holyoke, a smaller town in central Massachusetts, the Holyoke Housing Authority offers down payment and closing cost assistance through its Borrower’s Assistance Program. Income-eligible first-time homebuyers can apply for a loan to cover the aforementioned costs; after five years of living within the home, the loan is forgiven. Visit the program’s page for more information.
If you’re interested in buying in the busy and growing city of Lawrence, you should definitely inquire about its first-time homebuyers program. First-time homebuyers with a low- to-moderate income can apply for a zero-interest deferred loan that is forgivable after 10 years of occupying the home as a primary residence. Applicants can be approved for up to 5 percent of the purchase price. Visit the city of Lawrence’s homebuyer program page for details.
Want to move to Lowell? Be sure to review and apply for the city’s first-time homebuyers rogram, which awards a loan up to $10,000 toward home purchasing costs. Income requirements apply; visit Lowell’s website for more information.
Malden offers the down payment assistance loan program, which awards up to $7,500 in down payment assistance to income-qualified borrowers. The zero interest loan is forgivable after the owner has lived in the home for a minimum of five years.
If you’re moving to Medford, take some time to familiarize yourself with the city’s first-time homebuyer program. After you complete a homebuyer’s workshop, you can apply for down payment and closing cost assistance on your qualified purchase in the form of an interest-free loan. The up-to $7,500 loan is forgivable after five years of living in the home. Visit Medford’s website for more details.
Looking to settle in New Bedford along the southern coast of the state? Check to see if you’re income eligible to apply for the “Neighborhoods First” Homebuyer Program, which offers down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time homebuyers. Visit New Bedford’s website to apply.
If you’re interested in purchasing a home in Plymouth, the Office of Community Development has a down payment assistance program to help turn your dream to reality. Up to $15,000 is available in the form of a zero-interest second mortgage plan. Learn more about the program’s requirements and apply at Plymouth’s Office of Community Development website.
If you’re planning to purchase a home in Quincy, the birthplace of two U.S. presidents, there is a financial program you should know about. The South Shore Home Consortium—which includes Braintree, Holbrook and Weymouth—offers up to $20,000 toward homeownership costs. Income and down payment requirements apply, and this first-time homebuyer program also asks applicants to complete a workshop. Read all the details on the city of Quincy’s webpage.
Relocating to Salem? The city offers a first-time homebuyer down payment assistance loan program that awards up to $7,500 toward a down payment in the form of a zero-interest deferred payment loan. Property purchase limits apply, and approved borrowers must use the home as their primary residence. Learn more and apply on Salem’s Planning and Community Development page.
The city of Somerville offers three programs to support first-time homebuyers, but homebuyers can apply for only one program, not all three. The first program is the Closing Cost 80 Program, which will award up to $5,000 in closing cost assistance to approved buyers earning up to 80 percent of the area’s median income (AMI). This is in the form of a five-year forgivable loan.
The second is the Down Payment Assistance 80 Program, which awards up to 15 percent of the purchase price of a home to approved borrowers. As long as the home remains the primary residence of the borrower, the loan is deferred. The 80 percent of AMI requirement applies.
The third program is the Closing Cost 110 Program. This program gives up to $3,500 as a five-year forgivable loan for closing costs. For this specific program, first-time homebuyers earning between 81 percent and 110 percent of AMI are qualified to apply.
You can learn more and apply to any of these programs on Somerville’s affordable housing site.
If you’re moving to Springfield, be sure to inquire about the city’s down payment assistance program. Low- to-moderate income home shoppers are encouraged to apply for the up to $4,000 loan. Zero interest is earned and the loan is forgivable after five years of living in the home as a primary residence. Visit Springfield’s website for more information and to apply.
The city of Taunton offers a down payment and closing cost assistance program. Approved borrowers can receive up to $25,000 toward expenses for purchasing a home in specified target areas. Visit Taunton’s city website for more information.
USDA Rural Development Loan
While this is a federally run program, several areas within Massachusetts are qualified for the rural development loan. Typically, homebuyers looking to move to rural areas with fewer than 35,000 people can apply for this loan. This is intended to help families with low to moderate incomes secure safe, sanitary housing. Visit the Massachusetts page on the USDA’s Rural Development Loan website for more details.
Welcome to the Bay State
With active city life and beautiful natural surroundings, it’s easy to see the appeal of Massachusetts. For first-time homebuyers, the statewide and local programs provided above can help make purchasing a home a realistic goal. So what are you waiting for? Start shopping for your new home in Massachusetts now.
The links on this site were researched by NewHomeSource. This is as cohesive a list as possible. Individual homebuyers should contact entities to fully understand requirements and processes.
Other Massachusetts Resources
Mia Zozobrado joined Builders Digital Experience (BDX) in 2019 as a content writer. A graduate of Southwestern University with a degree in English, Mia is passionate about the written word and making connections. Outside of work, Mia also serves on the Board of Directors for the Writers’ League of Texas.