For many aspiring homeowners, one significant challenge to overcome is the down payment requirement. Traditionally, a sizable down payment has been a prerequisite for securing a mortgage, often putting homeownership out of reach for those with limited savings. However, various alternative options have emerged to help individuals achieve their dream of owning a home. In this comprehensive guide, we explore a range of programs, each designed to provide pathways to homeownership with minimal down payment requirements.

Conventional 97

Conventional 97 is a mortgage program that enables first-time homebuyers to secure a loan with a down payment as low as 3%. This program is a good option for borrowers with strong credit histories who may not qualify for other low-down-payment programs. With Conventional 97, private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required but can be canceled once the loan-to-value ratio reaches 80% (there is 20% equity in the home).

Home Possible

Home Possible is a low-down-payment alternative for low to moderate-income homebuyers. With Home Possible, borrowers can qualify for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3%, making homeownership more accessible for those with limited savings. This program also offers flexible credit requirements and allows for down payment assistance from a variety of sources, including gifts and grants. Qualifying income is limited to less than 80% of the area median income (AMI).

FHA Loan

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan program is well known for its low-down-payment requirement of just 3.5%. FHA loans are popular among first-time homebuyers and those with lower credit scores due to lenient eligibility criteria. Additionally, FHA loans offer competitive interest rates and allow for higher debt-to-income ratios, making them an attractive option for many prospective homeowners.

VA Loan

For eligible veterans and active-duty service members and their spouses, the VA loan program offers an opportunity to purchase a home with no down payment requirement. VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and offer competitive interest rates and flexible qualification standards. This program is a valuable resource for those who have served our country and are looking to achieve homeownership.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan program is driven by property eligibility and income limits, specifically designed to assist individuals with purchasing homes in rural areas. With a USDA loan, eligible borrowers can secure 100% financing (no down payment is required). Additionally, USDA loans offer competitive interest rates and flexible credit requirements, making homeownership achievable for rural residents who may not qualify for conventional financing.

Welcome Home Grant*

The Welcome Home Grant program, offered by Federal Home Loan Bank, provides down payment assistance to qualifying homebuyers in participating states, including Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Eligible recipients may receive up to $20,000 in grant funds to be used toward their down payment and closing costs. This program is available on a limited basis as funds are made available by the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB).


The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) offers a range of programs and resources to assist homebuyers in Ohio, including down payment assistance, affordable mortgage options, and home-buying education. OHFA’s programs are designed to make homeownership more accessible and affordable for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families throughout the state.

Communities First*

Communities First is a grant offered in assistance increments of 3%, 4%, or 5% when available. Guardian Savings Bank currently offers a 3% assistance amount with this option. This serves to provide instant equity in a home without repayment or retention and is offered by the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority. You do not have to be a first-time homebuyer to receive this grant.


The American Dream Down Payment Initiative (ADDI) is federal program administered by local governments and housing agencies that provides down payment assistance to low-income, first-time homebuyers within the City of Cincinnati. ADDI grants can be used toward the down payment and closing costs, making it easier for qualifying individuals to purchase a single-family home, condo, or manufactured housing.

Achieving the dream of homeownership is within reach for many individuals, thanks to a variety of alternative low-down-payment options for homebuyers. When you’re considering one of the many down-payment-assistance programs, it’s essential to explore your options and find the solution that best fits your needs and financial situation. With the help of these programs and resources, you may overcome the barrier of a large down payment and start your journey to homeownership with confidence and security. Contact a Guardian Savings Bank mortgage specialist today. 

*Program is offered and administered by a third-party institution.


All home-lending products are subject to credit and property approval. Rates and program terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions and limitations apply

These articles are for educational purposes only and provide general mortgage information. Products, services, processes, and lending criteria described in these articles may differ from those available through Guardian Savings Bank. For more information on available products and services and to discuss your options, please contact a Guardian Savings Bank loan officer.