Homebuyer Loan Programs and Grants Your Lender Forgot to Mention

Buying a home can feel like a dream to set aside for the future, but it doesn’t have to be! There are many programs and grants that exist to help you take that important step toward buying your first home. These national and local programs are designed to help cover closing costs and down payments, and most come in the form of non-repayable grants. We believe everyone has a home here, so we’ve put together a list of local and national programs that you may qualify for. Take a look and let us help you find your first home! 


  • IHDAccess Forgivable  
    Offers up to 4% of the home’s purchase price ($6000 max) to help with down payment and closing costs. No need to repay if the loan is kept for at least 10 years.

  • 1stHomeIllinois 
    $7,500 grant toward a down payment and closing costs on a property in Cook, Marion, St. Clair and Winnebago counties. Program available only to first-time home buyers, defined as anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years. Not available to veterans and applicants buying a property in a targeted area from the first-time requirement.

  • Down Payment Plus and Down Payment Plus Advantage 
    Administered by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, offer up to $6,000 in down payment and closing-cost assistance, and is forgiven after a five-year period. Buyers must use a lender that’s a member of FHLB Chicago or from a nonprofit organization for the Advantage program. Borrowers must complete a homebuyer education course and counseling. Buyers must contribute at least $1,000 towards the home purchase.

  • Chicago Home Buyer Assistance Program 
    The city of Chicago offers grants of up to 7% of the loan amount to help with down payment and closing costs. Requirements: must be first-time home buyer, complete eight-hour homebuyer education course, borrowers must contribute $1,000 or 1% of the purchase price (whichever is less), live in the home for five years or the grant must be partially repaid, and the property must be in Chicago to qualify.


  • National Homebuyers Fund 
    Government grant that offers up to 5% of the loan amount for down payment assistance. Negatives: not all lenders work or accept the program.

  • HUD’s Good Neighbor Next Door 
    50% off the list price of the home; only works for property in an area marked out for revitalization, HUD’s website has a list. Negatives: locations are not always the most desirable; only open to certain professions.

  • FHA Loans 
    A loan from an FHA-approved lender and the FHA guarantees the loan. This program helps low-to-moderate income borrowers with lower credit scores and only requires a 3.5% down payment. Negative: requires an extra mortgage insurance payment; strict requirements for property approval. 

  • Veterans Administration Loans 
    No down payment required for veterans and those serving active duty. 

  • NeighborhoodLIFT (Cook County) 
    Grants of up to $17,500 for qualified home buyers. In Cook County and Chicago, program is administered by Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, but the program is national and sponsored by the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation and Neighborworks America. Negatives: first-come, first-served basis; must be for the purchase of a primary home.

Final thoughts

With so many loan and grant programs to consider, buying your first property is more attainable than you may have thought. Give us a call and we’ll guide you through process! #EveryoneHasAHomeHere.

RNP Real Estate Group is a division of Vesta Preferred Realty.