First Time Home Buyer Oregon: Programs, How To Apply & What You Should Know

For first-time home buyers, rising Northwest prices can make purchasing a home in the Beaver State daunting. However, whether you’re looking for a bungalow in Bend, a farmhouse in Fossil, or a pied-a-terre in Portland’s Pearl District, there is assistance available. Find all the information you need before taking that move of buying your dream home. This article is for every first-time home buyer in Oregon, loan programs, and Oregon smart search. Happy reading!

First Time Home Buyer Oregon

Wherever you wish to purchase your first home in Oregon, there are programs available to assist you. Either with down payments or to offer low-interest loans. These are administered at the state level by the Oregon Housing and Community Services department. These programs are available to first-time homebuyers (defined as those who have not owned a home in the last three years) who meet certain criteria.

Here’s what you need to know about national and state OHCS programs, as well as how to apply.

Oregon first-time homebuyer loan programs

To make homeownership more affordable for first-time homebuyers in any state, these national mortgage programs are available. However, Oregon first time home buyer loan programs are as follow:

OHCS (Oregon Bond Residential Loan)

Oregon issues bonds through its Oregon Bond Residential Loan Program to help finance its Rate Advantage and Cash Advantage Home Loans, which offer below-market-rate mortgages to qualified first-time home buyers.

The program provides fixed interest rates below market rates. Aim to assist first-time homebuyers in qualifying for homes with manageable monthly payments. While specifics vary according to program and county, the following are some broad guidelines. A low-rate mortgage can be either a conventional loan with a 20% down payment or an FHA or USDA home loan.

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The Cash Advantage option includes a mortgage with a below-market rate and 3% of the loan amount in cash to help with closing costs. (Note that the 3% cannot be applied toward the down payment required on an FHA loan.) Additionally, the Rate Advantage option includes a mortgage rate that is below the market. Which is even lower than the Cash Advantage rate but does not include cash assistance.

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The following are the borrower and property requirements for each:

  • Must meet the income requirements for an Oregon Bond Residential Loan.
  • A single-family residence, condominium, unit in a planned unit development (PUD), or manufactured home is not eligible.
  • Must be located in Oregon.
  • Must adhere to the purchase price limits for Oregon Bond Residential Loans.
  • Repeat homebuyers may also qualify for the Oregon Bond Residential Loan if they are purchasing in a designated target area.
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Highlights OHCS

  • Interest rates below market for first-time borrowers.
  • Grants for down payment assistance of up to $15,000.
  • With a lower-rate mortgage, a 3% closing-cost assistance grant is available.

Eligibility OHCS

  • Income and purchase price limits for borrowers vary by county and target area.
  • For homes purchased in targeted areas, the first-time homebuyer requirement is waived.
  • Complete home buyer education prior to closing on a mortgage.
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Oregon down payment assistance

Oregon Housing and Community Services provides information on a variety of down payment assistance programs available through various organizations throughout the state, including the following:


First-time homebuyers in Jackson or Josephine counties may be eligible for a down payment assistance grant of up to $1,000, or a similar grant of up to $15,000 for veterans. However, they don’t have to pay back the grants.

African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH)

Generally, first-time homebuyers who are already enrolled in the AAAH program may be eligible for a savings match to assist them in accumulating a down payment.

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Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation/Mid-Columbia Housing Authority

Any first-time homebuyers in Hood River, Sherman, or Wasco counties may be eligible for up to $5,000 in closing or down payment assistance.

Community Connection of Northeast Oregon

First-time homebuyers who are also veterans in Baker, Grant, Union, or Wallowa counties may qualify for a down payment assistance loan of up to $15,000.

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Hacienda Community Development Corp

Depending on the program, homebuyers can receive up to $60,000 in assistance.

Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)

This organization provides local assistance and specialized mortgages to Native American homebuyers in the Portland metro area.

Through NeighborWorks Umpqua

First-time homebuyers in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Klamath, or Lake counties may be eligible for up to $10,000 in down payment assistance.

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Portland Housing Center

This neighborhood nonprofit organization offers a variety of down payment assistance programs, including deferred or tandem loans, grants, and savings match opportunities.

However, many of these down payment assistance programs have eligibility requirements. Such include income restrictions, a requirement for homebuyer education, or a minimum buyer contribution. Meanwhile, the following above is a comprehensive list of organizations in Oregon that provide down payment assistance.

Other loan programs for first-time homebuyers

Along with state and local first-time homebuyer programs, buyers in Oregon can explore nationally available products such as FHA loans, VA loans (available to military members, veterans, and spouses), and USDA loans (available in qualifying rural areas). These have fewer requirements, such as a lower credit score and down payment, and may offer lower interest rates than a conventional loan.

Visit for additional Oregon homeownership programs, including those organized by city.

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How To Get Started

You can obtain additional information about the state’s first-time homebuyer loan and down payment assistance programs by contacting the Oregon Housing and Community Services department. Additionally, the department’s website includes a searchable database of approved mortgage lenders by county. Ascertain your eligibility and seek assistance in determining the amount of assistance you may qualify for.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to shop around for mortgage rates and offers to ensure you get the best deal possible.

Meanwhile, if one of the OHCS programs appears to be a good fit for you, you can begin by contacting an approved lender for more information and to apply. Lenders can assist you in identifying target areas and determining your eligibility.

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Oregon Smart Search

If your request to inspect a public record is denied, you may file a petition with the Attorney General. Meanwhile, the Attorney General conducts an examination of the public record and issues a response to the petition. The Attorney General’s interpretation of Oregon’s Public Records Law, ORS 192.410 to 192.505, is contained in these orders.

However, the State of Oregon Law Library makes a complete, searchable collection of orders issued since 1981 available online. However, the database is updated four times a year. Therefore, take the advantage of Oregon smart search.

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National programs help make homeownership more affordable. Additionally, Oregon Housing and Community Services offer below-market-rate mortgages as well as down payment and closing cost assistance programs. In general, if you are located in Oregon and aspiring to own a house, take advantage of the programs listed above. Meanwhile, you can do some Oregon smart search, to find Oregon first-time home buyer loan programs.

Chiemerie Ozurumba (Adorablepen) is a freelance writer & Computer Science degree holder, a personal finance expert, blogger, public speaker, and poet. He is also a relationship & life coach. Currently a writer at BusinessYield.

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