Climbing home prices in Oklahoma suggest a high level of interest in homeownership in the state, where the median sale price rose 12 percent between February 2020 and February 2021, according to real estate brokerage Redfin. Homebuyers are looking to The Sooner State for its scenic mountain ranges, flat fertile plains and busy metros in between.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer wanting to break into the Oklahoma housing market, there are resources to help you get there. The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, the state’s public housing entity, offers affordable mortgages and down payment assistance to homebuyers in all 77 counties across the state.
Oklahoma first-time homebuyer loan programs
OHFA mortgage programs
The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) can connect first-time and repeat homebuyers with a 30-year, fixed-rate conventional or government-backed loan. Down payment assistance is available with these loans, as well as a competitive interest rate for borrowers in specific professions, including teachers, first responders and state employees.
There are two main programs:
- OHFA GOLD program – The OHFA GOLD loan program offers financing to first-time homebuyers only, meaning buyers who haven’t owned a home in the past three years. The GOLD program has two loan types: the GOLD Freddie Mac HFA Advantage conventional loan and the GOLD government loan, which can be an FHA, VA, USDA or Section 184 loan.
- OHFA DREAM program – The OHFA DREAM loan program provides financing to first-time and repeat buyers, with two loan types: the DREAM Freddie Mac HFA Advantage conventional loan and the DREAM government loan, which can be an FHA, VA or USDA loan, or a DREAM ZERO loan that comes with a low interest rate and other benefits.
There are also three lower-mortgage rate programs for teachers and other workers in the state:
- OHFA 4Teachers program – Certified public and private school teachers in Oklahoma can take advantage of the OHFA 4Teachers program to obtain a fixed-rate, low-interest home loan.
- OHFA Shield program – The OHFA Shield program provides reduced-rate mortgages to police, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel. This includes municipal and volunteer firefighters and law enforcement officers, as well as EMTs and paramedics.
- Oklahoma State Employee program – State government employees might also be able to qualify for a low-interest mortgage through OHFA. You must be an employee of a state agency to be eligible.
There are general borrower and property requirements for all of these programs, including:
- 640 or higher minimum credit score (depending on debt-to-income ratio and loan type)
- Maximum 45 percent to 50 percent debt-to-income ratio (depending on loan type)
- Must meet OHFA income limits, which vary based on loan program
- Must be in Oklahoma
- Must be a primary residence
- Must meet OHFA purchase price limits, which vary based on loan program
Oklahoma down payment assistance
OHFA Down Payment Assistance
In addition to 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, OHFA provides up to 3.5 percent in down payment and closing cost assistance. The assistance is a gift and does not have to be repaid. There are income and purchase price limits depending on whether you’re borrowing through the GOLD or DREAM program and what type of financing you’re getting.
Available through the nonprofit REI Oklahoma, the REI Home100 program offers a 30-year, fixed-rate conventional or government loan and down payment assistance to qualifying borrowers.
If you’re eligible, you’ll receive the down payment funds in the form of a gift or forgivable seven-year second mortgage — depending on what type of loan your first mortgage is — for up to 5 percent of your loan.
You don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify, but if you are a first-time buyer and getting an HFA Advantage or HFA Preferred loan, you must take a homebuyer education course as part of the program requirements. Other requirements include:
- 640 minimum credit score
- Maximum 45 percent debt-to-income ratio
- Must meet REI Oklahoma income limits, which vary by loan type
- Must work with an approved mortgage lender
Other first-time homebuyer loan programs
Government loans such as FHA, VA and USDA mortgages offer more flexible terms and rates that can make homeownership more attainable for you if you’re a first-time homebuyer. Your mortgage lender can guide you through these and other assistance options that you might qualify for, over and above what OHFA or other state or local organizations can provide. You can view a comprehensive list of programs in Bankrate’s first-time homebuyer loans and programs guide.
For other Oklahoma homeownership programs, including by city, visit HUD.gov.
When you’re ready to begin the home loan process, a participating Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) mortgage lender can help you determine your options. While OHFA doesn’t provide mortgages directly, the agency works with over 50 lending institutions across the state. Terms and rates can vary quite a bit from lender to lender, so remember to compare mortgage rates and offers to find the best fit for you.