Whether you’re looking to sail off the coast of Newport or you’re hoping to live in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor to spend your days skiing (or both), planting permanent roots in Oregon can feel tough for first-time homebuyers. With median home prices above $491,000 in the state, according to data from Redfin, finding an affordable place to call your own isn’t easy. However, you don’t have to do it on your own, thanks to assistance from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) and a number of other organizations across the Beaver State.

Oregon first-time homebuyer programs

Oregon Bond Residential Loan

The Oregon Bond Residential Loan program offers a selection of low-rate mortgages — including conventional, FHA, VA and USDA loans — with two assistance options for first-time homebuyers:

  • Cash Advantage
  • Rate Advantage

The Cash Advantage option includes a below-market rate mortgage and 3 percent of the loan amount in cash to help lower your closing costs. (Note the 3 percent can’t go toward the required down payment on an FHA loan.) The Rate Advantage option also includes a below-market mortgage rate — even lower than the Cash Advantage rate and significantly lower than current average mortgage rates as of Jan. 2024 — but no cash assistance.

The borrower and property requirements for either option include:

  • Must meet Oregon Bond Residential Loan income limits, which range from $98,800 to $138,320 depending on the home’s location and your household size
  • Must be in Oregon
  • Must meet Oregon Bond Residential Loan purchase price limits, which range from $481,176 to $838,182

The Oregon Bond Residential Loan is also available to repeat homebuyers if the buyer is purchasing in a specific target area.

Oregon down payment assistance

OHCS Flex Lending Program

If you earn less than $125,000 per year, you may qualify for OHCS’ Flex Lending program, which offers between 4 percent and 5 percent of your first mortgage as another loan for down payment and closing costs. Low-income (earning 80 percent or less of the area median income) borrowers can eventually have the loan forgiven. Moderate-income borrowers (above 80 percent of the area median income) will repay the loan in monthly installments; the interest rate will be 1 percent higher than the interest rate on the first mortgage. You’ll need a minimum credit score of 620, but there is no requirement to be a first-time buyer.

Other Oregon homebuyer assistance programs

Along with the Flex Lending program, OHCS works with local organizations throughout the state to help buyers secure assistance with down payment and closing cost funds. Here’s a look at some of the most widely available assistance programs.

ACCESS: Jackson and Josephine Counties

Qualified buyers who can contribute at least $500 of their own money might be able to secure a $2,500 grant to cover a down payment, closing costs or prepaid items. You’ll need to attend a homebuyer education course and be a first-time buyer to qualify. This grant does not need to be repaid.

Portland Housing Center: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill and Columbia Counties

Through the Portland Housing Center, first-time buyers earning 80 percent or less of the area median income can qualify for a low-rate loan of up to $80,000 to cover down payment and closing costs. There is also an IDA (Individual Development Account) program that offers a $5 match for every $1 saved toward a down payment. While that program is currently full, you can add your name to a waiting list when funds are available again.

Community Connection of Northeast Oregon: Baker, Grant, Union and Wallowa Counties

The Community Connection of Northeast Oregon offers an IDA for first-time homebuyers that matches every $1 you save for a down payment with $5 — up to a maximum of $21,600 ($3,600 of your own savings, plus $18,000 of matching funds. For more information, email susy@ccno.org.

DevNW: Marion County Down Payment Assistance

Eligible first-time buyers can apply for up to $25,000 of no-interest funding for down payment and closing costs through DevNW. A portion of the money will be forgiven if you own the property for at least 10 years. The property must be located outside the Salem city limits.

DevNW: Springfield Down Payment Assistance

Similar to the Marion County Down Payment Assistance Program, buyers will need to qualify as low-income borrowers to secure up to $25,000 of funding. The loan is not forgivable, however; you must pay the entire amount back when selling or refinancing the mortgage.

Many of these down payment assistance programs have certain requirements, such as income limits, a homebuyer education requirement or a minimum buyer contribution. Here is a complete list of organizations offering down payment assistance in Oregon.

Other Oregon first-time homebuyer loans

If you’re buying a home in Oregon, make sure you consider some of the nationally available home lending options, including:

  • FHA loans: Applicants with a credit score of at least 580 can qualify for FHA loans, which allow you to put just 3.5 percent of the purchase price down.
  • VA loans: If you’re a qualifying service member, veteran or eligible spouse, VA loans come with a few huge benefits: no mortgage insurance requirement, no down payment requirement and some of the most competitive interest rates available.
  • USDA loans: If you’re buying in a qualifying rural area (check to see if your property fits the bill) USDA loans are worth a look. You don’t need to make a down payment, and USDA-approved lenders typically require a minimum 640 credit score.

Get started

Before you begin house-hunting in Oregon, research the state’s housing market to get a sense of where you might find a better deal — and where you might be able to qualify for extra down payment assistance. Use the Oregon Housing and Community Services department as a resource to learn more details about the state’s first-time homebuyer loan and down payment assistance programs. The department’s website also has a list of approved mortgage lenders searchable by county. Make sure you ask about your eligibility and how much assistance you might qualify for.

It’s also a good idea to shop around for mortgage rates and offers to ensure you receive the most competitive loan for your situation. Ask your real estate agent for advice, too; they have experience helping first-time buyers navigate the process.