Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the country, but home prices here can look pretty big. Homes in Rhode Island have a median sale price of $453,300 as of Dec. 2023, according to data from Redfin. If you’re a first-time homebuyer in Rhode Island, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed, though. You could be eligible for an affordable mortgage and down payment assistance through Rhode Island Housing, the state’s housing finance agency. While requirements vary, first-time homebuyers generally must complete a homebuyer education class to qualify for these programs. Here’s a look at what’s available if you’re purchasing your first home in the state.

Rhode Island first-time homebuyer programs

RIHousing First-Time Homebuyer Loan

Rhode Island Housing (RIHousing) offers up to 100 percent financing through its First Time Homebuyer Loan program and accompanying down payment assistance. These loans can be obtained through RIHousing directly or through one of the agency’s participating mortgage lenders.

To qualify for a First-Time Homebuyer Loan, you’ll need to complete a homebuyer education class — you can complete it online — and meet the program’s home purchase price limit of $736,000, as well as household income limits. Currently, these are up to $120,934 for households of up to two people and $139,074 for households of three or more. Explore RIHousing’s list of participating lenders who can help with your application.

Rhode Island down payment assistance

RIHousing 10kDPA

RIHousing’s 10kDPA program is a $10,000 deferred down payment assistance loan for first-time homebuyers. It doesn’t require monthly payments until the home is no longer your primary residence. That means you can enjoy interest-free assistance until you sell or move out of your home or refinance your mortgage.

To be eligible for the 10kDPA program, you must have a minimum credit score of 660 and complete a homebuyer education course. You’ll also need to get your first mortgage through RIHousing (or any participating lender) and meet purchase price and household income limits, which are the same as those for the First-Time Homebuyer Loan program.


If you’re the first member of your family to buy a home, or if your parents or guardians ever lost your family home to a foreclosure or short sale and don’t own a home now, you might be able to qualify for up to $25,000 of assistance for a down payment and closing costs. It’s part of the agency’s pilot program, FirstGenHomeRI. The funds are packaged as a zero-interest, forgivable loan, and if you remain in the home for at least five years, you won’t have to pay the money back. To qualify, you’ll need a minimum 660 credit score, and you’ll need to meet purchase price and income limits.

Additionally, the program is only open to current residents of Central Falls, East Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Providence (excluding residents in zip code 02906) and a specific census tract in Newport, although they can buy a home anywhere in the state. The funds for this program are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

RIHousing Extra Assistance

First-time homebuyers in Rhode Island might also qualify for down payment assistance of up to $15,000 or 6 percent of their home’s purchase price, whichever is less, through RIHousing’s Extra Assistance loan. The interest rate on this second mortgage, in most cases, is the same as the one on your first mortgage, with no extra fees. To qualify, you must:

  • Be a first-time buyer taking out an RIHousing first mortgage
  • Intend to occupy the home as your primary residence
  • Have a minimum 620 credit score
  • Complete a homebuyer education course

Other Rhode Island homebuyer assistance programs

Homebuyer Renovation Loans/203(k)

RIHousing also offers assistance for buying a fixer-upper, provided that the total combined costs (purchase and renovation expenses) do not exceed FHA loan limits. You’ll need to have a contract with a state-licensed general contractor, and the renovation funds will be held in an escrow account. If you manage to stay under budget, excess funds will apply to your principal balance.

The program requires a homebuyer education course that costs $15, and you’ll need to find a participating lender to apply.

Housing Network of Rhode Island: For Providence Buyers

If you’re buying in the state’s biggest city — Providence — consider applying for the Housing Network of Rhode Island’s Down Payment & Closing Cost Assistance program, which offers up to $20,000 to cover upfront homebuying costs. To qualify, you’ll need to buy a home in Providence city limits and meet income and purchase price limits ($330,000 for existing homes or $406,000 for new construction). Additionally, you’ll need to satisfy these conditions:

  • Have a maximum back-end debt-to-income ratio of 45 percent
  • Be able to contribute $1,500 of your own money to the transaction
  • Pay a $200 application fee
  • Complete a homebuyer education course

Other Rhode Island first-time homebuyer loans

Along with RIHousing’s programs, first-time homebuyers in Rhode Island might also qualify for other types of national mortgages, including FHA, VA or USDA loans. These can be ideal if you don’t have a substantial down payment saved or have a lower credit score. However, for VA and USDA loans, you’ll need to meet additional eligibility requirements, while FHA loans simply require a credit score of at least 500 (580 if you want to make a smaller down payment of 3.5 percent).

There are also specialized programs geared toward certain types of borrowers, such as teachers or police officers.

Get started

If you’re interested in an RIHousing mortgage program, visit the agency’s website to learn more and browse the homebuyer education class schedule to sign up for the next available course. If you’re not sure of where to start or how to apply, reach out to the organization to schedule a consultation with a mortgage originator who can help you understand your options and walk you through the preapproval process.

Remember: No matter which mortgage you ultimately get, interest rates and fees vary by lender, so it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes and compare loan offers carefully before committing to one.

For more information on first-time homebuyer loans and programs, Bankrate’s general guide can be a helpful resource.