Buying a home in a lot of places across the U.S. might seem impossible in today’s housing market, but that’s not the case in West Virginia. In fact, the Mountain State boasts the highest percentage of homeownership in the country: Nearly 78 percent of its residents own their properties. While prices have been increasing here – Redfin data shows that the median price tag now stands at $282,000, a 4.5 percent jump in the past year – there are plenty of options to cover those costs.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the best place to start is with the West Virginia Housing Development Fund, where you’ll find competitive interest rates on loans and down payment assistance.

West Virginia first-time homebuyer programs

WVHDF Homeownership Program

The HOMEownership Program offered through the West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF) connects first-time homebuyers with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for up to 100 percent of the home’s purchase price. In some cases, the loan can be paired with down payment and closing cost assistance. To qualify, you must be a first-time buyer, defined as someone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years; buying a home in a targeted county; or a veteran.

Borrower requirements:

  • 620 minimum credit score
  • Might need to complete a homebuyer education course (depending on loan type)
  • Must meet WVHDF income limits, which depend on county and the size of your household

Property requirements:

  • Can be a single-family home, condominium, townhome, planned unit development (PUD) or manufactured home
  • Must be in West Virginia
  • Must not exceed five acres
  • Must meet WVHDF purchase price limits – for non-targeted areas, all counties have a maximum home price of $349,525 except Jefferson County ($806,598); targeted areas all have a maximum price of $427,198

WVHDF Movin’ Up Program

WVHDF’s Movin’ Up Program is designed for current homeowners looking to trade up, but first-time homebuyers can also qualify. Notably, if you’re a first-time buyer, you could benefit from the Movin’ Up Special Program, which offers lower interest rates and mortgage insurance premiums if your income is at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) where you’re buying your home.

Whichever situation you’re in, to qualify, your income can’t exceed $130,560 if your household is made up of one or two people or $152,320 for a household of three or more. You can use the Movin’ Up Program along with down payment assistance, as well. There is no acreage limit for the property with this program.

West Virginia down payment assistance

WVHDF Low Down Home Loan

Used in conjunction with WVHDF’s Homeownership Program, this second loan can assist you with the down payment and closing costs associated with your home purchase. The assistance is offered as a 15-year second mortgage with 2 percent interest rate. You can receive up to $8,000 to help with your upfront expenses.

Other West Virginia homebuyer assistance programs

A number of cities in West Virginia have funds to help first-time, low- to moderate-income buyers with down payment and closing costs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnership Program, including:

Requirements and available assistance for these programs varies by location, but generally, you’ll need to be able to contribute at least $500 to the purchase and complete a homebuyer education course. The loans are forgiven if you live in the home for between 5 and 10 years, depending on the city.

Other West Virginia first-time homebuyer loans

These government-guaranteed or -insured loans are available to homebuyers everywhere, including West Virginia.

FHA loans: If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you might be younger with a shorter track record on your credit report. FHA loans offer the ability to buy a home with a much lower credit score than you need for a conventional loan: 580 with a down payment of just 3.5 percent or as low as 500 with a down payment of 10 percent.

VA loans: Current service members, veterans and eligible spouses should consider VA loans, which come with two big perks: no minimum down payment and no minimum credit score requirement.

USDA loans: If you’re buying in a qualifying rural area (use this tool to figure out if your location falls under the classification), USDA loans can be a great path to purchasing the home. There’s no minimum down payment requirement, although most lenders do require a credit score of at least 640.

Get started

If one of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund’s programs sounds like a match for you, browse the organization’s list of participating mortgage lenders to learn more about your options. You can also contact the WVHDF directly via this form (scroll down to file your request as “I’m a first-time homebuyer and have questions”). Regardless of which program you ultimately choose, remember that it’s important to compare local mortgage rates and loan offers to make sure you’re getting the best terms for your situation.