Teacher First Time Home Buyer Programs | Save with Homes for Heroes

Teacher first time home buyer

Teacher first time home buyer programs deliver a variety of benefits to educators who are beginning their journey into finding a home. Some deliver financial benefits, some provide rewards, some provide help at different stages and some deliver resources. When you are looking at your first home, the blizzard of details can be daunting, partly because so much of it is new. Don’t let that stop you, because there are professionals and friends who can help you.

Teacher First Time Home Buyer Programs

teacher first time home buyer programs
When you begin to sort through the programs out there they fall into three categories:
  • Programs that provide support
  • Programs that provide discounts
  • Programs that provide mortgage loan help

Let’s take a look at all three.

1) Support for a First Time Home Buyer Teacher

Homes for Heroes has been helping first time home buyer teachers find their first home, and save them significant money in the process for more than 20 years.

If you are a teacher, you are a hero. You play a crucial role in serving your local community. Homes for Heroes recognizes the importance of your role in the community and is dedicated to providing support, valuable services, industry expertise, and local market knowledge through their network of more than 4,400 real estate agents and loan officers. They specifically joined Homes for Heroes to serve teachers and other local heroes, and to help teachers like you save money on your first home. That’s the best part, teachers like you save an average of $3,000 when you use Homes for Heroes local real estate and mortgage specialists to buy, sell or refinance a home.

“Our real estate agent was fantastic to work with! She made every step of the home buying process simple and helped keep our minds at ease. Her dedication to helping others was very evident – we highly recommend Homes for Heroes.” – Eric and Taylor are teachers who purchased a house in Wisconsin.

Simply sign up online. There’s no obligation. A company team member will follow up with you to answer your questions, and when you’re ready to proceed, they will connect you with their local real estate and mortgage specialists.

If you choose to work with Homes for Heroes local specialists, after you close on your home, Homes for Heroes will send you a Hero Rewards® check. The average amount is $3,000 if you buy or sell a home, however if you do both, the average savings doubles to $6,000! After closing on your house, you can use the money to purchase new furniture or appliances, replace the carpet or re-paint the exterior of your new house. It’s yours to do what you want.

BONUS: the Hero Rewards savings offered by Homes for Heroes can often times be received IN ADDITION to the other savings outlined in this post. That’s why you’re able to save more with Homes for Heroes than other teacher first time home buyer programs who do not go above and beyond the benefits offered by federal and state programs.

2) Discount Teacher First Time Home Buyer Programs

It’s a little hard to believe, but there is a program that is a wonderful option for a first time home buyer teacher from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that will sell you a house for 50% off.

The Good Neighbor Next Door is a national program. One of its goals is to make the home purchase more affordable for community heroes such as:

  • Teachers, educators and school employees
  • Law Enforcement officers and employees
  • Firefighters and first responders
  • Emergency medical technicians and other workers in the emergency medical services field

The eligible homes in the Good Neighbor Next Door program are in locations identified by HUD as revitalization areas. That means they are in locations where:

  • Household incomes are low.
  • Homeownership is low.
  • Foreclosure activity is high.

These neighborhoods need both economic and community development, and a good way to encourage that is to make foreclosed properties available to heroes at a half-off. If you get one of these deeply-discounted homes, you must agree to live there for at least three years.

With the Good Neighbor Next Door program, the properties that are available are offered first to the Good Neighbor eligible applicants seven days before they go on the general market.

Teacher First Time Home Buyer Programs for Mortgages

Most of the programs for first time home buyers that involve financial help come from the federal government, and most of them center around down payments. Although these programs are all called “loans,” they are really loan guarantees. That means these federal agencies will stand behind your loan. The actual money, however, comes from private mortgage brokers and banks. Getting approval from the federal government is one half of a two-part process. The other half is being approved for the mortgage with your lender.

In most cases, these federal programs are loan guarantees that insure your mortgage if you should default on payments. That, in turn, gives the private lender confidence in your mortgage application.

The VA Loan Guarantee

The Veteran Administration loan guarantee, if you are eligible, is probably the best of the federal mortgage programs in terms of benefits. Of course, you need to be a veteran, an active duty military member, a Reservist or a member of the National Guard. If you are a veteran who is now a teacher, it’s a great opportunity. The benefits of a VA loan guarantee eclipse the other programs quite a bit. The three advantages that provide the most financial benefit are:

  • No down payment
  • No private mortgage insurance
  • Lower interest rates

These three benefits alone can potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars. Other benefits include:

  • The VA loan guarantee will limit your closing costs.
  • Does not require a minimum credit score (but your private lender may have a minimum).
  • You can use the benefit throughout your lifetime and can even have two VA loans at the same time if you are careful.
  • VA home loans are assumable.
  • There is no maximum loan amount, but the VA does limit its guarantee
  • The VA does not have a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio requirement (but it does have guidelines for your mortgage lender)
  • You aren’t automatically disqualified from a VA loan if you have had a bankruptcy in the past. If bankruptcy was more than a year ago, you could be eligible.
  • The VA home loan guarantee can be used for single-family homes (up to four units), condos, manufactured homes, new builds and home improvements like solar panels.
  • VA Loans may also be used by the surviving spouses of military service members killed in the line of duty.

There are some costs, and one of them is the VA Funding fee. For the first time home buyer, the federal agency lowers its funding fee (2.15% of the total loan). The VA funding fee is a one-time fee you pay to get the VA loan, but it can be folded into your monthly mortgage payments. The funding fee is waived for veterans with service-related injuries, disabilities or recipients of the Purple Heart.

If you want to know whether you qualify for eligibility requirements of the VA loan, based on your service history, they have a very useful chart that explains it.

The USDA Loan Program

USDA loans are part of a national program for folks who want to buy a home in a rural area. The agency defines rural areas as towns with less than 35,000 people, and it includes most of the United States.

The USDA Loan program has benefits that include:

  • No down payment.
  • USDA home loans typically have lower interest rates.
  • USDA loans do not technically have a minimum credit score. However, most private lenders will ask for a score around 640.
  • You can use a USDA loan guarantee to build a new home or buy an existing home. You can also use the money to renovate or move an existing home.
  • USDA loans are assumable.

The USDA loan guarantee also has some fees at closing. It has an upfront guarantee fee that costs 1% of the loan. Then it has an annual fee that costs 0.35% of the loan amount. You can roll these fees into the mortgage so you don’t need to pay the money at closing. There are also upper income limits on these loans and the home must be your primary residence.

Since about one third of the teachers in the U.S. (32%) work in rural schools, this program should be a great resource for educators, teachers and school administrators.

The FHA Loan Program

The FHA loan guarantees are for low-to-moderate-income earners who have low credit scores. The low down payment rules and relaxed credit requirements make this loan guarantee a good option for educators who are searching for affordable housing.

Here are some of the advantages of the FHA loan guarantee:

  • Low Down Payments – The FHA has a minimum down payment of 3.5%. Typical mortgages require up to 20%. Your down payment percentage may be higher if you have a credit score below 580.
  • Low Credit Scores – This program was designed for those who have a low credit score and cannot get a loan from conventional lenders.
  • Assumable – FHA loans are assumable. An assumable loan lets you sign your current mortgage over to a potential buyer without a lot of the paperwork. In addition, they assume your loan at the interest rate you got when you bought your house. That becomes a significant advantage for a seller in a real estate market where interest rates have gone up dramatically (for example, this year)

The FHA system does require two insurance-type fees at closing:

  • The Upfront Funding Fee is 1.75% of the total financed amount. It’s paid at closing, but it can be rolled into the mortgage and paid over time. This is a one-time fee.
  • The Mortgage Insurance Premiums is a fee you will be paying annually for the life of the loan. The current rate for MIP is 0.55%. You can roll this into your monthly mortgage payments.


One teacher home loan program that’s not in place yet has a great deal of potential for educators: the HELPER Act. It’s not a law yet, but Congress is currently considering it. The name stands for: Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator and Responder. It is being compared to VA loans…but for teachers. It would be an amazing teacher first time home buyer program if it passes. The benefits include:

  • No down payments
  • No private mortgage insurance (PMI)

Those two benefits on their own would potentially save you thousands of dollars, both up front and over the life of your mortgage. As with the other loan programs, there would be one upfront funding fee (3.6%) that would help in insure your loan.

The bill has bi-partisan support, and the President also supports it. If you are a public school teacher or educator, this is a bright spot in a tough housing market. The bill is waiting for action in the House Committee on Financial Services.

Receive an Average $3,000 Savings with Homes for Heroes

In addition to helping and supporting first time home buyer teachers, Homes for Heroes finishes up with a thank you check. It’s what we call Hero Rewards® savings and it’s a check we send you after closing on your new home. Teachers receive an average of $3,000 when they work with our real estate and mortgage specialists to close on their new home. And, if they buy and sell, the average savings doubles to $6,000.

At Homes for Heroes, we want to thank every hero in the nation, and that includes teachers and educators. We have the largest nationwide network of real estate and mortgage specialists ready to help you achieve homeownership.

Sign up now to get more information from our Homes for Heroes team. There is no obligation, cost, or extra paperwork for you. This is simply our way to say thank you for your service in the community.

Fill out this form to get started or learn more about Homes for Heroes, and we’ll reach out.

Veteran Home Loans | Get More Savings from Homes for Heroes

keys to a new home

Veteran home loans come in many shapes and sizes, but the one you should really concentrate on is the VA loan system. It can help veterans during various stages of their lives, whether you already own a home or are looking for a new home. The benefits of a VA loan guaranteed mortgage are substantial. Save yourself a lot of money, up front and over the course of your mortgage, by learning the basics of the VA loan system. The time you invest will be more than worth it.

There are other loans for veterans out there, and we will talk about those too.

Veteran Home Loans: Benefits of the VA System

young, smiling couple embracing each other and holding up a new house key after using veteran home loan to purchase house through Homes for Heroes

The military VA home loan program was established as part of the GI Bill right after World War II. It saw its 75th birthday in 2019, and it is still one of the most popular benefits offered to eligible veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs oversees it, and it has helped more than 25 million veterans and eligible service members since it began. It helped 1.2 million heroes in 2020 alone.

Before we jump into the benefits, it’s important to point out that the VA loan program doesn’t actually give you the loan. The loan, the mortgage and the money all come from either a private mortgage lender or a mortgage broker. The VA system insures the loan, guaranteeing for the lender so that they will get paid if you default. So, while it’s often referred to as the VA loan, it’s actually the VA loan guarantee.

What does that guarantee get you?
  • You will have no down payment on your mortgage loan.
  • You won’t need to buy private monthly mortgage insurance.
  • You will get a low competitive interest rate.
  • You will have a cap on your closing costs.
  • The program does not have a minimum credit score requirement–though many lenders will have a number they want you to have.
  • You do not have to be a first-time home buyer.
  • It’s a lifetime benefit–you can reuse the benefit.
  • VA home loans are assumable (which can be a big deal right now with interest rates rather high).
  • There is no maximum loan amount, but the VA does limit its guarantee. Veterans can borrow up to $647,000 without a down payment in most of the country.
  • The benefit can be extended to a surviving spouse or to families of soldiers killed in the line of duty.
  • The VA does not have a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio requirement, which is the comparison of your monthly income to the debts you have to pay each month. It does, however, have strong suggestions to private lenders about what to allow.
  • Single-family homes (up to four units), condos, manufactured homes, new builds and home improvements like solar panels can take advantage of the VA home loan benefit.

Of course, some of these benefits have some fine print that you should be aware of. The “no down payment” is true, but only if your mortgage loan comes in under a certain amount ($647,000 for example). It’s good to work with a mortgage specialist who knows what they are doing when it comes to the VA.

As a veteran, you may already have a home, and you may have already used the VA system to finance the home you live in right now. But did you know you can use the VA to help you refinance your mortgage, not just one, but in two different ways?

Refinance Your Veteran Home Loans Using the VA

After you’ve owned your home for a while, refinancing your mortgage may become a useful tool to help you in your financial life. The VA can help with that too.


The VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan is a refinance loan you can use the new loan to reduce the interest you pay on your mortgage. That typically becomes an option if interest rates are falling. Refinancing is a great idea. Why? Because it can reduce your monthly payment in the short term and your overall mortgage payments in the long term.

The VA characterizes the VA IRRRL as a streamline refinance. It requires a lot less documentation, fewer requirements and less stress overall. It is also a fast refinance and can typically be closed in about 30 days.

The VA IRRRL is only open to those who already have VA-guaranteed loans.

VA Cash Out Refinance

The Cash Out Refinance lets you refinance your mortgage and turn the equity you’ve developed in the property into cash. That means if you’ve been paying into your mortgage for years, that equity can become cash in your pocket. You can use this cash to repair your home, renovate it, install energy efficient elements, pursue your education and take care of emergencies (for example, medical bills). The choice is yours.

Unlike the VA IRRRL, this loan is not streamlined and very much like a typical refinance with all the rules and documents.

The big advantage for the Cash Out is that it is open to veterans who have VA loan eligibility but may have missed it the first time out. That ability to convert conventional loans into a VA mortgage, and get cash back, makes this a very attractive option under the right circumstances (see list of benefits above).

VA Grants You Should Know About

In addition to VA purchase loans, the VA has a couple of grants veterans should know about. They aren’t exactly Veteran home loans, but they designed these grants to help disabled and aging veterans make changes to a home to make it more livable. Two of the grants have almost identical names, so it’s tough to tell them apart.

The Special Home Adaptation Grant is to help disabled vets who want to build or buy or change their existing home to make it more accessible. In this case either you or a family member can be the owner. You must have a service-related disability and the maximum for this grant is $22,000.

The Specially Adapted Housing Grant is very similar, but this is for the vet who owns their own home and plans to live in it for some time. You need to have a service-related disability, and only 120 of these grants are issued each year. The upper limit on them is $109,986.

Home Improvements and Structural Alterations Grant will help vets make their existing home more accessible. This grant is not restricted to vets with service-related injuries–it’s open to all veterans. The lifetime limit on this grant is $6,800.

Other Options for Veteran Home Loans

There are two more federal government programs that are not military-specific, but they can help you find and buy a home if the circumstances are right. They are also worth a look.

FHA loans

The Federal Housing Administration insures FHA loans. With that insurance, the buyer only needs to put 3.5% down (conventional mortgages are much higher). Again, the government agency doesn’t give you the mortgage. It does, however, guarantee it so private lenders can reduce their requirements. The eligibility requirements are:

  • A credit score of 620* or higher
  • Proof of income (1-2 months of paystubs)
  • W2 forms for one year
  • An appraisal from an FHA-approved appraiser
  • Current debt information (auto loans, credit cards, etc.)
  • Acceptable debt-to-income ratio (DTI)
  • The home must be your primary residence

*FHA loans are available to home buyers who have credit scores as low as 580, but they do require mortgage insurance.

USDA Loans

Many retired military members are looking to live in rural areas or small towns. If that’s you, take a look at USDA loans. These loans, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture, offer:

  • No down payment
  • Reduced mortgage insurance

The government defines rural, in this case, to include about 97% of the U.S. map, so check this mortgage program out. It can save you thousands of dollars, both at closing and with your monthly payment.

At Homes for Heroes, we want to thank all the community heroes we can find, but veterans hold a special place in our hearts. They have the best stories and they inspire us. If you’re a vet, let us help you find a new home, sell your existing home, or refinance your mortgage. We have the team that can help you every step of the way. And then we will thank you with a Hero Rewards check at the end of the process.

Receive Average of $3,000 in Savings from Homes for Heroes

Homes for Heroes has been helping veterans for more than 20 years and our local mortgage specialists are adept at navigating Veteran homes loans through the VA.

“Overall great experience. I was able to use the Homes for Heroes program along with my VA loan and purchased the home of my dreams. The Homes for Heroes real estate agent was phenomenal and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you!” – Stephen, Navy, bought a new house in Texas.

Homes for Heroes can help veterans in at least three ways.

  • We provide a local, licensed real estate specialist who is committed to assisting their community heroes with buying or selling a home.
  • We provide a licensed mortgage specialist experienced in managing VA loans.
  • We provide Hero Rewards® savings after you close on a house or mortgage in the average amount of $3,000.

Because you need a private lender to get approved for a VA loan guarantee, we provide one.

On your part, there are no fees, no extra paperwork, no red tape. The process is exactly the same as a typical real estate transaction. You just receive excellent care from our real estate and mortgage specialists. And as a bonus for working with our local specialists, you receive Hero Rewards® savings.

For more information, or to speak with one of our local specialists with no obligation, simply sign up today.

To learn more about Homes for Heroes or to get started, fill out this form, and we’ll reach out.