There’s good news for Charlotte-area home buyers looking to buy their first home. The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has increased its down payment assistance program from $8,000 to $15,000. If you qualify for an NC 1st Home Advantage mortgage and fulfill the requirements, you could receive a 100% forgivable second mortgage of up to $15,000 to help you afford a new home.

Here’s what the NC 1st Home Advantage down payment program entails, why the amount has increased, and what you need to qualify.

How the NC 1st Home Advantage Program Works

The NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment program offers eligible, first-time homebuyers and veterans down payment assistance in the form of a second mortgage with a 0% interest rate. This second mortgage is deferred and forgivable, meaning that if you fulfill the requirements, you don’t have to pay it back. 

You’ll owe no payments for the first 10 years. Then 20% of the loan is forgiven at the end of each year for five years (in other words, years 11-15). At the end of the fifth year, the mortgage is completely forgiven.

To qualify for the NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment Assistance program, you must:

  • Be a first-time home buyer, a military veteran, or buying in a targeted area
  • Have an income that meets program limits (less than $96,000 for Mecklenburg County residents, for example)
  • Be a legal U.S. resident
  • Have a credit score of 640 or greater
  • Have a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45% or less

You must also qualify for the NC 1st Home Advantage Mortgage, which is a separate home loan.

You can be buying a townhome, condo, or single-family home, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • Your home purchase price must not exceed $385,000
  • The home must be located in North Carolina
  • The home must be your primary residence (within 60 days of closing)

Refinances, second homes, vacation homes, jumbo loans, and loans to purchase rental properties (such as for AirBnB) are not eligible.

Helping buyers afford a Charlotte home

Previously worth $8,000, the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency increased the amount of the assistance this year to keep pace with the housing market, as home prices have been increasing steadily.

The median home price in NC is now $340,000, according to Redfin data; up over 3% year over year, with 23% of homes selling over list price. Meanwhile, the median household income is $60,516.

You can use our Mortgage Calculator to estimate how muchyou can afford.

Programs like NC 1st Home Advantage help regular Charlotte families afford their first home even as the market remains hot.

And there’s more help available, too. Charlotte residents can explore the House Charlotte program, which offers up to $30,000 of down payment assistance in the form of a forgivable, 30-year-loan for families earning less than 80% of the median income. The House Charlotte Plus program works in conjunction with House Charlotte to offer up to $50,000. And for residents earning between 80% and 110% of the median, there’s a House Charlotte program that provides up to $10,000 in assistance.

And, of course, popular loan programs like USDA loans, FHA loans, and VA loans are great mortgage options for first-time buyers in the Charlotte area. 

These programs help low- to moderate-income families afford the rising price of homeownership, making a home more accessible and more affordable. 

Plus, homebuyer education, which is often a crucial component of these programs, helps Charlotte shoppers better understand the mortgage process.

How to Apply for the NC 1st Home Advantage Program

If you’re interested in the NC 1st Home Advantage Program, you’ll need to connect with a participating lender. Not all lenders are qualified and approved to participate in this program. Fairway Mortgage of the Carolinas is proud to be a participating lender, helping provide first-time home buyers with everything they need to know to begin the home-buying process.

To apply for the NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment, connect with a Fairway mortgage specialist to complete a home mortgage application.

Your mortgage application must comply with FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae HFA Preferred or Freddie Mac HFA Advantage industry guidelines. Once complete, the loan officer will provide this document to the NC Housing Finance Authority for review and approval.

The North Carolina housing market is still highly competitive, but it doesn’t have to hold you back from home ownership. With the right information, assistance, and support, you can find the mortgage — and the home — that’s perfect for you. Contact Fairway and let our team guide you through the process and set you up for success.