Federal Housing Programs

There are government and non-profit loan programs to help you get into a home. They provide counseling, education and loans that are safe and affordable. These are not just low income housing programs; they are programs to foster home ownership and help first-time homebuyers and others on their way to the American Dream.

You’ve probably heard of HUD and FHA and Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and VA and USDA. But what you may not know is how they can help you.

It might be just the help you need to get into a home…


The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) — which is part of the Department of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — insures their loans, so your lender can offer you a better deal.

With recent changes in FHA loans have expanded the number of people and properties that qualify. FHA loans have been helping people become homeowners since 1934. Recently they have been about 40% of the loans that buyers have used in Washington.

FHA might be just what you need. FHA loans are able to provide:

  • Low down payments
  • Low closing costs
  • Easy credit qualifying

Your down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price, and most of your closing costs and fees can be included in the loan.

Information on FHA loans

FHA Resource Center

Contact an FHA counselor in WA State

Loan limits for FHA loans for every county in Washington

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are Government Sponsored Entities (GSE’s) created to be a national resource to expand bank’s abilities for lending by buying their loans so they can lend out more.

To sell a loan to these entities, a bank needs to meet Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac established guidelines, which include maximum loan limits. These maximum loan limits are reviewed annually and may change based on national home values. Loans greater in size than saleable to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are considered non-conforming or “Jumbo” loans. Those that are within the limits are called conforming loans

And there are new, higher conforming loan limits under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac letting you borrow higher amounts at a cheaper rate make home buying more affordable in the nation’s highest cost areas.

The loan limit changes for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are recent. You now may be able to get into a home when you thought you couldn’t before. For a description of these changes and the new limits:

Loan Limits for Fannie Mae for all counties (scroll down to WA counties)

Loan limits for Freddie Mac loans

Veterans Administration and USDA Loans

Other government loan programs, which can offer loans with lower interest rates and down payments are offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS). Each program has its own requirements. See if you qualify!

VA Rules for Eligibility

USDA Rules for Income and Property Eligibility

Help for those with disabilities

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), federal housing program financially helps moderate or low-income families with disabilities to rent or buy a home. The goal of this program is for people with limited economy to be able to afford to rent or buy a home. Section 8 offers subsidies for both renters and home owners. Approved recipients will be granted monthly home ownership assistance payments to help cover mortgage payments.

The Washington State Housing Finance Commission

The WSHFC has a homeownership division that provides programs that help low and moderate income, first-time homebuyers purchase a home.

Non-profit help

The National Opportunities for Affordable Housing Foundation (NOAH) is a non-profit agency committed to the provision of affordable housing through diligent pursuit of home ownership opportunities. NOAH’s vision is to make that dream of home ownership a reality. Did you know that there is unused “FREE money” available to both first-time and next-time repeat home buyers? NOAH can help you leverage these resources to make home buying simple, easier and more affordable.

Homes for Our Troops is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that provides specially adapted homes for severely injured service members. Through the growing network of monetary contributions, donations from building contractors, suppliers, corporate supporters and local volunteers, they are able to provide assistance at no cost to the veterans that they serve.

Next: Help Buying a Home