By Grant Edrington – Updated April 28, 2023
Buying your first home is a milestone that should be celebrated, but it can also come with challenges. Home affordability has dramatically decreased as factors like inflation, supply shortages, and booming demand have increased prices, pushing many first-time homebuyers out of the market. Housing prices have also risen faster than wages since the 1960s, which has only become more apparent with the recent pandemic.
If you’re planning to settle down in Georgia, the Peach State offers several resources to help make the dream of home ownership more accessible. Before you get serious about house hunting, it’s helpful to learn about the various programs available to help Georgia residents buy their first home.
Shopping for your first home in another state? Check out our full first-time homebuyer program guide here.
Who Qualifies as a First-Time Homebuyer in Georgia?
The official definition of a first-time homebuyer may be broader than you think. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines a first-time homebuyer as someone who:
- Has never purchased a home before,
- Has not purchased a home within the past three years,
- Has only owned a home with a former spouse and is now a single parent or displaced homemaker,
- Has only owned a residence that did not comply with building codes and couldn’t be updated for less than the cost of building a new residence, or
- Has only owned a residence that did not have a permanent foundation (such as a mobile home).
2023 Georgia Homebuyer Statistics
These statistics should help give you an idea of recent homebuying conditions in Georgia:
- Median listing price statewide for December 2022: $379,000
- Median time homes are on the market in December 2022: 64 days
- REALTORS® Affordability Score for Georgia in August 2022 (1.00 being most affordable): 0.63
The Georgia Dream Program
One of the most beneficial first-time homebuyer programs Georgia offers is the Georgia Dream program, which lends first-time homebuyers up to $7,500 to help cover their down payment and closing costs. Some people—including active military, teachers, healthcare workers, and those with a family member who has a disability—could be eligible for up to $10,000.
These down payment assistance programs are zero-interest and have no monthly payments. You simply repay the loan when you sell, refinance, or move out of the residence. To qualify, you must be a first-time homebuyer (not have owned property in the last three years or plan to purchase in a targeted area) and have a low to moderate income, with limited liquid assets. Income limits vary based on household size and area.
Georgia Dream loans can supplement FHA, VA, USDA, and conventional loans, and your lender can check your Georgia Dream eligibility as part of your financing prequalification process.
Mortgage and Down-Payment Assistance Programs in Atlanta and Other Georgia Cities
Beyond the Georgia Dream program, there are several other down payment assistance programs that help ease financial barriers so more Georgians can become homeowners. We always recommend consulting with your real estate agent and lender as you evaluate these types of programs.
HOME Atlanta 4.0
If you have good credit (minimum of 660), a moderate (or low) income, and qualify for an FHA or VA mortgage, you may be eligible to receive a grant from HOME Atlanta 4.0 for up to 3.5% of the purchase price of a new home. This grant can be used to help cover down payment and closing costs for homes up to $375,000. As is the case with most grants, it doesn’t have to be repaid.
Atlanta Affordable Homeownership Program (AAHOP)
AAHOP offers up to $20,000 to cover down payment and closing costs for low-income Georgians with a minimum credit score of 580. After you live in the home for five to 10 years (depending on the amount borrowed), the AAHOP loan will be completely forgiven. To be eligible, you must qualify for a 30-year fixed-rate VA, FHA, or conventional mortgage up to $272,000 or $290,000, depending on your location.
Intown Mortgage Assistance Program
If you meet the moderate income requirements and can afford the $1,000 fee, the Intown Mortgage Assistance Program (IMAP) may provide $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance on a 30-year fixed-rate VA, FHA, or conventional mortgage for up to $375,000. Similar to AAHOP, this fee is also forgiven after you’ve lived in the home for five years. The credit requirements are slightly stricter for this one, ranging from 640 to 680 depending on loan type.
Vine City Renaissance Initiative
The Vine City Renaissance Initiative (VCRI) is another program that offers local Georgia homebuyers $10,000 in financial assistance, and the amount can be forgiven after living in the home for five years. It can be used with a home renovation mortgage loan for a home in the Vine City area.
There is no price cap for this program, and the credit requirement is determined by the individual lender. If eligible, you’ll need to pay a $1,000 fee and attend a renovation education class from a designated community provider.
Perry Bolton Mortgage Assistance Program
If you purchase a home in Georgia for $300,000 or less in the Perry Bolton Tax Allocation District, this program may offer up to $20,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance that will be forgiven after you’ve lived in the home for five years. As with the VCRI program, there is a one-time fee of $1,000. The amount you’re eligible for varies based on the house condition (if it’s deemed permanently affordable) and your income compared to the area’s median.
Divvy for First-Time Homebuyers
If you’re a first-time homebuyer in Georgia and want to eventually buy a home in the Atlanta or Macon, GA areas, Divvy is another option to consider. If you currently don’t qualify for some of the existing Georgia mortgage down payment options due to lower credit scores or income requirements, Divvy may be able to help put you on the path to homeownership.
Divvy is a unique rent-to-own program where a portion of your payments can build into savings for things like a future down payment. When you’re ready, you have the option to purchase the home through Divvy—or you can walk away with your savings, minus a surrender fee and any other potential deductions. If you do choose to purchase your home, you may be able to take advantage of some of the first-time homebuyer programs mentioned earlier, if you qualify. Just be sure to work with your mortgage lender as you review your options.
With Divvy, you have a wide selection of well-vetted homes to choose from, or you can ask Divvy to buy a specific home, within your approved budget and our home criteria, and then rent it from us until you’re ready to buy. By offering all-cash offers, Divvy has increased buying power which can give you an advantage over other homebuyers and access to more home variety than with other programs.
At Divvy, we believe that every American should be able to purchase a home. In most cases, you only need a credit score of 550 or higher, three months of verifiable work history, and monthly income of $2,500 to qualify. You can find our full list of qualifications here.
Note: Divvy is not affiliated with the first-time homebuyer programs mentioned in this article. Be aware that requirements for these programs may change. We recommend consulting with a lender or real estate agent when evaluating first-time home buyer programs.
Georgia First-Time Homebuyer FAQs
Does Georgia have a first-time homebuyer’s program?
As a first-time homebuyer in Georgia, you have access to several different programs designed to help more people achieve their dream of home ownership.
Can I buy a house in Georgia with no down payment?
Though they vary by lender, there are zero-down payment loan programs available. There are numerous assistance programs for first-time homebuyers in Georgia that help cover the down payment and closing costs when buying a home. Some programs even forgive the loan after a period or offer funds as a grant, so you don’t have to repay the full amount. With Divvy, you only need to put down 1% – 2% of the selling price.
What program is best for first-time homebuyers in Georgia?
The program that’s best for you depends on your personal situation. Factors like your income, debt levels, and credit standing—as well as the cost and location of the home you want to buy—can affect which programs you’re eligible for and which is best for you.
What credit score do I need for first-time homebuyer assistance in Georgia?
The required minimum credit score varies by program and may vary by lender. Divvy, for instance, typically only requires a 550 credit score, whereas the IMAP program requires a minimum of 640.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD Archives: HOC Reference Guide—First-Time Homebuyers (Page 3-02)
- Georgia Department of Community Affairs (First-Time Homebuyer FAQ | Georgia Department of Community Affairs (ga.gov)
- Georgia Government Official Website (Apply for the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program | Georgia.gov)
- REALTOR.com Research/Data – Inventory – Monthly – All Residential – State (Realtor.com Real Estate Data and Market Trends for Download)
- REALTORS® Affordability Distribution Curve & Score (REALTORS® Affordability Distribution Curve and Score (nar.realtor)
- Georgia Department of Community Affairs (Homebuyers | Georgia Department of Community Affairs (ga.gov)
Grant is a member of the marketing team and focuses on connecting aspiring homeowners in our metros with Divvy. He's worked on marketing teams spanning all parts of the homeownership journey, including home loans, power tools and home improvement, siding and flooring, and now Divvy. Grant graduated from Villanova University and became a homeowner in 2021.