Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, buying a new home or refinancing, there are many programs available to meet your goals and unique situation. Different lenders, loan types and special programs will all have different rates, minimum down payment and mortgage insurance requirements.

Unlike traditional mortgage programs, new purchase programs may also have different minimum credit scores, income limits and debt limits. It's important to discuss these options and your individual situation with a licensed professional before deciding which program is right for you.

Traditional mortgage programs include FHA 203b, FHA 203k, FHA Streamline Refinance, HARP Refinance, conforming conventional, non-conforming Jumbo, VA and USDA loans.


If you've never purchased a home or haven't had any ownership interest in a home within the last 3 years, you're considered a first-time homebuyer.

Most residential loan programs allow you to purchase 1-4 unit primary residences using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or conventional loans.

The biggest differences between FHA and conventional loans are the minimum down payment required and the amount of mortgage insurance required. But they also have different credit score and debt-to-income ratio requirements.


Many of the new loan programs offered to first-time homebuyers are also available to current homeowners who want to sell their current home and purchase a new one. Depending on the program, advantages may include reduced or eliminated private mortgage insurance (PMI), no appraisal, lower down payment and higher debt ratios.

Aside from regular FHA and Conventional loans, special programs include Minnesota Housing Agency's down payment assistance, HomePossible and My Community loans. Other programs such as HomePath and HomeSteps are open to everyone, including investors.


Down payment assistance can come from various sources including non-profits, city and county governments. American Mortgage & Equity Consultants, Inc., is a Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) lender and offers their down payment assistance programs.

Down payment assistance can be used with either FHA or conventional loans and are for first-time homebuyers as well as those selling their current residence to purchase a new home. Minnesota Housing Finance Agency also offers loans without mortgage insurance and a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program which offers tax credits for every year you live in your home.


If you're a current homeowner or investor, you can refinance your property for many different reasons including obtaining lower monthly payments, switching from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate, consolidating debt, combining a second mortgage or simply accessing cash.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was introduced to allow homeowner's more flexibility to refinance their homes and investment properties. Advantages include no appraisal requirement and higher debt ratios, and if you're not currently paying mortgage insurance, you don't have to after you refinance either.