Understanding CHFA First-Time Homebuyer Assistance Programs

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) offers several programs to help first-time homebuyers realize their dream of home ownership. From down payment assistance to special loan programs, there are options for Coloradoans from all walks of life.

If you’re a Colorado first-time home buyer, it’s important to understand which CHFA programs are available and their requirements.

CHFA Mortgage Assistance Program Requirements

The CHFA has some general program requirements that borrowers must meet. Applicants must:

  • Have a minimum mid-credit score of 620
  • Meet the income requirements
  • Contribute at least $1,000 to the purchase of the home
  • Attend a homebuyer education course that’s CHFA-approved (virtual or in-person)

The course must be completed before the loan closes. Borrowers must also meet the lender’s underwriting requirements, which will vary from lender to lender.

CHFA Home Loan Programs for a Colorado First Time Home Buyer

There are several different types of CHFA loans offered through participating lenders. The Plus versions of these programs are for second mortgages or grants used for down payments and closing costs.

The CHFA’s home loan programs include:

CHFA Preferred/Preferred Plus

The CHFA Preferred/Preferred Plus program is a 30-year Fannie Mae HFA Advantage or HFA Preferred home purchase loan with a fixed rate.

Like other CHFA programs, buyers must meet income and credit score requirements. However, with this program, PMI coverage is capped at 18%.

CHFA Very Low Income Program

The Very Low Income program is a 30-year Freddie Mac HFA Advantage loan with a fixed rate. As its name suggests, the program is designed for Coloradoans with very low incomes. Eligibility will depend on the lender’s calculation of qualifying income.

Like the Preferred/Preferred Plus program, PMI coverage is capped at 18%.

CHFA FirstStep/FirstStep Plus

The FirstStep and FirstStep Plus program is restricted only to:

  • First-time buyers
  • Veterans
  • People who aren’t first-time buyers in targeted areas

These are FHA loans that follow FHA guidelines when it comes to LTV/CLTV.

The FirstStep/FirstStep Plus program can’t be combined with other MCC programs, and it is subject to Federal Recapture Tax.

Eligibility will depend on the CHFA’s calculation of the borrower’s gross annual income.

CHFA SmartStep/SmartStep Plus

The SmartStep/SmartStep Plus programs are 30-year fixed rate USDA, VA or FHA loans. They follow their respective requirements for LTV/CLTV and mortgage insurance.

These programs have an income limit of $130,200.

CHFA HomeAccess/HomeAccess Plus

The HomeAccess and HomeAccess Plus programs are either USDA-RD or FHA 203(b) loans only. They have a few stringent requirements. Buyers must:

  • Be first first-time home buyers or qualified veterans
  • Have a permanent disability or be the parent of a child with a permanent disability

Income limits also apply for this program, which is subject to Federal Recapture Tax. Eligibility will depend on the CHFA’s calculation of gross annual income.

CHFA SectionEight Homeownership

The SectionEight Homeownership program is similar to the HomeAccess program in that it offers ISDA-RD and FHA 203(b) loans. These are 30-year loans with a fixed rate.

The SectionEight program is limited to:

  • First-time buyers or veterans
  • Borrowers receiving Section 8 assistance

CHFA Down Payment Assistance

Along with home purchase loan programs, the CHFA also offers options for down payment assistance, which include:


A down payment assistant grant can provide:

  • Up to 3% of the mortgage

The advantage of a grant is that you don’t have to pay it back.

Second Mortgage

Another option is to take out a second mortgage to cover the down payment and closing costs.

The CHFA second mortgage option offers:

  • Up to 4% of your first mortgage
  • Deferred repayment until you sell the home, refinance the home, pay off the first mortgage or some other event occurs

The CHFA mortgage assistance and down payment programs help first-time buyers realize the benefits of homeownership and the responsibility of owning a home. If you’re a first-time buyer, you may consider these programs when weighing your financing options.

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