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What assistance does New York City offer to buy your first home and how can I access it?

Buying property in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world is not easy, but you might be able to claim some financial support.

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New York City is regularly ranked among the most expensive places to live in the United States. In 2021 Rocket Mortgage found that NYC was second only to San Francisco in terms of the costliest American locations.

The price of a single square foot in Manhattan is close to the average monthly mortgage payment across the US, meaning that New York City is a very expensive place to find a first home.

Fortunately there are programs on offer, both from the city and at a state level, which provide financial support for first time home-owners.

NYC’s HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program

The lump sum down payment is often the biggest stumbling block for first time buyers, who may have to come up with a six-figure sum to get a mortgage on their chosen property. Typically the amount required is reflective of both the value of the property and the financial means of the buyer, meaning that first-timers in NYC will likely have to fork out a considerable amount.

Fortunately the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program can offer up to $100,000 to put toward either the down payment or the closing costs for a property in New York City. The program applies to a family home with up to four bedrooms, a condominium, or a cooperative in one of NYC’s five boroughs.

To be eligible for the program, you must be a first-time homebuyer with their own savings to contribute to the requirements. The recipient must agree to complete a homebuyer education course taught by an approved counselling agency and the property must pass a Housing Quality Standards inspection.

For more information on how to apply, check out NYC Housing’s About HomeFirst help page.

What support can I get from New York State?

HomeFirst should probably be the first port of call for prospective homebuyers in the city, but there is also a whole host of programs provided by the state government which can also be accessed by NYC residents.

The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) offers a wide variety of assistance programs for first-time New York state homebuyers. For these programs SONYMA is a bit more lenient, covering anyone who hasn’t owned a primary residence in three years and who don’t currently own second homes in their definition of ‘first-time homebuyer’.

Full information for the programs on offer can be found on the SONYMA website:

- Conventional Plus

- FHA Plus

- Homes for Veterans

- Achieving the Dream

- Remodel NY

- Neighbourhood Revitalization

- Graduate to Homeownership


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