Exploring the Smart Mortgage Centers Grant Programs: A Closer Look at Your Homeownership Opportunities

Navigating the realm of home buying can be daunting, especially for first-time buyers. However, with the right assistance, the dream of homeownership becomes a more achievable reality. Smart Mortgage Centers offers innovative grant programs designed to help buyers manage the financial hurdles of purchasing a home. Today, we delve into one such program: the 3.5% Down Payment Assistance (DPA), which comes with both repayable and forgivable options, among other appealing features.  Give us a call to find a grant program that works for you (888)416-0920.

Understanding the 3.5% DPA: Repayable or Forgivable Options

The 3.5% Down Payment Assistance program is aimed at reducing the upfront costs associated with buying a home. Buyers can choose between a repayable loan or a forgivable grant, providing flexibility based on their financial plans and long-term housing goals. The forgivable option typically involves no repayment if certain conditions are met, such as living in the home for a predetermined number of years, which makes it an attractive choice for those planning to settle long-term.

Eligibility and Loan Features

  • Credit Score Requirements: To qualify, all borrowers must have at least one credit score, and a minimum FICO score of 600 is required. This relatively low credit threshold opens doors for many potential homeowners.
  • Combined Loan-to-Value (CLTV): The program allows for a maximum CLTV of 100%, meaning the sum of all loans secured by the property can equal the property’s value. This feature is particularly beneficial for buyers who do not have additional funds for a down payment.
  • Automated Underwriting System (AUS): All loans must be DU (Desktop Underwriter) approve/eligible, ensuring that loan applications are processed efficiently and meet the standards set by Fannie Mae. Importantly, manual underwrites are not permitted, which emphasizes the streamlined and standardized process of qualification.
  • Property Eligibility: The eligible properties include single-unit dwellings, condos, and townhomes, which broadens the scope for applicants considering various types of homeownership.

Loan Specifications and Limitations

  • Processing Fees: Our team doesn’t charge third party processing fees, reducing the burden of additional costs on the borrower.
  • Loan Amounts and Limits: Loans are capped at county-specific limits, so potential borrowers should check the limits in their intended area of purchase.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): There is no maximum DTI ratio according to the Automated Underwriting System (AUS), providing greater leeway for borrowers with higher levels of debt.
  • Primary Residency Requirement: The first lien must be on a primary residence, confirming that the property purchased is intended for owner-occupancy. Additionally, the property must be a single unit, and the loan secured must be for a purchase with a 30-year term.

How to Apply and What to Consider

To apply for the Smart Mortgage Centers’ grant programs, potential borrowers should first ensure they meet the basic eligibility criteria, particularly regarding their credit score and the property type. It’s also advised to consult with a loan officer from Smart Mortgage Centers to discuss the specifics of your financial situation and to understand the nuances of the repayable versus forgivable options.

When considering these grant programs, it’s crucial to evaluate your long-term financial stability and housing needs. Choosing between a repayable loan and a forgivable grant depends largely on your financial planning and how long you intend to stay in the home. It’s also worth considering other available grants and comparing them to ensure that you’re choosing the best option for your circumstances.


The Smart Mortgage Centers grant programs, particularly the 3.5% DPA, offer promising pathways to homeownership for many, especially those who might find the initial financial requirements of buying a home prohibitive. By understanding the details and carefully planning your approach, these programs can provide substantial financial relief, making your dream of owning a home a well-supported reality.

Give us a Call to Qualify for a Grant in your area (888)416-0920.

About Brian Birk