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Financial Wellness

Finding the Right Fit: An Overview of Common Homeownership Assistance Programs

Emily Eshman | 17 Jan 2018

When we started Landed, our goal was to create a way for essential professionals to access homeownership and put roots in their communities. While Landed has been and can be a transformative tool for many, we are aware that our program is not a fit for all homebuyers. In fulfilling our mission to help educators live near the communities they serve, occasionally, our work gravitates towards helping customers find other programs that may be better suited to their current situation. Fortunately, as the challenge of accessing homeownership persists, more and more programs for down payment assistance are now available.

These programs vary in their eligibility requirements - for both the homebuyer as well as the properties eligible for purchase - which makes it challenging to keep track. To help our homebuyers determine which homeownership program is the best fit for their needs, we created an overview of common homeownership programs, highlighting the program eligibility questions we hear most frequently. For a comprehensive guide to eligibility requirements, please visit the corresponding website for each program.

Which homeownership assistance program is the right fit for you?

Categories Federal Gov't-backed Loans
Ex: Fed. Housing Admin (FHA) Loan
City and County Loans
Ex: Homebuying Empowerment Loan Program (HELP)
Mortgage with Low Down Payment Landed's down payment program
Overview There are many different types of fed govt.-backed loans. The most popular are FHA loans, which only require homebuyers to put 3.5% down and allows for homebuyers who might not otherwise meet conventional underwriting reqs. Many cities and counties have programs that help educators buy homes. Example: Housing Trust Silicon Valley offers down payment assistance for first-time buyers of Santa Clara Coutny homes who make less than 140% of Area Median Income. Some lenders only require you to put 10% down Landed's down payment program provides support to homebuyers, in exchange for sharing a portion of the future appreciation of a home. Provides extremely customized and localized service.
Only for first-time homebuyers? No Varies No No
Reserved for specific community members? Open to all community members - must have 2 years of employment at the same company. Yes, typically. No Landed works with education, government, and healthcare employees in select metro areas.
What type of home may I purchase? • Single-family home
• 2-4 unit properties
• Certain manufactured and mobile homes
• FHA- approved condos and townhomes
Varies Varies • Townhome
• Single-family home
• Condo
• Multiplex
• Duplex
Is there a loan limit? Varies
The Housing Finance Agency calculates loan limits annually by using a value work 115% of the median home price in each area.
The Housing Finance Agency calculates loan limits annually by using a value work 115% of the median home price in each area. E.g., the HELP program has a max purchase price of $800K
Varies No
Where is this program available? The United States The United States The United States Select metro areas. Visit landed.com/availability for details.
Minimum down payment 3.5% Varies 10% 5%
Requires mortgage insurance? Yes Varies Yes No
You would pick this if... You have very little money to put towards a down payment. You meet the specific parameters of a government program. You don't have cash in hand for a 20% down payment, and you want all the risks and rewards of homeownership. You have 10% to put towards a down payment, and are looking for a partner to share some of the risks of homeownership. HEDGE + share risk


When does it make sense to use Landed? In summary, Landed can be a great fit for an educator that is able to contribute their own 10% down payment and wants to maximize their options while sharing in the risk of homeownership. Landed can also be a great option in a competitive market as it allows homebuyers to put 20% down (see our post on the power of the 20% down payment). And when might a federal, city, or county program be a better fit? These programs can be a good fit when educators have less than 10% to put down and meet specific criteria (i.e. their combined household income is less than 140% area median income (AMI)) and are focusing their search within a specific city or county.

We’ve included a list of a few alternative homeownership assistance programs below. Note, that most programs cannot be “layered” or used simultaneously (i.e. you can’t use a FHA loan and Landed at the same time). We’re always available to talk through the tradeoffs of various homeownership assistance programs. Please reach out to hi@landed.com and we’d be happy to chat.

A short list of common federal and local homeownership assistance programs:

Federal Programs
What is an FHA Loan?
What is a VA Loan?

City and County-Wide Programs
Down payment Assistance Loan Program (DALP) (San Francisco)
Teacher Next Door Program (San Francisco)
HEART Opening Doors Program (San Mateo County)
Housing Empowerment Loan Program (HELP) (Santa Clara County, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park)
Below Market Rate Housing (Varies)

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Financial Wellness

About the Author

Emily Eshman

Chief of Staff and Head of Social Impact at Landed. Idahoan, blue devil, and teacher.

Looking for Landed's down payment program? Due to a temporary unavailability of DPP investment funds, all Landed metro areas are being put on a DPP waitlist effective September 8, 2022. You can read all the details (including FAQs) here if you would like to know more.