Homebuyer Assistance

Homeownership is a dream for many Houstonians but out of reach for many residents. The City offers up to $30,000 to income-qualified residents.

The City offers to assist first-time homebuyers within the city through our Homebuyer Assistance Program.

Do I Qualify?

  • First-time homebuyer (or have not owned a home in the last 3 years).
  • Household income at or below 80% of Area Median Income .
  • Home you want to purchase pays taxes to the City of Houston.

Our assistance is a no-interest, forgivable loan secured by a lien. The loan is fulfilled if the buyer lives in the home for five years. If the buyer sells or moves out of the home before the end of five years, they will pay back the City for a portion of the original loan amount.

Seven Easy Steps to Homeownership

The Homebuyer Assistance Program takes about six weeks, provided there are no external delays. Please note that the six weeks is measured from the time the applicant submits a complete application. We cannot begin work on an incomplete application.

Application and Follow-Up Documents


The applicant submits all documents on the Applicant Document Checklist .

Below are links to all of our internal forms:

Before submitting an application, the applicant must call 832.394.6200 to receive their applicant HAP ID number

Incomplete applications cannot be processed. Please be sure that you have collected all the documents on the Applicant Document Checklist before submitting your application.

Once submitted, the City reviews all documentation and will issue a Conditional Reservation Letter to accepted applicants.

Property & Lender

Once you receive a Conditional Reservation Letter, it is time to put a property under contract.

The lender will need to submit all the documents on the Property & Lenders Checklist

Below is a list of all our internal documents:

Please note TREC inspections will only be accepted if they were completed after construction.

The City then reviews all documentation provided while the file is in underwriting. Meanwhile, the property will go through an environmental review, then will be inspected.

If approved, the City will then issue a Commitment Letter .

Funding and Closing

Once you receive a Commitment Letter , you will be informed of a possible closing date and will sign the Terms and Conditions of the assistance being provided by the City.

Instructions and loan closing documents are sent to the title company and lender, who submit pre-closing documents, including:

How to Submit Documents

Electronically (Preferred)

Via Online Portal

Open Portal View Instructions

Or via email: Applicants | Lenders

Paper Documents
Via Mail or In Person
Housing & Community Development Department
2100 Travis Street, 9th Floor
Houston, TX, 77002

Frequently Asked Questions - Applicants

Q: How long does the process take? -

A: The Homebuyer Assistance Program takes about six weeks, provided there are no external delays. Please note that the six weeks is measured from the time the applicant submits a complete application. We cannot begin work on an incomplete application.

Q: Are there any fees associated with the program? -

A: The buyer must contribute a minimum of $350 to the down payment of the home, but no additional fees are paid to the City of Houston. If someone tells you that there are participation fees, please report them for fraud .

Q: Is this program only available in certain areas? -

A: No, the Homebuyer Assistance Program applies to any home that pays taxes to the City of Houston .

Q: Are credit reports required for all household adults? -

A: No. All household income must be reported, but only the loan applicant’s credit is reviewed during underwriting.

Q: Is there a debt-to-income requirement? -

A. Yes, the program requires a 45% back-end ratio. The back-end ratio is calculated by adding together all of a borrower’s monthly debt payments and dividing the sum by the borrower’s monthly gross income. For example, if a borrower has a monthly gross income of $5,000 and monthly debt payments of $2,000, their back-end ratio is 40% ($2000/$5000). The Homebuyer Assistance Program requires that an applicant has a back-end ratio less than 45%.

Q: Is there a credit score requirement? -

A: No, the Homebuyer Assistance Program does not consider credit score.

Q: Is there a maximum home price? -

A: No. The buyer can select any home that fits their needs and budget.

Q: What can the assistance provided be used for? -

A: The assistance CAN be used for:

  • Down-payment
  • Pre-paid items (homeowner’s insurance, mortgage interest, property taxes, etc.)
  • Subsidize mortgage interest rate
  • Reduce principal amount of first mortgage payment
  • Reasonable closing costs

The assistance CANNOT be used for:

  • Realtor’s commissions

Q: What is the five-year second lien? -

A: When the City provides assistance for someone to buy a home, we are making an investment for someone to live in the home for the long-term. We require they live within the home for five years, secured through a forgivable loan. The loan is automatically forgiven at the end of the five-year residency period. At the end of the five years, please submit this Release of Lien Request to HCDDLoanServicing@houstontx.gov.

Q: What if I have to sell my home or move out before the five years are over? -

A: In these cases, the City will collect a portion of the investment made, proportional to the amount of time remaining in the residency period. For example, if the City provided $30,000, and the homebuyer moves after two years, they will only be charged for the three remaining years, or $18,000. To begin this process, please submit this Payoff Statement Request form to HCDDLoanServicing@houstontx.gov.

Q: What if I need to refinance my home? -

A: If your mortgage information changes, you will need to share the new information with our department. Please submit this Subordination Agreement Request to HCDDLoanServicing@houstontx.gov.

FAQs - Real Estate and Lending Professionals

Q: Does this program follow FHA guidelines? -

A: No. The Homebuyer Assistance Program sets and follows its own internal guidelines. Our underwriting includes calculating debt-to-income ratio, ensuring that there are no outstanding collections for government services or utilities, and verifying that there are no defaulted student loans.

Q: Is there a cost for the City’s inspection? What does this inspection include? -

A: The inspection is a free service conducted by our department. A sample of the inspection can be downloaded (alternative version . Please note that the City’s inspection does not replace an independent inspection; we strongly recommend that the buyer do their own inspection.

A TREC inspection is required and must be conducted after construction is completed on newly constructed properties.

Q: What is the environmental review, and why is it needed? -

A: The environmental review primarily looks at where the home is located relative to the floodway and floodplains. Homes located in flood zones are required to have flood insurance to complete the purchase.

Q: Is there a mandatory training that lenders and realtors must take to participate in the program? -

A: No. Any lenders and realtors may participate. For realtors and lenders, view our workshop replay video on youtube for additional information.

Q: Who is the loan servicer? -

A: The Homebuyer Assistance Program is serviced internally with our Loan Servicing Division. The loan is not amortized; however, there is a 6% fee applied to the defaulted loan balance.

Q: Can the program funds be used to pay realtor commissions? -

A: No, the funds are strictly for down payment, closing costs, pre-paids and principal reduction. Should the buyer choose to pay a realtor commission, they will have to do so from their personal funds.

Single-Family Loan Servicing

Participants in our Single-Family programs, including our Home Repair programs and our Homebuyer Assistance Program, must comply with the affordability period specified in their contracts. Some types of assistance include a loan on the property for a duration outlined in their contract.

To fulfill the terms of the contract, the homeowner must live in the home for the entire affordability period without selling, leasing, or transferring ownership of the property. At that point, a Release of Lien can be started.

In the case that the homeowner decides to break the terms of the affordability period, they will need to repay the City some or all of their loan. For questions, please call us at 832.394.6200 and ask to speak to Loan Servicing.

Forms needed to be released from the loan can be found below:

Document Name Description Download
Release of Lien Request Form for requesting a release from the City’s loan on the property, either at the end of the affordability period or when choosing to repay the City before the end of the affordability period. View
Payoff Statement Request Form to ask for payoff statement before the end of the affordability period. View
Subordination Agreement Request Form to use when changing terms of mortgage. View