Who is a first-time home buyer? This page defines and explains the term "first-time homebuyer."

Who is a first-time homebuyer?
For most homeownership programs funded by federal, state or local funding, a first-time homebuyer is an individual who has not owned and occupied a home of their own in the past three years.  

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a funder of many related homeownership programs, has an expanded definition of the term which includes any individual that meets any of the following criteria:

  • An individual who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase of the property. This includes a spouse (if either meets the above test, they are considered first-time homebuyers).
  • A single parent who has only owned with a former spouse while married
  • An individual who is a displace homemaker and has only owned with a spouse.
  • An individual who has only owned a principal residence not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation in accordance with applicable regulations.
  • An individual who has only owned a property that was not in compliance with state, local or model building codes and which cannot be brought into compliance for less than the cost of constructing a permanent structure.

How do they check to see if you are a first-time homebuyer?
Typically homebuying program staff or mortgage lenders prove that a client is a first-time homebuyer by reviewing recent federal tax returns.  They look at them to see that an applicant has not claimed the federal mortgage interest deduction for a principal residence in the past three years. 

Have you owned a home in the past three years?
The most commonly used definition of a first-time homebuyer includes individuals who have 0wned home more than three years ago. So that means if you used to own a home but have not for the past three years, you can still qualify for most first-time homebuyer programs!

Ask your local housing agency and mortgage lenders to see if you qualify as a first-time homebuyer for the programs they offer.

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