Down Payment Assistance Program Guide

The Problem

Saving enough money to afford a sufficient down payment and to cover closing costs is a persistent barrier to homeownership. Prospective buyers need either extensive savings or access to affordable financial assistance to become homeowners in high-cost markets like Washington, DC. The majority of Black and Latinx communities are priced out of the market.

The Solution

Through our DPA Program, eligible buyers receive down payment assistance of up to 20% of the property’s purchase price, for a maximum of $100,000. Buyers under 100% Median Family Income (MFI), may receive additional purchase assistance, up to $10,000. Purchase assistance funds may be used for closing costs or debts like student loans or car notes that can affect a borrower’s debt ratios. Use of  purchase assistance to pay down debts is subject to first trust mortgage lender approval.

How it Works

We partner with first trust mortgage lenders to issue a second trust mortgage for down payment assistance. The interest rate is set at that of the first trust mortgage minus 2%. Program participants receive a 5-year interest deferred period with no required monthly payment. At the end of the 5 year period borrowers begin making monthly principal and interest payments for the remaining 25 years or until the property is sold, refinanced, or the note matures, at which time the balance of the down payment and closing cost assistance is repaid in full. The deferred interest is repaid as a balloon payment when the property is sold, refinanced or the loan matures.

Buyers can choose a home that suits their family’s needs and finances in the communities they want to live. In addition, many clients avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) on their first trust mortgage loan. As a result, clients gain a more affordable first trust mortgage and can purchase a home much sooner than expected.

Read our Program Essentials Guide    Program Essentials

Why Homes by CFE?

Supportive Process

Homes by CFE works with its partners in lending and homeownership counseling to ensure borrowers know what to expect at all stages of the purchasing process. In addition, our staff works with borrowers to discuss how Homes by CFE can help them purchase a home where their families can thrive.

Knowledgeable Staff

Our team includes dedicated mortgage professionals with expertise in supporting disinvested communities. In addition, each of our NMLS-licensed loan officers is committed to serving our borrowers with patience, respect, and dignity.

Legacy in Affordable Housing

Homes by CFE and its parent organization, City First Enterprises, have a deep history and mission of expanding economic opportunity to underserved populations. Since 2010, we have helped buyers afford homes in DC neighborhoods they love. The new DPA Program is the next step in achieving equitable, thriving communities.

The Process

Complete program application

After we receive the Lender Referral Form from your first trust lender, you will receive the HBCFE program application to complete. The DPA program application collects preliminary information about you and your co-borrower, if applicable. Within 48 hours of receiving your program application, a member of the Homes by CFE team will be in touch about your eligibility and next steps in applying for down payment and closing cost assistance.

Homeowner orientation

We’ll schedule time to learn more about your needs, answer questions, and provide preliminary terms. You’ll complete a release so that we can utilize the same documents that you’re sharing with your first trust lender.

We go over the program terms to ensure you fully understand the details and how repayment works. This mandatory program orientation ensures transparency and gives borrowers the opportunity to ask any questions.

Complete the loan application

A full loan application with supporting documentation is completed with the support of a mortgage specialist.

Underwriting begins

Our mortgage professionals work closely with your first trust lender to ensure all necessary documentation is in order. A credit authorization is completed by the borrower and all income and credit information is reviewed. If qualified, your assistance amount and monthly interest-only payment are calculated to ensure they are affordable to you. A final notice of program approval and the closing cost disclosure will be provided for review and signature within three business days of closing.


Homes by CFE coordinates with your first trust lender and the title company to prepare for closing. Our team can move from approval to loan issuance within three days of receipt of all documentation, largely depending on when we receive the needed documentation. Closing will be scheduled by your first trust lender and the title company.

Are you mortgage ready?

Determine your eligibility and how to apply for assistance

Homes by CFE – Program Eligibility


City First Homes (CFH) is an Equal Opportunity Housing assistance provider and does not discriminate on the basis of handicap, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, or age. Successful applicants for Homes by CFE must meet all eligibility requirements. CFH is a Nonprofit Exempt Mission-Based 501c3 Organization.
All information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Rates, terms, programs, and underwriting policies are subject to change without notice. This is not an offer to extend credit or a commitment to lend. All down payment assistance loans are subject to underwriting approval. NMLS #1503997