Nevada First-Time Home Buyer: 2022 Programs and Grants

Peter Warden
Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports Editor
June 17, 2022 - 8 min read

What to know about buying a house in Nevada

Average home prices and home price inflation are higher than average in Nevada. That can feel like a challenge for new home buyers.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of support for first-time buyers in the Silver State. Eligible borrowers can get free counseling and even cash assistance with their down payment and closing costs. Here’s what you should know.


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Nevada home buyer overview

According to Redfin data, the median list price in Nevada was $465,300 in May 2022. That was a 24.6% increase year over year, which means the Silver State is outpacing the growth rate for nationwide home purchase prices (20.9%).

Nevada home buyer stats

Average Home Sale Price in NV1$465,300
Minimum Down Payment in NV (3%)$13,960
20% Down Payment in NV$93,060
Average Credit Score in NV2701
Maximum State Home Buyer Down Payment Assistance NV3Up to $25,000 as a forgivable loan available in designated rural areas statewide

Down payment amounts are based on the state's most recently available average home sale price. “Minimum” down payment assumes 3% down on a conventional mortgage with a minimum credit score of 620.

If you're eligible for a VA loan (backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs) or a USDA loan (backed by the US Department of Agriculture), you may not need any down payment at all.

First-time home buyer loans in Nevada

If you’re a first-time home buyer in Nevada with a 20% down payment, you can get a conventional loan with a low interest rate. And you never have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Of course, few first-time buyers have saved enough for 20% down. But the good news is, you don’t need that much. Not by a long shot.

Borrowers can often get into a new home with as little as 3% or even 0% down using one of these low-down-payment mortgage programs:

  • Conventional 97: From Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. 3% down payment and 620 minimum credit score. You can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few years
  • FHA loan: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration. 3.5% down and a 580 minimum credit score. But you’re on the hook for mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) until you refinance to a different type of mortgage, move, or pay off your loan
  • VA loan: Only for veterans, active military members, reservists, and National Guard. Zero down payment is required. Minimum credit score varies by lender but often 620. No ongoing mortgage insurance after closing. These are arguably the best mortgages available, so apply if you’re eligible
  • USDA loan: For those on low-to-moderate incomes buying in designated rural areas. Zero down payment required. Credit score requirements vary by lender but often 640. Low mortgage insurance rates
  • Nevada Housing Division: May include competitive mortgage interest rates and can be used with down payment assistance. More information below

Note that government loan programs (including FHA, VA, and USDA home loans) require you to buy a primary residence. That means you can’t use these loans for a vacation home or investment property.

In addition, most programs let you use gifted money or down payment assistance (DPA) to cover your down payment and closing costs. Depending on the mortgage loan you choose, you could potentially get into your new house with minimal cash out of pocket.

If you’re unsure which program to choose for your first mortgage, your lender can help you find the right match based on your finances and home buying goals.

Nevada first-time home buyer programs

The State of Nevada Housing Division’s “Home Is Possible” program offers a 30-year mortgage with an option for down payment and closing cost assistance of up to 5% of the loan amount. This homebuyer assistance is available to Nevadans across the state.

You’ll need a minimum credit score of 640 or 660 depending on the loan program you choose. And you must complete a home buyer education course to qualify.

The Home Is Possible website explains: “If your family’s annual income is $105,000 or less, and the home you want to buy costs less than $, you’re in the ballpark for Home Is Possible bonus down payment money.” Household income limits can sometimes be up to $135,000 if there are two or more borrowers.

  • The down payment assistance offered can be between 2% and 5% of the value of your mortgage loan. So it’s well worth having
  • This DPA takes the form of a forgivable second mortgage. So the interest rate is 0% and you don’t have to make monthly payments. Better yet, providing you stick to the rules, your debt will be forgiven after three years

Specialty homeownership programs for Nevadans

The Home Is Possible program also offers special loans for veterans and active military personnel and K-12 teachers which can offer below-market interest rates to qualified borrowers.

  • Home Is Possible for Teachers: Below-market interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate loan for K-12 public school teachers in Nevada. Plus, $7,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance. No first-home requirement, but borrowers cannot own real estate at time of closing. Purchase price and median income limits apply. Minimum credit score of 660 for FHA loans and 640 for VA and USDA loans. Conventional loans not permitted
  • Home Is Possible for Heroes: Below-market interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate loan for active duty service members and veterans. There is no first-home requirement, but borrowers must meet NHD income limits, which vary by household size and county. Home purchase price must not exceed $647,200. Credit score minimum of 640. USDA and VA loans only. No other loan types are permitted

Both of these loan programs require a one-time fee paid at closing and successful completion of a home buyer education course.

The details and eligibility requirements of all the programs can be quite complicated. But, if you call one of NHD’s approved lenders, a loan officer will walk you through the whole thing and tell you whether you’re eligible.

Not sure which type of mortgage is best for you? You can choose to use one of the NHD’s 80+ approved mortgage lenders within the state. Naturally, you’ll have to meet credit score minimums and other lending criteria that lenders use when approving mortgage applications.

Nevada first-time home buyer grants

In addition to the Nevada Housing Division’s DPA offering, the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA) runs its Home At Last program. This provides up to $25,000 in assistance for eligible borrowers wanting to buy in officially designated rural parts of the state. Again, you’ll have to choose a participating lender.

This, too, can be a three-year forgivable loan with 0% interest and no monthly payments. And, as long as you don’t break the rules during those first three years, this second mortgage will be completely forgiven.

You may also be able to get a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) with this loan, which might save you money on your federal taxes. But speak to an adviser to see if a tax credit will help you.

The Home At Last program also offers refinancing to eligible homeowners.

But, whatever NHD and NRHA are offering, don’t automatically choose either of them. First, check out any down payment assistance programs that are offered by the city or county where you wish to buy. Then choose the one that suits you best.

Buying a home in Nevada’s major cities

Home prices shot up in all three of Nevada’s largest cities during the 12 months ending in April 2022. But they exploded in Reno, where home price inflation was an eye watering 33% during that period.

Las Vegas first-time home buyers

The median list price in Las Vegas was $430,000 in April 2022, according to Realtor.com. That was up 26.5% year over year.

At that median price, your down payment options might fall between:

  • $12,900 for 3% down payment
  • $86,000 for 20% down payment

The City of North Las Vegas has offered a down payment assistance program in the past. Details were not available at the time of this writing but check with the agency at the time you apply to learn whether there’s help available in your area.

Henderson first-time home buyers

The median list price in Henderson was $500,000 in April 2022, according to Realtor.com. That was up 25% year over year.

At that median price, your down payment options might fall between:

  • $13,500 for 3% down payment
  • $90,000 for 20% down payment

According to its website, “The City of Henderson does not currently administer a First-Time Homebuyer Program or a Housing Rehabilitation Program.” So you may have to rely on statewide programs. But you can also try calling (702) 267-2021 to see if that policy has changed since this was written.

Reno first-time home buyers

The median list price in Reno was $624,900 in April 2022, according to Realtor.com. That was up a staggering 33% year over year.

At that median price, your down payment options might fall between:

  • $18,750 for 3% down payment
  • $124,980 for 20% down payment

There are plenty of pages on the City of Reno’s website about down payment assistance (DPA), including the Washoe County HOME Consortium, which covered Reno, Sparks, and the rest of the county.

But all those seem to relate to historical programs. And if there’s information about any live DPA programs in the city or county, it was too well hidden for us to find.

So, just like in Henderson, you may have to use statewide programs. But, by all means, call (775) 334-3853 to see if Reno has its own DPA.

Where to find home buying help in Nevada

All the organizations we’ve listed above should provide advice freely to any first-time home buyer in Nevada or their local area.

In addition to our selection, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a few lists for statewide and regional resources:

Statewide and regional first-time home buyer resources in Nevada

You can find additional resources and assistance programs by city and county on HUD’s webpage for Nevada first-time home buyers.

What are today’s mortgage rates in Nevada?

You can see today’s live mortgage rates in Nevada here.

When you’re ready to start the home buying process, make sure you get personalized rate quotes from at least three mortgage lenders.

Don’t just look at advertised rates online; actually apply for preapproval and compare the interest rates and fees you’re offered. That’s the only way to know you’re getting the best deal possible on your new home loan.


1Source: Redfin Nevada Housing Market Overview

2Source: Experian.com study of 2021 and 2020 data

3Based on a review of the state's available DPA grants at the time this was written

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