West Virginia First-Time Home Buyer: 2023 Programs and Grants

December 8, 2022 - 8 min read

What to know about buying a house in West Virginia

In some ways, West Virginia first-time home buyers have a head start. Home prices are lower than the national average and have actually decreased between 2021 and 2022.

In addition, West Virginia offers home buyer education courses, special mortgages, and down payment assistance programs that can provide cash help for qualified buyers. Ready to get started?

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West Virginia home buyer overview

The median home listing price in West Virginia was $279,200 in October of 2022. That was a 2.3% decrease in real estate prices year-over-year that month, according to Redfin. Still, many first-time home buyers in West Virginia may find buying a home challenging, which is where down payment and closing cost assistance programs will come in handy.

West Virginia home buyer stats

Average Home Sale Price in WV1$279,200
Minimum Down Payment in WV (3%)$8,400
20% Down Payment in WV$55,850
Average Credit Score in WV2699
Maximum WV Home Buyer Grant3Up to $27,000 as a forgivable loan in Charleston only

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 West Virginia

If you’re a first–time home buyer in West Virginia 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 that 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 FICO score. You can usually stop paying private mortgage insurance after a few years once you reach 20% home equity
  • 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 and active-duty service members. 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
  • WVHDF loans: Qualifying first-time home buyers have access to below-market rates and 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.

WV first-time home buyer programs

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF) offers first-time buyers in the Mountain State two paths to homeownership. You can use either of these loan programs to purchase a single-family home, townhome, manufactured home, or units in approved condominiums are planned unit developments (PUD).

WVHDF Homeownership Program

The WVHDF Homeownership Program offers a range of 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages based on government-backed FHA, VA, and USDA loans as well as conventional loans. These loans are meant to offer low rates and affordable down payments for West Virginia first-time home buyers.

When we checked the mortgage rates published on the WVHDF website and compared them with those on offer generally in the state, the fund’s rates were very competitive indeed. So you might be in line for an excellent deal.

To qualify for West Virginia’s Homeownership Program, you must be at or below household income limits that vary by county and household size. Check those limits to see if you’re eligible. You must also take a home buyer education course to enter the program.

There will be other eligibility criteria, too, including a cap on home purchase prices and probably a credit score threshold. But those aren’t specified on the website. So call 1 (800) 933-8511 to get your questions answered.

WVHDF Movin’ Up Program

While not solely for first-time home buyers, the Movin’ Up Program is another 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for homeowners who “have outgrown their current residence or just want to make a change.” But first-timers are also welcome to apply.

Interest rates for the Movin’ Up Program are not as competitive as West Virginia’s other home buyer assistance program. But since it’s geared toward moderate-income households, Movin’ Up could be ideal for first-timers who do not meet WVHDF Homebuyer Program’s income limits. And, qualifying buyers can still take advantage of down payment and closing cost assistance.

WV first-time home buyer grants

Much like its home purchase assistance, WVHDF offers first-time buyers two options for down payment assistance. Each program provides help based on the size of your down payment.

WVHDF Homeownership Program DPA

The WVHDF down payment assistance program does not offer grants or forgivable loans. Instead, it provides a second mortgage, which has to be repaid over 15 years in parallel with your main mortgage. However, that second mortgage comes with a highly advantageous rate. At the time we visited the website, it was just 2%, though it may have risen by the time you read this.

Under this Homeownership program, you can borrow loan amounts up to $7,500 if your down payment is 10% or less of the home purchase price. But, if your down payment is more than 10%, you can borrow up to $10,000.

  • $7,500 for loans with loan-value-ratio greater or equal to 90% of the purchase price
  • $10,000 for loans with loan-value-ratio less than 90% of the purchase price

Again, call 1 (800) 933-8511 or (304) 391-8738 for more information.

WVHDF Movin’ Up Program DPA

Much like the down payment assistance it offers first-time home buyers, WVHDF’s Movin’ Up DPA is a 15-year second mortgage loan that compliments a Movin’ Up home loan. Qualifying borrowers can get up to $8,000 with down payments of 10% or more, or $5,000 for those with less than 10% down.

  • $5,000 for loans with loan-value-ratio greater or equal to 90% of the purchase price
  • $8,000 for loans with loan-value-ratio less than 90% of the purchase price

Contact a WVHDF-approved lender to check your eligibility for either program.

Buying a home in West Virginia’s major cities

If you’re a first-time home buyer in one of West Virginia’s three biggest cities, you may be in luck. Home prices in Charleston and Huntington are lower than the statewide average. Although home prices in Morgantown are rising sharply, they’re decreasing steadily in Charleston. This could be good news for first-timers who are eager to get on the property ladder. Furthermore, buyers in Charleston may have access to the state’s best down payment assistance program.

Charleston first-time home buyers

The median list price of homes in Charleston was $159,000 in October of 2022. That was a decrease of 11.4% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.

If you want to buy a home at that median price, your down payment options might fall between:

  • $4,800 for 3% down payment
  • $31,800 for 20% down payment

The City of Charleston has its own down payment assistance program called the Home Blend loan, and it looks more generous than the WVHDF’s offering.

The maximum loan available is $27,000 in combined down payment and closing costs assistance. But not all borrowers will qualify for that much. That loan is a silent and forgivable second mortgage. So you don’t pay any interest and don’t make monthly payments. Better yet, the loan is forgiven at the end of 10 years.

However, note a critical condition: “Clients must occupy the property during the term of this loan. If the property is sold or the occupant moves prior to the 10-year expiration the remaining loan balance will become due and payable to the City of Charleston.”

Huntington first-time home buyers

The median list price of homes in Huntington was $150,000 in October 2022. That was an increase of 11.1% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.

If you want to buy a home at that median price, your down payment options might fall between:

  • $4,500 for 3% down payment
  • $30,000 for 20% down payment

Unfortunately, we could find no trace of a down payment assistance program on the City of Huntington’s website. You can, of course, apply under the WVHDF’s program. Or talk to your Realtor or loan officer about alternative local programs.

Morgantown first-time home buyers

The median list price of homes in Morgantown was $299,000 in October 2022. That was an increase of 15% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.

If you want to buy a home at that median price, your down payment options might fall between:

  • $9,000 for 3% down payment
  • $59,800 for 20% down payment

We couldn’t find any recent mentions of down payment assistance on Morgantown’s website. You can check to see if there’s a current program by calling City Hall at (304) 284-7405. Otherwise, look to the WVHDF’s program or ask your real estate agent and loan officer about other options.

Where to find home buying help in West Virginia

In addition to our selection, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides lists of statewide, regional, and local home buyer resources in West Virginia:

Statewide and regional WV first-time home buyer programs

WV first-time home buyer programs by City/Town

What are today’s mortgage rates in West Virginia?

You can see today’s live mortgage rates in West Virginia here. Experiment with a mortgage calculator to see how down payment, interest rates, homeowners insurance, and property taxes will all affect your monthly mortgage payment.

When you’re ready to start the home buying process, make sure you get personalized rate quotes from at least three mortgage lenders. And 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.com West Virginia Housing Market Report

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

Peter Warden
Authored By: Peter Warden

The Mortgage Reports Editor

Peter Warden has been writing for a decade about mortgages, personal finance, credit cards, and insurance. His work has appeared across a wide range of media. He lives in a small town with his partner of 25 years.