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    If you’re a first responder or teacher hoping to buy a home, then you may be in luck. Just last month, four House representatives introduced a bill that would create a low-cost, no-down-payment mortgage program specifically for buyers in these categories.

    Dubbed the HELPER Act (Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator, and Responder), the bill aims to launch a new mortgage option based on the VA loan program. This one, however, would be open to K-12 teachers, firefighters, police officers, Emergency Medical Technicians, and paramedics.

    “The ongoing pandemic has put a long overdue spotlight on some of America’s most important unsung heroes,” said Rep. John Katko (R, NY-24), one of the authors of the bill. “From teachers, to police officers, to paramedics, EMTs, and firefighters, we saw these professionals faithfully support our nation during the pandemic, and at times put their own lives at risk to uphold their duties. Unfortunately, these heroes, who make great sacrifices for our communities, often are unable to find affordable housing in the communities they serve.”

    The bill was officially introduced in the House on May 13, and it’s currently headed to the House Committee on Financial Services. Though it’s not official legislature just yet, here’s what the program — at least in its current form — would offer America’s first responders and educators.

    The HELPER Act for first responder and teacher homebuyers

    There are two huge benefits that could come with the mortgage program outlined in the HELPER Act. First, like VA and USDA loans, this one would require no down payment at all.

    To understand just how huge that is, take the current median home price, for example. According to NAR, that sits at just over $341,000. On a conventional mortgage, the smallest down payment you might make on a median-priced home is just over $10,000. With an FHA loan, it’s nearly $12,000.

    Aside from that five-digit savings upfront, HELPER Act borrowers would pay no monthly mortgage insurance either. There would be a mortgage insurance premium paid at closing, though. This would amount to 3.6% of the loan amount and would be used to “ensure the solvency of the program.” 

    To be clear: Upfront mortgage premiums can often be rolled into the loan amount (they are in VA and USDA loans). Though this option hasn’t been mentioned in the bill as of yet, it’s likely HELPER borrowers will be able to finance their upfront fees as well.

    Buying a home when you’re a teacher or first responder

    If you’re one of the millions of first responder or teacher homebuyers, you may soon have a new option.

    Can’t wait and want to learn about types of loans and programs that may be available to you today? Get in touch with an Embrace Home Loans office in your area.

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