This section describes NIFA's eligibility requirements to qualify for one of our loan programs. You can trust NIFA to help you get a great home loan!
At NIFA, we define a first-time homebuyer as someone who has not owned and lived in a home as their primary residence within the past 3 years (3-year rule). Even if you owned a home years ago, but have been renting for 3 or more years, you are still considered a first-time homebuyer.
The 3-year rule does not apply when (1) You are a Qualified Veteran who has been discharged from the service under conditions other than dishonorable or (2) You purchase a home located in a target area.
There are some situations when NIFA may grant an exception to the 3-year rule: (1) If you lost a home by divorce and received no sale proceeds, (2) If you lost a home by natural disaster, or (3) If you lost a home by a forced job relocation. If one of these situations apply, your Participating Lender will submit documentation to our office for review during the loan application process.
All NIFA programs have maximum household income limits based on the location of the home and household size. NIFA will include all gross income sources (before taxes) for individuals 18 years or older who will live in the home as their primary residence. This includes, but is not limited to, base pay, overtime, commissions, bonuses, tips, self-employed income, social security, disability, unemployment, child support, alimony, part-time income and interest income from assets in excess of $5,000.
NIFA will use your current monthly household gross income and will project it over a 12-month period. Please note this calculation method is only used by NIFA to determine NIFA's program eligibility. In most cases, your Participating Lender will use a more conservative underwriting approach for income to qualify you for the loan.
Are you eligible for a NIFA loan? To check your household income eligibility, click here. Maximum household income limits are subject to change from time to time.
Homes located in Nebraska are eligible subject to the following purchase price limits:
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You must occupy the home as your primary residence within 60 days of loan closing. For 2-4 units, NIFA will include net rental income in your total household income. 2-4 units must be at least 5 years old unless the unit is a duplex located in a target area. If you are buying a home from a relative, the greater of the purchase price or appraised value cannot exceed the maximum limit.
In addition to NIFA's program eligibility requirements, credit underwriting guidelines apply. Credit underwriting guidelines include minimum credit scores and maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. They differ depending on the type of loan.
Conventional Loans - The minimum credit score requirement is 640 with a maximum total DTI ratio of 45%. If your credit score is 660 and above, NIFA will allow a maximum total DTI of 50%. If your Participating Lender needs to use manual underwriting guidelines to approve the loan, the minimum credit score requirement is 660 with a maximum housing expense ratio of 31% and a maximum total DTI ratio of 43%. If you do not have a credit score, you may still qualify for a loan subject to a maximum housing expense ratio of 31% and a maximum total DTI ratio of 43%.
Government Loans - The minimum credit score requirement for government and conventional loans is 640 with a maximum total debt to income ratio of 45%. If your credit score is 660 and above, NIFA will allow a maximum total debt to income ratio of 50%. If your Participating Lender needs to use manual underwriting guidelines to approve the loan, the minimum credit score requirement is 660 with a maximum housing expense ratio of 31% and a maximum total DTI ratio of 43%. If you do not have a credit score, you may still qualify for a loan subject to a maximum housing expense ratio of 31% and a maximum total DTI ratio of 43%.
A credit score is used by Participating Lenders to determine the creditworthiness of a borrower. The DTI ratio is calculated by taking your total monthly expenses and dividing them by your total monthly gross income.
A Participating Lender will help you determine if you meet all of NIFA's program eligibility and credit underwriting guidelines.
NIFA requires all occupying borrowers who are responsible for repaying the loan to complete an approved homebuyer education class prior to closing. Knowledge is power! We highly recommend you complete an education class before you begin the home shopping process. You will gain valuable knowledge on the loan process, terminology, budgeting, tips for selecting a real estate agent, home inspections, home maintenance and much more.
NIFA allows face-to-face education and online education. We partner with a network of non-profit organizations called REACH Affiliates who provide face-to-face education and other housing resources. To find a REACH Affiliate near you, visit the Nebraska Housing Developers Association website or call 888-879-3403. Click here for a list of approved online classes.
You can call NIFA's toll-free number at 800-204-6432 to speak with one of our Homeownership Team Specialists (Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT) or contact us by email.