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Home Loan Options for First Responders and Military Members

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

Military service member buying a home with family

Buying a home can be challenging especially when you're busy working as a first responder or military service member. Yet, working with a real estate agent who understands your unique needs can take the stress out of home buying and help you enjoy your home buying experience.

Our real estate team is built around first responders including police officers, police spouses, firefighters, and E.M.T.s. So naturally, we specialize in helping first responders and other hometown heroes buy and sell homes.

One of the first steps when buying a home is to choose the right kind of home loan to help make the purchase.

Loan Options for First Responders and Military Members

Ohio Housing Finance Agency's (OHFA) Ohio Heroes

The Ohio Heroes program rewards Ohio residents who serve the public with a discounted mortgage interest rate.

If you apply for the Ohio Heroes program, you are applying for a VA, FHA, or conventional mortgage through the OHFA. But the benefit is that you will have a greatly discounted mortgage interest rate (exact rates vary by county).

You can also choose to have the state pay the down payment for you. This down payment is “forgiven” after seven years, meaning that as long as you continue to make payments and live in the house you won’t have to pay back the down payment.

This can save you thousands of dollars on your payments on a mortgage, making the Ohio Heroes program one of the best Ohio home loans for first responders in the state.

You may qualify for an OHFA home buyer program if you meet the criteria listed below:

  • You meet income and purchase price limits.

  • You meet debt to income ratios for your loan type.

  • You meet the credit score requirements.

  • You work in one of the following careers:

    • Veterans, active-duty military members or members of reserve components (including surviving spouses)

    • Police officers, firefighters, volunteer firefighters, EMTs and paramedics

    • Physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses (RN and LPN) and STNAs

    • Teachers (pre-K through grade 12), administrators, and counselors

For more information speak with one of our real estate agents or visit

VA Home Loans in Ohio

A VA loan is a type of government loan backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It offers many benefits to service members and veterans, including:

  • Lower interest rates,

  • No down payment requirement,

  • No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is required,

  • VA financing fees can be “rolled” into the loan,

  • More lenient credit score requirements and,

  • Additional benefits for disabled veterans.

The VA loan has been around since 1944 and has helped over 5 million veterans buy homes. VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. The VA home loan guaranty is an agreement that the VA will reimburse a private lender (such as banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, etc.) in the event of loss due to foreclosure.

This program also offers other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, keep, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.

Those eligible for a VA home loan include active-duty service members and Veterans with discharges other than dishonorable, National Guard and Reserve service members and Veterans with an honorable discharge, and certain eligible spouses. Other uniformed service personnel may be eligible for VA home loan guaranty benefits.

For more information speak with one of our qualified real estate agents or visit the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website.

USDA Home Loans

For police officers and first responders looking to buy a home in a more rural area, consider a USDA home loan. These loans do not actually have anything to do with agriculture, but rather with the development of rural areas.

The USDA designates a rural area as somewhere with 35,000 residents or less. Because of the generous population stipulation, much of Ohio actually falls into this category, including suburbs.

Applicants must:

  • Meet income-eligibility (cannot exceed 115% of median household income),

  • Agree to occupy the dwelling as their primary home,

  • Be unable to obtain conventional financing with no private mortgage insurance (PMI), and

  • Be a U.S. Citizen, U.S. non-citizen national or Qualified non-citizen.

Eligible applicants may purchase, build, rehabilitate, improve or relocate a dwelling in an eligible rural area with 100% financing.

For more information visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


There is a new bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives, called the HELPER Act (or Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator, and Responder). This bill aims to help teachers and first responders who kept things going during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill is in its early stages, but if it passes, this loan program would create a one-time home loan program under the Federal Housing Administration. It would allow eligible borrowers to get a mortgage without needing to fund a down payment or pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Those eligible for the new loan program would include:

  • Teachers at public and private schools

  • Police officers

  • Firefighters

  • Paramedics

  • EMTs

  • Prison guards

To qualify for the loan program, borrowers must have worked in these professions for at least four years. They must also prove they're in good standing with employers, and they intend to stay in the same type of job for at least another year.

The proposed legislation is still making its way through Congress, and you can check on its progress here: HELPER Act of 2021.

Choosing the Best Home Loan

Buying a home can be challenging when you're busy working as a first responder or military service member. Yet, working with a real estate agent who understands your unique needs can take the stress out of home buying and help you enjoy your home buying experience.

At The Good Guy Group, we take great pride in providing personalized real estate services to home buyers and sellers in the Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Mansfield areas. Send us a message so we can answer any questions you may have and chat about your home needs.

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