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  • Writer's pictureHeather PresleyCowen

First-Time Home Buyer Grants in Illinois: What You Need to Know

Embarking on the journey to homeownership is a significant milestone, filled with anticipation, excitement, and, admittedly, a fair share of complexity. For first-time home buyers in Illinois, the financial aspect can often seem like a daunting hurdle. But what if we told you that there are numerous grants and programs specifically designed to help you overcome this challenge?

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on First-Time Home Buyer Grants in Illinois. This blog post will demystify the process, providing valuable insights into the types of grants available, who qualifies for them, how to navigate the application process, and what alternatives exist for those who might still need to meet the criteria.

Whether you're dreaming of a cozy apartment in the heart of Chicago, a suburban house in Naperville, or a countryside retreat in Galena, there's assistance available to turn your homeownership dreams into reality. So, let's dive in and explore how you can make the most of these opportunities and take your first confident step towards owning your piece of the Prairie State.

Types of Grants

Illinois offers several first-time home buyer grants, each with its unique benefits:

  1. Cook County Home Advantage Program: Catering to both first-time and repeat homebuyers, this program offers up to 5% assistance for down payment and closing costs. Beneficiaries enjoy a stable 30-year fixed rate mortgage loan.

  2. IHDAccess Forgivable: This program provides 4% of the home’s purchase price, capped at $6,000, for down payment and closing costs. The assistance isn't repaid if you keep the loan for at least 10 years.

  3. IHDAccess Deferred: Home buyers can get an interest-free loan of 5% of the purchase price, up to $7,500, to help with down payment and closing costs. The loan must be repaid when the buyer sells the home, refinances the mortgage, or finishes making payments.

  4. 1stHomeIllinois: This state program offers a $7,500 grant toward down payment and closing costs on a property in Cook, Marion, St. Clair, and Winnebago counties. It's available exclusively to first-time home buyers, defined as anyone who has yet to own a home in the past three years. Veterans and applicants buying a property in a targeted area are exempt from the first-time requirement.

  5. Down Payment Plus and Down Payment Plus Advantage: These programs, administered by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, offer up to $6,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance. Grants are forgiven over five years.

(Please note that the specifics of the above-mentioned grants may vary over time. To stay updated with the most recent grants and their details, consider downloading the Club 720 app. Our platform ensures you have access to the latest information at your fingertips.)

Who’s Eligible?

Eligibility for these grants varies, but standard requirements include:

  • Occupying the home as a primary residence.

  • Buying within purchase price limits.

  • Contributing your own money, often $1,000 or 1% of the home's price.

  • Buying in a specific geographic location.

  • Participating in home buyer classes or housing counselling.

Application Process

Applying for a home buyer grant in America involves several steps. Here's a general outline of the process:

  1. Research Available Grants: Research the various home buyer grants available in your area. These can be federal, state, or local programs. You can use resources like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website or platforms like Club 720 to find information about different grants available to you.

  2. Check Eligibility Requirements: Each grant has its own set of eligibility requirements. These may include income limits, credit score minimums, and first-time homebuyer status. Make sure you meet the criteria before applying.

  3. Attend a Homebuyer Education Course: Many grant programs require applicants to complete a course, typically virtual. These courses provide valuable information about the home-buying process and responsibilities of homeownership.

  4. Gather Necessary Documentation: You'll likely need to provide various documents when applying for a grant. These include tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, identification, and proof of current housing expenses.

  5. Apply for Pre-Approval: Before applying for a grant, you'll typically need pre-approved mortgage approval. This shows that a lender will give you a mortgage up to a certain amount based on your financial situation.

  6. Submit Grant Application: Once you've gathered all necessary documentation and received a pre-approval letter, you can submit your grant application. Be sure to fill out all forms accurately and completely.

  7. Wait for Approval: After submitting your application, there will be a waiting period for review. If approved, you'll receive information about how to access your grant funds.

  8. Close on Your Home: Once you receive the grant, you can use the funds towards your down payment or closing costs and finalize the purchase of your home.

Navigating the application process for a home buyer grant can be complex, but Club 720 is equipped to assist you at every step of the application and approval process. From helping you understand the various grants available to you to guide you through the necessary documentation and application forms, Club 720 ensures that you're well-prepared.


If you don't qualify for a first-time home buyer grant, don't worry. Other options, such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans, offer low down payment options and flexible credit requirements. Additionally, some private lenders offer mortgage products designed specifically for first-time buyers.

While buying a home for the first time can seem overwhelming, Illinois offers a variety of grants to help make homeownership a reality. By understanding the types of grants available, who qualifies, and how to apply, you can confidently navigate the process.

Remember, platforms like Club 720 and their partners across America are there to help you every step of the way. Happy house hunting!

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