Homes by CFE - Program Guide

The Problem

Saving enough money to afford a sufficient down payment and cover closing costs is a persistent barrier to homeownership. Prospective buyers need either extensive savings or access to affordable financial assistance to become homeowners in high-cost markets like Washington, D.C. The majority of Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latinx communities are largely priced out of the market.

The Solution

Through Homes by CFE, eligible buyers receive down payment assistance of up to 20% of the property’s purchase price, for a maximum of $100,000. Buyers under 100% Median Family Income (MFI), may receive additional closing cost assistance, up to $10,000.

How it Works

We partner with first trust mortgage lenders to issue a second trust mortgage for down payment assistance. The interest rate is set at the rate of the first trust mortgage plus 1%. Program participants make interest-only payments for 30 years or until the property is sold, refinanced or the note matures, at which time the balance of the down payment and closing cost assistance is repaid in full.

Buyers can choose a home that suits their family’s needs and finances in the communities they want to live. In addition, clients avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) on their first trust mortgage loan, resulting in household savings each month. As a result, clients gain a more affordable first trust mortgage and can purchase a home much sooner than expected.

Read the Program Guide for additional information about the program       View the Guide

Why Homes by CFE?

Supportive Process

City First Homes works with its partners in lending and homeownership counseling to ensure our borrowers know what to expect at all stages of the home buying process. In addition, our staff works with our borrowers to discuss how Homes by CFE can help them purchase a home where their families can thrive.

Knowledgeable Staff

Our team includes dedicated mortgage professionals with expertise in serving marginalized communities. In addition, each of our NMLS-licensed loan officers is committed to serving our borrowers with patience, respect, and dignity.

Legacy in Affordable Housing

City First Homes and its family of organizations, including City First Enterprises and City First Broadway, have a deep history and mission in expanding economic equity and opportunity to historically underserved populations. Since 2010, City First Homes has helped buyers in the District afford homes in neighborhoods they love. Homes by CFE is the next step in achieving our mission of equitable, thriving communities.

The Process

Complete program application

The Homes by CFE program application collects preliminary information about you and your co-borrower (if applicable). Within 48 hours of receiving your program application, a member of the Homes by CFE team will be in touch about your eligibility and next steps in applying for down payment and closing cost assistance.

Speak with a mortgage specialist

We’ll schedule time to learn more about your needs, answer questions, and provide preliminary terms. You’ll complete a release so that we can utilize the same documents that you’re sharing with your first trust lender.

Complete the Loan Application

A full loan application with supporting documentation is completed with the support of a mortgage specialist.

Underwriting begins

Our mortgage professionals work closely with your first trust lender to ensure all necessary documentation is in order. A credit authorization is completed by the borrower and all income and credit information is reviewed. If qualified, your assistance amount and monthly interest-only payment are calculated to ensure they are affordable to you. A final notice of program approval and the closing cost disclosure will be provided for review and signature within 3 business days of closing for your review.

Homeowner Orientation

We go over the program terms and closing documents together to ensure you fully understand the loan terms and how repayment works. This mandatory program orientation ensures transparency and gives borrowers the opportunity to ask any final questions.


We coordinate with your first trust lender and the title company to prepare your mortgage for closing. Our team can move from approval to loan issuance within three days of receipt of all documentation, largely depending on when we receive the needed documentation. Closing will be scheduled by your first trust lender and the title company.

Are you mortgage ready?

Determine your eligibility and apply for assistance

Homes by CFE – Program Eligibility


City First Homes (CFH) is an Equal Opportunity Housing assistance provider and does not discriminate on the basis of handicap, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, or age. Successful applicants for Homes by CFE must meet all eligibility requirements. CFH is a Nonprofit Exempt Mission-Based 501c3 Organization.
All information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Rates, terms, programs, and underwriting policies are subject to change without notice. This is not an offer to extend credit or a commitment to lend. All down payment assistance loans are subject to underwriting approval. NMLS #1503997