Freddie Mac BorrowSmart Down Payment Assistance Program

Freddie Mac BorrowSmartSM: Up To $2,500 In Down Payment Assistance

What Is Freddie Mac BorrowSmartSM?

BorrowSmart is a down payment assistance program from one of the nation’s largest mortgage agencies, Freddie Mac.

This program, combined with one of Freddie Mac’s 3% down payment program could mean a homebuyer would need little or nothing out of pocket to close.

The program is available to low- to moderate-income homebuyers, or anyone purchasing within a designated underserved area.

Check your homebuying eligibility.

Freddie Mac BorrowSmart Guidelines

Here’s a summary of how to qualify for BorrowSmart.

  • Earn 100% or less of the area median income where the property is located
  • Use in conjunction with Freddie Mac HomeOne® or Home Possible® program, depending on income level
  • Adequate income and employment to qualify for the loan
  • Adequate assets or additional assistance to pay for the portion of the down payment and closing costs that BorrowSmart funds do not cover
  • Primary residences only
  • First-time and repeat buyers are eligible
  • Complete a $99 homeownership counseling course, which you pay for during the application process
  • 620 or better credit score

While there are some hoops to jump through, the right applicant can get their entire down payment paid for with BorrowSmart funds, which is a rare benefit. Typically, a lender or other interested party in the transaction may not contribute toward the borrower’s down payment.

Freddie Mac BorrowSmart income limits and assistance amounts

Your available assistance depends on your income level and where you are buying. You must earn:

  • Between 80.01-100% of the area’s median income for $1,000 in assistance
  • Between 50.01-80% of the area’s median income for $1,250 in assistance
  • 50% or less of the area median income for $2,500 in assistance

An additional $7,500 in assistance is available for those meeting income limits and buying within select areas of Baltimore, Chicago, or Detroit.

How to determine your eligibility for $1,000 – $2,500 in assistance

To check your area’s median income and assistance tiers, use Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Income Limits Tool.

For best results, input an address. You can also pinpoint a neighborhood or region, but if you end up buying elsewhere, your eligibility could change.

Using the tool in this area near Fort Worth, Texas reveals that someone with up to $95,600 in income could be eligible for $1,000 in assistance. Someone with an income between $47,801 and $76,480 could qualify for $1,250. 

A buyer with income at or below $47,800 may be eligible for $2,500.

Example Borrow Smart Income Eligibility results

How to determine your eligibility for an additional $7,500 in assistance

To check an address in Baltimore, Chicago, or Detroit for additional $7,500 in assistance, use the Freddie Mac Borrow Smart Census Tract tool. Note that this is a different mapping tool than you’ll use to determine your standard assistance amount. 

In fact, this tool only returns results for areas near the three cities mentioned above. Using outside these areas will yield no results at all.

Using the tool in a neighborhood near Detroit gives you the following results. Look for “BorrowSmart Eligible Minorit Tract: Yes”. Your income must be at or below 80% of the area median to qualify for the extra assistance.

BorrowSmart Minority Census Tract Example Results

Compatible loan programs

You can’t use BorrowSmart with just any loan program. It is not compatible with FHA, VA or USDA loans. 

You can think of BorrowSmart not as its own loan program, but an add-on feature to some of Freddie Mac’s other loan offerings.

Your income level will determine which program you use

80.01%-100% of area median income: HomeOne

The Freddie Mac HomeOne loan requires just a 3% down payment. No income limits apply. At least one applicant must be a first-time homebuyer. 

The home must be a standard single-family residence or condo; manufactured homes are not allowed.

See if you’re eligible to buy a home.

80% or less of area median income: Home Possible

Home Possible is another Freddie Mac 3% down program and comes with an income limit of 80% of the area’s median. 

Single-family residences can be purchased without any of the applicant’s own funds. The entire down payment and closing cost amounts can come from BorrowSmart combined with gifts from family or other eligible assistance programs.

FreddieMac BorrowSmart Lenders

Freddie Mac has selected only a handful of lenders to test this new program. Below is a partial list of lenders who were offering it at the time of this writing.

  • Fairway Independent Mortgage
  • CMG Financial
  • Rocket Mortgage
  • Cardinal Financial
  • Welcome Home Funding


When will I receive the BorrowSmart funds?

The funds will come from the lender at closing. It will go toward reducing your down payment and closing costs.

What are the income limits for BorrowSmart?

0-50% of area median income (AMI) to receive $2,500; 50.01-80% of AMI to receive $1,250; 80.01%-100% of AMI to receive $1,000. Above 100% of AMI is not eligible. 

Can I receive $10,000 in BorrowSmart assistance?

Buyers who earn 50% or less of their area median income and buy in an “eligible minority tract” within Baltimore, Chicago, or Detroit, as designated by Freddie Mac, can receive both the $2,500 standard assistance and $7,500 in additional assistance for a total of $10,000.

In what locations is BorrowSmart available?

Standard down payment assistance (up to $2,500) is available in all 50 states. Up to $10,000 in assistance is available in select areas of Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit.

Get a head start with Freddie Mac BorrowSmart

This program is a rare opportunity to get down payment assistance from your lender. 

For low- and moderate-income households, this assistance program could offer homeownership that is finally attainable.

See if you can buy a home.


  • Tim Lucas

    Tim Lucas spent 11 years in the mortgage industry helping everyone from first-time buyers to experienced investors. He purchased his first home at 26 with just $1,100 out-of-pocket and now owns real estate worth $2.4 million. Tim was the managing editor at national websites and and has been featured in publications such as Time, U.S. News, MSN, and more. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok.

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