Homebuyer FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about homebuying and homeownership. If you do not see your question below, or if you would like additional information, please contact Antonia Finley, Homebuyer Coordinator, at 617/349-4643 or afinley@cambridgema.gov.

How can I take a First-Time Homebuyer Class?

The City of Cambridge offers a CHAPA-certified First Time Homebuyer Class ten times each year. The class meets for four two-hour sessions. In order to receive a certificate, registrants must attend all four sessions. For more information, go to the Home Buyer Education.

I would like to buy a home, but I'm not sure what to do. How do I get started?

If you are new to the homebuying process, a great first step is to take a First Time Homebuyer class. These classes provide an overview of the homebuying process and provide an opportunity to ask questions of experienced real estate professionals.

How much does the class cost?

The class is free to everyone. Registration is limited and you must be registered to attend.

I need to take the class but this class does not fit my schedule. What are my options?

First Time Homebuyer classes are offered by many communities throughout the state. Some are one-day workshops, others are multi-session classes. To find other classes in other communities, please consult CHAPA.

What banks should I use to apply for a mortgage?

The City of Cambridge does not recommend any specific mortgage lender. If you are a first-time homebuyer you may be interested using the SoftSecond program. This program is available at many banks with experience in working with first-time homebuyers.

I am buying a unit on the open market. Does the City offer downpayment assistance?

Downpayment assistance is available to all income-eligible buyers purchasing both affordable and market-rate units. The income limit to qualify is currently 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) as defined by HUD. Please click here for current income limits. The City can provide up to $10,000 to eligible applicants. For more information, go to City Financial Assistance.

How can I determine the best mortgage product for my needs?

There are many mortgage options available to buyers. First-time buyers may qualify for mortgage products with reduced rates, no private mortgage insurance, and other benefits. Ask a mortgage representative if you qualify for these programs. For all mortgage products, it is important to look at more than the rate at closing. Closing costs and mortgage insurance can increase monthly costs. Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, have interest rates that "reset" at certain intervals and can increase monthly payments. Make sure you understand all aspects of a mortgage product so you can choose one that is affordable and sustainable for your household.

What should I expect to pay in closing costs?

There is no set amount of closing costs. When shopping for a mortgage, it is important to ask what the typical closing costs are. Closing costs can include things such as legal fees; title and recording charges; appraisal fees; and bank fees. Mortgage lenders are the most accurate source for closing cost estimates.

Do I need a buyer’s broker?

The role of a buyer's broker is to represent your interests in the home selection process. Using a buyer's broker is not required. To learn more about working with a real estate agent, go to www.massbuyeragents.com.

I would like to buy a home in Cambridge, but I think I cannot afford it. What are my options?

The Housing Division has several options for income-qualified applicants looking to buy a home in Cambridge. To learn more about the different affordable homeownership programs, visit the For Applicants page.