For first-time buyers, often the first thought that comes to mind is, “I need a down payment.” This is often followed by the question, “Now, where do I get that down payment?”

Depending upon the loan type, a home mortgage typically requires 3 to 5 percent down. If you have the money, then you’re set. But what if you don’t?  What if you’re renting? You can afford a mortgage within your means, but coming up with the down payment money needed to begin the transaction can be challenging. So, where can you turn?

One of the most overlooked sources of down payment funds is likely right under your nose—in the form of government bonds and local grant programs.

These programs either provide outright monetary grants for down payment or money to buyers in the form of a forgivable loan. In essence, the government will help you buy your home and you typically only have to pay back the money if and when you sell that same property.

In the past it was challenging to find these special programs, but now all you need is your agent, a computer, an Internet connection, and a search portal such as Google or Yahoo.  Enter the search terms “down payment assistance (followed by your city, state or province)” and see what pops up! It might just be the answer to helping you buy your first home.