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7 Unusual Ways to Afford Buying a House in Wisconsin

Looking for ways to make buying a home more affordable in 2024? This article has several unique ways you can purchase a new home for less money.

For example, did you know there is a mortgage discount available for teachers, nurses, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, EMTs, and first responders? It’s called the Hero Discount!

Or did you know there are grants for up to $10,000 available for first-time home buyers in Jefferson County, Wisconsin that don’t need to be repaid?

Read on to find out which home mortgage programs you could take advantage of when you purchase a new home.

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1. *NEW* Hero Discount

Johnson Bank is currently offering the Hero Discount, which is a mortgage discount for:

  • PreK – 12 Teachers
  • Registered Nurses
  • Firefighters
  • Paramedics
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Law Enforcement Officers
  • First Responders

This is one of our favorite home buyer programs because it’s especially for the heroes of our communities, who are often modestly paid for their essential work. Qualifying individuals can receive a discounted rate for any loan program through Johnson Bank.

Which teachers qualify?

State-accredited, public or private school teachers, school nurses, school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers.

Learn More About The Hero Discount

A great contact person to learn more about this home buyer program is Diane Rue.

  • Phone: (920) 568-5641
  • Email:

Related Post: Do you know someone who shines in their community? Nominate them for our quarterly We Think You Shine Award!

2. *EXCLUSIVE* Professionals Program

Another unique home buyer program we’re excited to share with you is the Professionals Program.

This is a financing program available for:

  • Residents
  • Fellows
  • Physicians Assistants
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurse Anesthetists
  • Anesthesiology Assistants
  • Veterinarians
  • Optometrists
  • Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
  • Attorneys
  • Physical Therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Chiropractors

The Professionals Program is also offered by Johnson Bank. If you are in one of the career fields listed above, you can qualify for a zero down payment loan with fixed-rate terms. There are no mortgage insurance requirements and you can close your loan with the lowest rate possible with the Rate Reduction Option.

Learn More about the Professionals Program

Contact Diane Rue from Johnson Bank to learn more about this unique home buyer program.

  • Phone: (920) 568-5641
  • Email:

3. First-Time Homebuyers Grants

Johnson Bank also has two unique grants for first-time homebuyers* that can be used toward your down payment and closing costs. These are great options to explore because grants do not have to be repaid!

  • The Borrow Smart Grant can save you up to $2,500 or a minimum of $1,250
  • The Johnson Bank Grant can save you up to $2,500.

Is this only for first-time homebuyers?

*A “first-time homebuyer” would be someone who has not owned a home in the past 3 years. If you owned a home 3.5 years ago, you would be eligible for the benefits of a first-time home buyer.

Is there an income limit for these homebuyer grants?

For Jefferson County, those with an income of $77,360 or less could qualify for these two grants.

Learn More about Johnson Bank’s Grants for First-Time Home Buyers

If you are outside of Jefferson County, ask Diane Rue what the income limits are for your county. If there is any way you can qualify for a grant or get a better mortgage rate, she will find it!

  • Phone: (920) 568-5641
  • Email:

Related Post: Curious about the process of buying your first house? Download our free guide to Home Buying.

4. Jefferson County Home Buyer Assistance Program

Jefferson County, Wisconsin has two unique programs that provide home buyer grants toward the purchase of a home anywhere in Jefferson County. They’re called the Down Payment Plus Program and the HOME Consortium Down Payment Assistance Program.

If you qualify, you could save thousands of dollars on your home purchase. These funds can be used toward your:

  • down payment
  • customary closing costs
  • prepaid items
  • reserves
  • home buyer counseling

To be eligible, you must participate in homebuyer education, use a participating lender, and there are some income guidelines, purchase limits, and other stipulations as well.

Learn More about Jefferson County’s Home Buyer Grants

Click here to learn more about this program. The contact person is RoxAnne Witte.

  • Phone: (920) 674-8711
  • Email:

5. New Construction Builder Incentives

Another unique way to pay less for a new home this year is to have your realtor ask builders if they are offering any new construction incentives.

We’ve heard of some new construction builders offering things like several months without payment after closing.

Learn More about New Construction Incentives

To learn more about new construction builder incentives, call or email RE/MAX Shine to see if we can help you negotiate with a builder in your area.

Related Post: Building has gotten more affordable. Check out the cost to build a new house in Wisconsin to see if building a house could be the right option for you.

6. Closing Cost Credits

Closing cost credits are another way to reduce the total amount of money needed to buy a home. Closing costs are the fees you pay when finalizing a real estate transaction.

Closing costs are to pay for things like:

  • Recording the deed
  • Applying for a mortgage
  • Appraising the property’s value
  • Originating and underwriting the loan
  • Searching property records to ensure a clean title

In some situations, buyers may negotiate for sellers to pay some of the buyer’s closing costs. This was added as an unusual method because it has not really been an option for the last two years because the real estate market was so competitive. With the market normalizing, however, home buyers have a little more negotiating leverage again.

Learn More about Closing Cost Credits

To learn more about if you can negotiate closing cost credits, ask your trusted local realtor who knows the market when the time comes to write an offer.

Related Post: Is Your Realtor Good? How to Evaluate Real Estate Agents

7. Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (Hear Us Out!)

With the increased mortgage rates, more home buyers are using Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs) to afford homeownership. Monthly payments with an ARM can be significantly lower than a fixed-rate mortgage due to a lower mortgage interest rate.

The numbers tell us the average American moves their household every 5-7 years, so maybe getting a lower rate for several years isn’t such a bad idea.

  • You may get a new job and need to relocate
  • Your family may grow and you need more space
  • Your commute may get old, so you move closer
  • Your kids get older and move out, so you may want to downsize
  • You may make improvements and refinance for greater equity
  • You may get sick of Wisconsin winters and move south 😉❄️

There are many situations where an adjustable-rate mortgage could be the best financial option.

Learn More about Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

The Adjustable-Rate Mortgages of 2024 are not the same product as the ARMS of the early 2000s, so talk to a trustworthy lender who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to financing options.

☀️ These are the Wisconsin mortgage lenders we use and recommend.

8. *BONUS* Improve Your Credit Score

*Bonus tip if you can’t get approved for a loan yet*

Your credit score directly affects your mortgage rate, so improving your credit score can help you afford your dream home (or first home). Here’s an article from Forbes that explains the impact.

Building your credit score and getting a mortgage to purchase a home may help you achieve your dream of owning a home years–even decades–faster than if you were to save cash.

If you don’t have any credit built up yet because you’re young or you’ve followed Dave Ramsey’s advice to never use a credit card, there is a simple way you can improve your credit without going into massive debt.

Charging something (even $5) to a credit card each month will help you build a credit score, even if you pay off the total balance each month. This shows you’re able to borrow money and pay it back.

Financial gurus like Dave Ramsey are wise in many ways. But the reality is building your credit score and using a mortgage to purchase a home can help you achieve your dream of homeownership years–even decades– faster than if you were to save up to purchase a home with cash.

Tip: Some RE/MAX Shine real estate agents have years of experience with financing at banks and credit unions. So if financing is a hurdle for you, we can talk through the process or connect you with a great lender willing to show you the achievable path to home ownership.

Summary of Unique Ways to Save Money When Buying a House

There are many unique home buyer programs Wisconsin buyers can utilize from banks, new construction companies, and during negotiations to make buying a home more affordable this year, such as:

  1. Hero Discount
  2. Professionals Program
  3. First-Time Homebuyer Grants
  4. Jefferson County Home Buyer Assistance Programs
  5. New Construction Builder Incentives
  6. Closing Cost Credits
  7. Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

If you learned something or found this list helpful, please share it on social media. You never know who’s in the process of looking for a new house and this could save them thousands of dollars!

Let’s Work Together

If you’d like one of our professional realtors to guide you through the process of buying a new home, we’d be happy to help!

You can call or text (920) 674-9821, visit our office at 101 N. Main St. Jefferson, WI, or fill out the form below.

Save This List of Unique Home Buyer Discounts for Later

And be sure to share this with anyone you know who may qualify for one of these unique homebuyer programs!


Disclaimer: We are not mortgage experts. We hope this helped you learn about unique mortgage programs, but you should speak to a mortgage officer to talk through your situation and see if you qualify for any of these programs.

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