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CHFA Smart Step
CHFA Smart Step

Understanding the CHFA Smart Step Mortgage Program

Understanding the CHFA Smart Step Mortgage Program

In the world of home buying, navigating mortgage options can be a daunting task. One program that stands out for its popularity and versatility is the CHFA (Colorado Housing and Finance Authority) Smart Step program. This blog post will delve into the key aspects of the Smart Step program, highlighting why it’s a preferred choice for many homebuyers.

What is the CHFA Smart Step Program?

The CHFA Smart Step program is designed to help a wide range of homebuyers with flexible income limits and less stringent documentation requirements. It’s particularly beneficial for those with higher incomes who might otherwise be excluded from other programs.

Key Benefits of the CHFA Smart Step Program

High Income Limits:
The Smart Step program boasts the highest income limits among CHFA programs. This feature alone makes it accessible to a larger pool of potential buyers.

Flexible Income Calculation:
One of the most significant advantages of the Smart Step program is its unique approach to income calculation. Unlike other programs that consider the total gross income, Smart Step only counts the qualifying income used by the lender for credit purposes. This flexibility allows higher earners to qualify without counting all household incomes.

Less Underwriting Scrutiny:
Compared to other CHFA programs, Smart Step requires less documentation, enabling faster closing times. This can be crucial in competitive housing markets where the speed of closing can make a significant difference.

Program Options Under CHFA Smart Step

The Smart Step program offers several options to cater to different needs:

No Down Payment Assistance (DPA):
This option does not provide additional down payment assistance but often comes with a discounted interest rate. It’s ideal for those who don’t need extra help with their down payment.

Plus Grant:
The Plus Grant option offers non-repayable grants of 3% of the total mortgage amount or $25,000, whichever is less. While the interest rate for this option is higher than the second mortgage option, it provides immediate financial relief without repayment obligations.

Plus Second Mortgage:
The Plus Second Mortgage, also known as a silent second mortgage, features a 0% interest rate with no payments until the home is sold or refinanced. It offers 4% of the total mortgage amount or $25,000, whichever is less, helping buyers with less money out of pocket initially.

Real-World Examples

To illustrate the benefits, consider a scenario where a couple, where one spouse makes $125,000 and the other $75,000, can qualify based on one income alone. This flexibility means their combined income won’t disqualify them from the program.

In another example, if a person’s base pay is $100,000 and their spouse’s is $62,500, but their total income with bonuses and commissions is $200,000, they can still qualify based on base pay alone. This approach allows for strategic income manipulation, making the program accessible to more buyers.


The CHFA Smart Step program stands out for its high income limits, flexible income qualification, and faster closing times. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to leverage a versatile mortgage program, Smart Step offers several beneficial options.

For those interested in learning about other CHFA programs, check out the CHFA First Generation Program video. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you might also find valuable information on the First Time Buyer Programs.

Navigating the home buying process can be complex, but understanding your mortgage options is the first step towards making an informed decision. Feel free to reach out with any questions or for more information on the CHFA Smart Step program.

Enjoy your home buying journey and happy house hunting!

Author Information

Matthew Wentz
Speak Straight Mortgage
NMLS 1852397

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