Surveys show that first-time buyers aren’t aware of how much they need to save for a down payment. Many people believe that buying a home requires they put down at least 20 percent of the purchase price, but down payments aren’t as big of an obstacle as people think. For example, a loan through the Federal Housing Administration could require a down payment as low as 3.5 percent; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have similarly low requirements.

If you qualify for a loan with a low down payment but still have trouble coming up with the cash, here are a few of the many programs out there that can help. Do some research to find out what’s available in your area.

1. Help getting down
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives community development block grants to states and local governments across the country to help revitalize certain areas. HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) is one such program. States often have their own programs for down payment assistance, too.

2. Opening up options for closing
The Federal National Mortgage Association, a.k.a. Fannie Mae, designed the HomePath Ready Buyer program to attract new homebuyers to the market. Through the program, qualifying first-time homebuyers can get assistance of up to 3 percent of closing costs after they pass an online homeownership course.

3. Making ownership less taxing
Some state governments provide first-time buyers with a tax credit to boost homeownership.

4. Helping heroes
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loan Guaranty Service helps veterans or surviving spouses obtain better terms for their mortgage by guaranteeing a portion of the loan. Some VA mortgages require no down payment.

Check the National Council of State Housing Agencies for more opportunities available in your state.

A buyer’s agent will be able to help you find the programs that operate in your area and are appropriate to your financial situation. A great agent is easy to find here.