WASHINGTON — Some first-time home buyers will get a break on their down payments through programs announced Monday by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the firms try to jump-start the housing market by making it easier for more borrowers to qualify for a mortgage.

Fannie and Freddie will soon allow for mortgages with a down payment as low as 3 percent of the purchase price – instead of the 5 percent currently required – as long as one of the borrowers on the mortgage has not owned a primary residence within the past three years. The changes take effect Dec. 13 at Fannie and March 23 at Freddie.

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