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California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA)

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First-Time Homebuyers 

CalHFA understands that buying your first home is a huge responsibility; it is also a huge opportunity. Owning your home means you can paint the walls with your favorite color, plant flowers and vegetables if you choose and plant the seed for an investment in your future.

Of course, before you leap into all of the benefits of homeownership, you should get prepared first. To help you get ready and get the most out of CalHFA’s loan programs and assistance, follow these easy steps.

Four Steps

Step 1

There are ten tips that every first-time homebuyer should know. We suggest you review these guidelines so you’ll be well-prepared for finding and financing your first home.

Step 2

Find out which programs you might qualify for by looking at the Borrower & Property Eligibility.

Step 3

Once you know which programs you could be eligible for (from Step 2), find all the details for each program by looking at the Loan Programs.

Step 4

Now it’s time to start talking to an expert. CalHFA teams up with a number of approved loan officers who know all about our programs, financing, documentation, eligibility and other details. Find a Loan Officer above to find contact information for a Loan Officer in your area.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1.Do I qualify for CalHFA programs?
To determine your eligibility, you can review the information provided under the Borrower Eligibility.

2.What is the FICO Score requirement?
FICO score requirements will vary for each program. It’s best to review the individual Program Descriptions to determine the minimum FICO score requirements for each program. You can find the details for FICO scores in the borrower requirements section of each Program Description.

3.What programs are available?
CalHFA offers a variety of first mortgage and down payment assistance programs.

4.What is the interest rate?

Interest rates will vary depending on your financial circumstances, lender fees, and other factors. Interest rates can also change daily. We recommend that you check with a loan officer to receive an accurate rate quote.

5.What are the income limits?
Income limits vary according to program and the county in which the property is being purchased. It’s best to review the individual Program Descriptions to determine the income limit in your area. You can find the details for income limits in the borrower requirements section of each Program Description

California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP)

The CHDAP provides a deferred-payment junior loan – up to 3% of the purchase price, or appraised value, whichever is less, to be used for their down payment and/or closing costs. This program may be combined with a CalHFA or non-CalHFA, first mortgage loan.

Review the sections below to find out more about the CHDAP program.

Program Eligibility | Interest Rate | Homebuyer Education | How to Apply

(CHDAP program)

PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY

Am I eligible to apply for this program?
Review the guidelines below for both “Borrower” and “Property” Requirements to determine if you may be eligible to apply for the CHDAP program.

Borrower Requirements

•Be a first-time homebuyer
•Occupy the property as their primary residence, non-occupant co-borrowers are not allowed
•CalHFA borrowers must complete homebuyer education counseling and obtain a certificate of completion through an eligible homebuyer counseling organization.
•Your income must be less than the allowable CHDAP income limits. ■CHDAP Income Limits when using an FHA first mortgage
■CHDAP Income Limits when using a VA, USDA or Conventional first mortgage

•Meet the requirement of the lender and mortgage insurer / guarantor

*In the case of conflicting guidelines, the lender must follow the more restrictive.

Property Requirements

•Sales price of the home cannot exceed CalHFA’s sales price limits established for the county in which the property is located
•Be a single-family, one-unit residence, including approved condominium/PUDs

*In the case of conflicting guidelines, the lender must follow the more restrictive.

Additional Property Guidelines
•Condominiums must meet the guidelines of the first mortgage
•Manufactured housing is not permitted
•There is a five acre maximum on the size of the property
•Leaseholds/Land Trusts and Co-ops are not permitted
•Meet the requirements of the mortgage insurer/guarantor

(CHDAP program)

INTEREST RATE

What is the interest rate?
Interest rates will vary depending on your financial circumstances, lender fees, and other factors. Interest rates can also change daily. We recommend that you check with a CalHFA-approved loan officer to receive an accurate rate quote for this program.

CalHFA does not lend money directly to consumers. CalHFA works through and uses approved private lenders to qualify consumers and to make all mortgage loans. CalHFA purchases closed loans that meet CalHFA’s requirements. The fees consumers pay could be different depending on the lender and the program. View the sample Truth in Lending disclosure here.

(CalHFA FHA program)

HOMEBUYER EDUCATION

Because CalHFA firmly believes that homebuyer education is critical to your success and happiness as a homeowner, homebuyer education is required on all first-time homebuyer programs that CalHFA offers. We will accept homebuyer education counseling certificates online, in-person, or by phone. Here are some examples of providers:
•Freddie Mac Homebuyer Counseling Counselors/Administrators Search

•HUD-approved Housing Counselors
•NeighborWorks America
•U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112
•Private Mortgage Insurers approved by Fannie Mae. Check private mortgage insurer’s web site for homebuyer counseling availability.

(CHDAP program)

HOW TO APPLY

How do I apply for this loan program?
Since CalHFA is not a direct lender, our mortgage products are offered through private loan officers who have been approved & trained by our Agency. These loan officers can help you find out more about CalHFA’s programs and guide you through the home buying process.

What documents should I have ready when contacting a loan officer?
When initially contacting a loan officer, you may want to have this list of documents and information available to help answer questions that they will ask you:
•Pay stubs
•Bank statements
•Employment history
•Previous tax returns