First-Time Home Buyer Loans in California

Buying your first home is not only rewarding but one of the most important investment decisions you’ll ever make. Standard Lenders offers a range of first-time home buyer loans to help you find the best mortgage for your financial needs. Let us help you achieve your American Dream.

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Buying Your First Home in California

If you’re in the market to buy your first home, home prices may give you a sticker shock. That’s especially true in California, which is among the most expensive states to buy a home in. While buying a home in the Golden State might seem like a pipe dream, becoming a homeowner is an attainable goal with countless loan programs available for first-time homebuyers in California.

Californians can benefit both from national mortgage programs and state-level options offered by the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA). From getting help for a down payment to covering the closing costs, there’s a loan product to meet your every need. Explore all the national and state mortgage options available to buy your first home in the Golden State.

National First-Time Home Buyer Programs

Before we walk you through mortgage programs specifically developed for California residents, we’ll discuss a few national home loan options available to residents in all states. Offered by most private lenders, these national mortgage programs can be a great option for people that need loans with flexible credit or low down payment requirements.

Conventional loans

Also known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, conventional loans are the most common loan option for first-time homebuyers. You need a minimum credit score of 620, less than 50% debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, and at least a 3% down payment to qualify for these loans.

VA loans

Partially guaranteed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), these government-backed mortgages help current service members and veterans become homeowners. To apply for these low-interest rate loans, home buyers need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA.

FHA loans

Another type of government-insured mortgage, FHA loans are designed for people with low-to-moderate income levels. Popular with first-time homebuyers in California, you can qualify for this loan with a credit score of 500 and a DTI ratio that is lower than 43%.

USDA loans

Developed for low-income rural homebuyers, these mortgages are directly issued by and guaranteed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The loans have very low-interest rates and don’t require down payments to improve the quality of life in rural America.

CalHFA First-Time Home Buyer Programs

If you have not owned a home for the last three years, then you are considered a first-time home buyer in California. The California state government offers a variety of mortgage and assistance programs to help residents buy their first homes. These programs are a great option for borrowers that need financial assistance for a down payment and closing costs.

CalHFA Conventional Loan Program

The CalHFA conventional loan is a 30-year first-time home buyer mortgage with a fixed interest rate. The interest rate varies depending on your financial circumstances, lender fees, and other factors. This mortgage is insured through private insurance on the conventional market.

CalPLUS Conventional Loan Program

The CalPLUS conventional loan is another 30-year mortgage, but with a slightly higher interest rate than the standard conventional program. This mortgage is combined with the CalHFA Zero Interest Program (ZIP) to help you with the loan’s closing costs.

CalHFA FHA Loan Program

The CalHFA FHA program is a first-time home buyer loan that is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. Like other CalHFA programs, this loan is a 30-year mortgage with a fixed interest rate. You must meet FHA’s borrowing requirements to qualify for this loan.

CalPLUS FHA Loan Program

The CalPLUS FHA program is another government-insured 30-year mortgage for first-time homebuyers in California. This mortgage has a slightly higher interest rate than the standard CalFHA FHA program. The loan comes with CalHFA ZIP to assist borrowers with closing costs.

CalHFA VA Loan Program

The CalHFA VA loan is a mortgage program that is backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This program features CalHFA’s 30-year mortgage with a fixed interest rate. You must meet VA’s requirements to qualify for this loan.

CalHFA USDA Program

The CalHFA USDA loan is a first-time homebuyer program that is guaranteed by the US Department of Agriculture. This loan is a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage that is combined with CalFHA’s MyHome Assistance Program. You must live in rural California to qualify for this loan.

MyHome Assistance Program

If you can’t afford a mortgage down payment, then this program is designed for you. CalFHA’s MyHome Assistance Program provides up to $15,000 to help you pay for a down payment on a first home. This deferred loan is paid back after you refinance your home, sell it, or pay it in full.

Get the Right First-Time Home Buyer Loan With Standard Lenders

With all these mortgages available to California residents, finding the right loan product can be challenging. But don’t worry ⏤ Standard Lenders will work with you every step of the way to make the loan selection, application, and approval process as seamless as possible. We’ll connect with you via phone, email, and within your home to accommodate your every need.

A top California mortgage broker, we use our expertise and industry connections to unlock the best first-time home buyer loans in California. Whether you have a less than perfect credit score or can’t afford a large down payment, Standard Lenders will design a customized loan product for you that is tailored to your needs.

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Common Questions About First-Time Home Buyer Loans in CA

How can I qualify for CalHFA loan programs?

You need a credit score of 660-680, a DTI ratio that is below 45% and meet CalHFA’s income limits to qualify for the state’s First Mortgage Programs. You should also attend an 8-hour homebuyer education course and present a certificate before applying for these loans.

How much down payment do I need to buy a house?

Many first-time home buyers think they need to put down at least 20% to buy a house. But that’s not true. While a 20% down payment helps you avoid mortgage insurance, you can buy a home in California with as much as a 3% down payment. VA and USDA loans have 0% down payment.

What type of properties can I buy with a CalHFA loan?

CalHFA loans are intended for low to moderate-income first-time home buyers in California. Therefore, you can’t use these mortgages to buy vacation homes or investment properties. With a CalHFA loan, you can buy a single-family, one-unit, primary residence that costs less than $765,000.

What disqualifies first-time home buyer loans?

To be qualified as a first-time home buyer, you must not have owned or co-owned a residential property within the last three years. You should also meet the lender’s credit and DTI requirements. Some first-time mortgage programs will also ask you to take homebuyer education courses.