Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
The homebuying process can be daunting, not to mention expensive. That's why the California Housing Finance Agency, or CalHFA, offers several loan programs to help qualified first-time home buyers get a mortgage.
You may also benefit from a national loan program that features low credit score or down payment requirements. Explore all the options for buying your first home in the Golden State.
National first-time home buyer programs
Offered by most lenders, these national loan programs are always worth consideration, especially if you need flexible credit requirements or low down payment options.
CalHFA highlights and eligibility requirements
If you haven’t owned and occupied your own home in the past three years, you’re considered a first-time home buyer in California, and may want to choose one of these CalHFA programs as a more affordable path to homeownership.
» MORE: Tips for first-time home buyers
Down payment and closing cost assistance available for low- to moderate-income borrowers
Some condos, manufactured homes and properties with guesthouses or in-law quarters allowed
Property must be located in California and be the borrower’s primary residence until it’s sold or refinanced
In most cases, borrowers must be first-time home buyers and U.S. citizens, permanent residents or qualified aliens
Must have a minimum credit score of 660
Must meet all income and sales price requirements of the lender and mortgage insurer
Must take an approved home buyer education course and obtain a certificate of completion
Leaseholds/land trusts and co-ops not permitted
Property must be 5 acres or smaller in size
There may be additional program-specific requirements
Compare CalHFA lenders
CalHFA first-time home buyer loan programs
Summary: 2020 CalHFA first-time home buyer programs
MyHome Assistance Program for assistance with down payment and closing costs.
CalHFA Zero Interest Program for closing cost help on CalPLUS Conventional and CalPLUS FHA loans.
Now that you've got a general understanding of the first-time home buyer programs available in California, it’s time to dig into specifics. For full details on any of the programs listed above, visit the CalHFA website.
CalHFA doesn’t review applications or lend money; mortgage decisions are made by its network of preferred loan officers and approved lenders. These lenders may have their own rules about income limits, credit scores and eligible properties. If you’ve found a first-time home buyer loan program that seems like a good fit, reach out directly to a lender for more information.
More from NerdWallet