California First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2020

NerdWalletMarch 4, 2020
GettyImages-83802508

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.

NerdWallet Guide to COVID-19

Get answers to questions about your mortgage, travel, finances — and maintaining your peace of mind.

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.

Highlights

  • 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

Eligibility

  • 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

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.