California First Time House Patrons: 2021 Packages & Grants

What You Should Know About Buying a Home in California

Needless to say, real estate prices in the Golden State are staggering: the highest in the continental United States. So, it's a good thing that California first-time home buyers have a variety of resources to turn to for advice, education, and financial help. Here's what you should know.

Confirm Eligibility to Buy a Home in California (June 15, 2021)

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California Home Buyers Summary

The average home purchase price in California is significantly higher than in most states. Eligible first-time buyers can really benefit from the home ownership programs described below.

California Home Buyers Summary

Average home sale price
$ 758,990

California minimum deposit (3%)
$ 22,770

20% deposit in California
$ 151,798

Average Credit Score in California 1

Maximum Grant for California Homebuyers2
Deferred loan up to 17% of home appraisal
(San Diego and Silicon Valley only)

Down payment amounts are based on the last available average home sale price in the state. A “minimum” down payment is assumed to be 3% less than a conventional mortgage with a minimum credit rating of 620.

If you are eligible for a VA loan (supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs) or a USDA loan (supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture), you may not need a down payment at all.

Confirm Eligibility to Buy a Home in California (June 15, 2021)

California Initial Home Buyer Loans

If you're a California first-time home buyer with a 20% down payment, you can get a conventional loan with a low interest rate. And you never have to pay for personal mortgage insurance (PMI).

Of course, few first-time buyers have saved a 20% deposit. This could be especially difficult in California, where 20% of the average retail price is over $ 150,000.

But the good news is, you don't need 20% less. By far not.

California home buyers can often move into a new home as little as 3% or even 0% with one of these mortgage programs:

Conventional 97 – From Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. 3% down payment and at least 620 credits. You can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few yearsFHA loans – Supported by the Federal Housing Administration. Down 3.5% and a credit score of at least 580. But you're looking for mortgage insurance until you refinance, move, or pay off your loan on a different type of mortgageVA loan – For veterans and service members only. A zero deposit is required. The minimum credit score varies by lender, but is often 620. No ongoing mortgage insurance upon completion. These are arguably the best mortgages available. So apply when you are eligibleUSDA loan – For low to middle income people who shop in designated rural areas. Zero deposit required. The creditworthiness requirements vary depending on the lender, but often 640. Low mortgage insurance ratesCalHFA mortgage programs – Government and conventional home loans offered through the California Housing Finance Agency. Offers 30 year first fixed rate mortgage as well as homebuyer assistance

Depending on the mortgage loan you choose, you may be able to get into your new home with minimal cash out of your pocket.

With these programs, you can even use free cash or down payment aids to help cover down payment and closing costs.

If you are unsure which program to choose for your first mortgage, your loan officer can help you find the right deal based on your finances and home buying goals.

Find the best first-time buyer loan for you (06/15/2021)

California Programs for First Time Home Buyers

If you are looking for help buying a home, this is the place to go.


For a California first-time home buyer, the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) is a good place to look for assistance.

This agency offers a wide range of first-time home loan programs at their own special interest rates, including:

The CalHFA FHA programCalPLUS FHA credit program (can be combined with the CalHFA Zero Interest Program (ZIP) to cover acquisition costs) The CalHFA VA credit programThe CalHFA USDA credit programCalHFA conventional credit program CalPLUS conventional credit program (which can be combined with the CalHFA Zero Interest Program (ZIP ) to cover the closing costs)

CalHFA also offers an eight-hour online training course for homebuyers for $ 99. Participation is mandatory if you would like to be eligible for financial support from the agency (more below).

And it enables one-on-one consultations for home buyers, which can be personal or virtual. However, the fees vary depending on the service chosen.

The agency has income limits and purchase price limits if you want financial help. And you need a good credit score of 660-680 or higher, depending on a few other factors. To see if you are eligible, use the wizard on the CalHFA website.


The CalVet program is only open to veterans, military personnel, and people in closely related groups. The website states that "so you can understand the steps to owning a home and discover how easy and stress-free it can be to buy a home and apply for a CalVet home loan."

The agency offers special VA loan options that can help veterans looking to buy homes in the Golden State. You can call CalVet's lenders to verify your eligibility at (866) 653-2510 Monday-Friday, 8 am-5pm.

Grants for First Time Home Buyers in California

The Golden State has a myriad of Down Payment Assistance Programs (DPAs) that can provide you with financial support for your down payment and often closing costs.

Some of these are local and serve specific counties or cities. But here are the details of the main nationwide program:


Qualified homebuyers can borrow up to $ 11,000 for their down payment and closing costs under the CalHFA MyHome Assistance program.

To qualify for the MyHome Down Payment Program, homeowners must:

Be a First Time Home Buyer Buy a Single Family Home Live in the house as your primary residenceFull Education Advice for Home Buyers Comply with Income Limits

Note that the US $ 11,000 DPA limit does not apply to “school workers, fire fighters, or those buying new buildings, prefabricated houses, or homes with ADUs”. An ADU is an additional residential unit, which is a house or apartment that is part of a larger house.

Whether or not this $ 11,000 limit applies, you cannot borrow more than:

3.5% of the purchase price of the house for an FHA loan 3% for a conventional, VA, or USDA loan

These are loans (second mortgages, also called junior loans) rather than grants.

However, these are “deferred payment” loans. That means you don't have to make any monthly payments. Instead, when you move, sell, refinance, or otherwise change hands, you pay back the full amount (plus interest).

If you like the sound of the CALFHA offering, don't commit until you've checked out other data protection agencies in your area. One of these could suit you better.

Use the links below for your city or county. And of course, if you're a veteran, explore CalVet's products.

Buy a home in one of the major cities of California

California's major cities are among the most expensive in the country. So home buyers in these areas will want to know what to expect.

First time home buyer in Los Angeles

The average property price in Los Angeles was $ 950,000 as of May 2021, according to That was 10.6% more than in the previous year.

If you want to buy a home at this average price, your down payment options can be between the following options:

$ 28,500 for 3% deposit$ 190,000 for 20% deposit

The quickly named City of Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) has a few programs that can help first-time buyers. These are the Low Income Purchase Assistance (LIPA) program and the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC).

The former can provide deferred payment loans of up to $ 90,000 to low-income borrowers. These loans have no monthly installments and are repaid when you move or refinance.

There are similar programs for those shopping outside of the LA city limits operated by the Los Angeles County Development Authority.

First time home buyer in San Diego

The average home price in San Diego was $ 775,000 in May 2021, according to That was 8.3% more than in the previous year.

If you're looking to buy a home at that average price, your down payment options may include:

$ 23,250 for 3% deposit$ 155,000 for 20% deposit

The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) First-Time Homebuyer Program offers several types of assistance, including deferred loans, home ownership grants, and mortgage credit certificates.

The website continues, "First-time low-income home buyers can qualify for a low-interest loan with a deferral of up to 17% of the purchase price for down payment assistance and 4% up to $ 10,000 for closing aid."

First time home buyer in San Jose

The average home price in San Jose was a staggering $ 1.1 million in May 2021, according to That was 10.2% more than in the previous year.

If you want to buy a home at this average price, your down payment options can be between the following options:

$ 33,000 for 3% deposit220,000 for 20% deposit

Housing Trust Silicon Valley has a program called Empower Homebuyers SCC that can give you up to 17% of the appraised value of your next home (including strings).

This is another deferred loan i.e. H. Instead of making monthly payments, you have to repay the full amount “when the loan comes due, you decide to sell your mortgage or you refinance your mortgage”… plus. The plus here is a percentage of the amount your home has been upgraded over the years.

How it works

The website explains:

“You will share your appreciation in equal proportion to the amount you borrowed. That is, if your loan was 17% of the purchase price, share 17% of the increase in value and the rest of the equity that builds on your home over time is yours. "

“For example, if you buy a home for $ 600,000 and use Empower to borrow 17% ($ 102,000) for the down payment, and the house later sells for $ 800,000, you owe a total of $ 136,000 (the original loan amount of $ 102,000, plus $ 34,000 / 17% of the $ 200,000 appreciation). "

Of course, you must have saved 3% of the purchase price in order to benefit. But then you can save 20% which will give you a low mortgage rate and which should save you from paying any mortgage insurance.

If your income is too high for this program, an alternative is the Homebuyer Empowerment Loan Program (HELP), also run by the Housing Trust Silicon Valley.

Where can I find help buying a home in California

All of the organizations listed above should provide free advice to any first-time home buyer in the state of California.

In addition to our selections, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides some lists for statewide, regional, and local resources:

Nationwide and regional CA home purchase programs

CA Home Buying Programs by City and County

What are the mortgage rates in California today?

Current California mortgage rates are low. However, your own interest rate will depend on many factors – including your credit score, down payment, loan type, and more.

If you are using a homebuyer assistance program, choose from a list of participating lenders. Your mortgage lender will then assign a loan officer to assist you through the rest of the transaction.

Just because you choose an approved lender first doesn't mean you have to stick with it.

You should still be looking for your best mortgage rate and overall deal. Because doing so could save you thousands.

If you are not using a down payment support program, you can choose any mortgage lender. Compare offers from at least 3-5 lenders to find the best deal.

Confirm your new price (June 15, 2021)

1 Source: 2021 study on 2020 data

2Based on a review of available state DPA grants at the time of this writing

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