California Down Payment Assistance

California is home to beautiful beaches and wonderful culture. It's no wonder, then, that it has some of the highest house prices in the country, and with that, is one of the states with the highest average mortgage debt. This can make home ownership in California difficult.

Luckily, local and national programs exist that offer down payment assistance and grants to qualified applicants. Some organizations that offer such programs include the California Housing Agency, the Golden State Finance Authority, the San Diego Home Consortium, and more!

If you're thinking about purchasing a home in California, you may have options to help with the down payment or closing costs. Click on any program below to learn more and see if it can help with your home purchase!

MyHome Assistance Program

Through the MyHome Assistance Program, qualified individuals can receive a junior loan for as much as 3% of the sale price or appraised value of the home. This loan has deferred-payment and funds are used to help cover the down payment and/or closing costs.

Interested applicants must have a California Housing Agency (CalHFA) mortgage, be first-time homebuyers, use the property as their primary residence, finish a homebuyer education class, meet their lender and mortgage insurers’ requirements, and may also need to fall within certain income limits.

In order to qualify, the purchase price cannot be more than a certain amount (determined by location), and must also be a one-unit, single-family residence. In some cases, properties with guest houses, granny units, or in-law quarters can be eligible. Manufactured houses are allowed as long as they have a permanent foundation and the borrower has an FHA first mortgage.  The property cannot have a lot size larger than 5 acres. Leaseholds, land-trusts and co-ops are not allowed.

Brentwood Down Payment Assistance Program

Homebuyers in the city of Brentwood may be eligible for this down payment assistance program. Up to $10,000 of assistance funds are offered in the form of loan with deferred payment. Because funding for this program is limited, assistance is offered first-come, first-served to eligible applicants.

The loan will need to be paid back once the first mortgage has been paid off, the property is refinanced, or the house no longer serves as the applicant’s primary residence. The loan has a decreasing interest rate which gets lower the longer that the applicant lives in the house.

In order to qualify, applicants must have a fixed-rate conventional first mortgage with a preferred lender. Applicants must also be first-time homebuyers, have not owned a house within California for the prior three years, and finish a first-time homebuyer education class. Applicants will also need to fall within an annual household income limit of less than 120% of the area median income. At least 3% of the down payment must be paid for by the applicant out of their own funds.

Emeryville First Time Homebuyer Loan Program

Through the First Time Homebuyer Loan Program, eligible applicants can receive down payment assistance. Assistance is offered in the form of a deferred payment loan. The interest rate for this loan is 75% of the first mortgage’s rate, but not more than 5%. This loan must be repaid when the house is sold, transferred, is no longer the applicant’s primary residence, or after a term of 30 years.

Applicants must put down a minimum of 3% of the down payment from their own funds. Most applicants must be first-time homebuyers and have not owned a home in the prior three years in order to qualify. However, exceptions can be made for single individuals who had previously owned a home with an ex-spouse or an ex-domestic partner, or employees of the city of Emeryville or of the Emery Unified School District.

Most applicants will also need to meet certain household income limits, and have a total household income less than 120% of the area median income. However, this may not apply if one of the homebuyers is an employee of the city of Emeryville.

In order for a house to qualify under this program, it must be the borrower’s primary residence. It must also meet a certain minimum and maximum household size, determined by Section 503(b) of the Uniform Housing Code and based on the number of bedrooms. These limits are as follows:

  • Studio -- 1 to 2 people
  • 1 bedroom -- 1 to 3 people
  • 2 bedrooms -- 2 to 5 people
  • 3 bedrooms -- 3 to 7 people
  • 4 bedrooms -- 4 to 9 people

GSFA Platinum Program

The Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA) offers its Platinum Program to help with the down payment and closing costs of a home loan. Assistance is offered in the form of a grant for up to 5% of the loan amount. This does not need to be paid back.

Eligible applicants must be using the house as their primary residence, fall within certain income limits, have a minimum credit score of 640, and a debt-to-income ratio no higher than 50%.

CalHome Program

The CalHome Program, also known as Homebuyer Downpayment and Closing Cost Assistance or DCCA, is available through the San Diego Home Consortium. Up to 17% of the sale price of a property is available for down payment assistance, and up to 4% (but no more than $10,000) is available for closing cost assistance. This is a deferred-payment loan with a 3% interest rate, which accrues annually.

The loan amount and any interest become due when the house is refinanced (unless it’s an FHA Streamline Refinance), sold, or is no longer the applicant’s primary residence, or when the first mortgage is paid off.

In order to qualify for CalHome, applicants must be first-time homebuyers, cannot have owned a house within the last three years, and fall within an annual household income limit of no more than 80% of the area median income. Further, borrowers must put down at least 3% of the sale price from their own funds, and their first mortgage loan must be the maximum amount they can qualify for. They must also finish an approved homebuying education course.

There is also a household size limit – there can only be a maximum of two individuals per living space in a house. “Living space” includes bedrooms, living rooms, family rooms, dens, and studies.

The property must be used as the applicant’s primary residence and be in Carlsbad, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach, Vista, or the unincorporated areas of San Diego county. The house must be a new or resale single-family detached unit, condominium, townhouse or a manufactured home on a permanent foundation.

As of 2020, the maximum sale price is $383,800 for new or existing properties, $517,750 for attached townhomes or condominiums, and $517,750 for a single-family residence. An inspection will be required to verify that the house is safe and does not have lead-based paint. The original building permit will also need to be provided, and the property may need flood insurance if it’s in a flood plain.

First Home Mortgage Program

The First Home Mortgage Program was created by the Southern California Home Financing Authority, an authority between Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The Los Angeles County Community Development Commission (CDC) and the Public Finance Division of the County of Orange both oversee the program.

Assistance funds are offered in the form of a grant for up to 4% of the mortgage amount. These funds can be used to help cover the costs of the down payment and/or closing. This grant does not need to be paid back.

In addition to this program, applicants can also utilize the Home Ownership Program and/or the Mortgage Credit Certificate Program.

Applicants must be working with a participating lender in order to receive assistance. Applicants must also have a credit score of at least 640, and a debt-to-income ratio no more than 45%. A homebuying education class must be finished, and a certificate of completion attained with a date not more than 12 months prior to closing.

New and existing houses in Orange and Los Angeles counties (but not in the City of Los Angeles) are eligible for this program, providing they meet the purchase price limits, which as of 2020 are:

  • Existing Homes in Non-Targeted Areas: $585,713
  • New Homes in Non-Targeted Areas: $585,713
  • Existing Homes in Targeted Areas: $715,872
  • New Homes in Targeted Areas: $715, 872

The total annual household income limits for the program for 2020 are as follows:

For Los Angeles County:

1- 2 person household: $108,120
3 or more person household: $126,140

For Orange County:

1- 2 person household: $125,160
3 or more person household: $146,020

Monterey County Down Payment Assistance Program

The First Time Homebuyers (FTHB) Down Payment Assistance Program is offered by Monterey County and funded by HOME funds provided by the state of California. This program is available for eligible properties in the unincorporated parts of Monterey County.

The amount of assistance cannot exceed the lesser of the maximum HOME subsidy limit, 20% of the sale price of the property, or the amount needed determined by underwriting criteria. This is a loan to help cover the costs of the down payment.

In order to be eligible for this program, individuals must be first-time homebuyers, have not owned a home in the previous three years, and put down a minimum of 3.5% of the sale price for the down payment from their own funds.

In order for a house to be eligible, it must be the homebuyer’s primary residence and cannot have more than 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, or a 2-car garage. Further, the sales price cannot be more than $396,000 as of 2020.

The total annual household income limit for 2020 is as follows:

  • 1 person household: $46,800
  • 2 person household: $53,450
  • 3 person household: $60,150
  • 4 person household: $66,800
  • 5 person household: $72,150
  • 6 person household: $77,500
  • 7 person household: $82,850
  • 8 person household: $88,200

Santa Ana Downpayment Assistance Program

First-time homebuyers in the city of Santa Ana may be able to utilize this down payment assistance program. Up to $40,000 as a 0% interest loan is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

In order to qualify, the applicant must be using the property as their primary residence. Applicants must also be first-time homebuyers, have not owned a house in the prior three years, have been pre-qualified for a mortgage, have acceptable credit, and fall within certain income limits. A minimum of 3% of the down payment must be paid using the applicant’s own funds. Further, a Homebuyer Counseling Program is required.

The house being purchased must be a new or existing house or condo in Santa Ana. As of 2020, the price cannot be more than $499,000.

As of 2020, the total annual household income limits are as follows:

  • 1 person household: $54,600
  • 2 person household: $62,400
  • 3 person household: $70,200
  • 4 person household: $78,000
  • 5 person household: $84,250
  • 6 person household: $90,500
  • 7 person household: $96,750
  • 8 person household: $103,000

Annual household income is defined as any income earned by anyone in the household age 18 and up, even if they’re not listed on the mortgage loan.

Riverside Down Payment Assistance Program

The Riverside Down Payment Assistance Program is funded by the CalHome Grant, which is offered by California’s Department of Housing and Community Development. Eligible applicants can receive up to $50,000 (or 25% of the purchase price – whichever is the lesser amount). This is a deferred-payment interest-free loan with a term of 30 years.

The loan amount becomes due after the 30-year term, or when the house is sold, transferred, refinanced, or used as a rental property.

 Qualified applicants have to be first-time homebuyers, have a minimum credit score of 580, and fall within certain income limits. In addition, they must be able to put down a minimum of 1% of the sales price from their own funds.

The purchase property must be the borrower’s primary residence, and cannot have a purchase price higher than $355,500 as of 2020. The property must be a single-family home, townhouse/condominium, or a manufactured home.

Total annual household income limits for 2020 are: 1 person household: $37,550
2 person household: $42,900
3 person household: $48,250
4 person household: $53,600
5 person household: $57,900
6 person household: $62,200
7 person household: $66,500
8 person household: $70,800

School Teacher Employee Assistance Program

As the name suggests, the School Teacher Employee Assistance Program (or School Program for short) is meant to offer down payment assistance to eligible teachers, administrators, and other employees and staff members at K-12 public schools, charter schools, or county/continuation schools in California.

A junior loan for up to 4% of the sale price is offered as assistance funds. It must be put towards the down payment and/or closing costs. The interest rate on this loan varies, so the consumer should check for updated information.

Applicants must have a CalHFA mortgage loan. Location of the property plays a factor in approval.

In addition to being school employees, applicants must also be first-time homebuyers, be able to show proof of their employment, and finish a homebuyer education class.

As of 2020, the property must not have a purchase price of more than $765,000, and can be a single-family, one-unit residence, approved condominium/PUD (guesthouses, granny units and in-law quarters may be allowed), or a manufactured house on a permanent foundation.

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