Introduction | Steps to homeownership | FAQs

CalHFA understands that buying a home is a huge responsibility; it is also a huge opportunity. Owning your home means you can paint the walls with your favorite color, plant flowers and vegetables if you choose and plant the seed for an investment in your future.

Of course, before you leap into all of the benefits of homeownership, you should get prepared first. To help you get ready and get the most out of CalHFA’s loan programs and assistance, follow these easy steps.

Your Steps to Homeownership with CalHFA

Step 1

Learn about CalHFA’s financing options and eligibility requirements.

Eligibility Calculator
Eligibility Calculator
Most people borrow the large amount of money they need to buy a home. This type of borrowing is called a first mortgage loan. There are also mortgage loans that can help out with down payment or closing costs, called junior loans.

CalHFA has first and junior loan options for low to moderate income families, including low to zero interest rate down payment assistance loans. CalHFA does not accept loan applications directly. A CalHFA approved Lender will qualify you for a home loan, so you will need to apply with one of our Preferred Loan Officers or approved Lenders (See Step 2). You can find the details about CalHFA mortgage loans by clicking the “Loan Programs” tab above.

You’ll also want to look at our income limits and other eligibility criteria. You can find out more by clicking on the “Borrower & Property Eligibility” tabs above. Another option is to use our Eligibility Calculator to see what programs are right for you.

Don’t forget to check with your local housing authorities and agencies for other financing options.

Step 2

Talk to a CalHFA Preferred Loan Officer to get pre-qualified for a loan amount.

After determining if you are eligible for a CalHFA home loan, the next step is to speak to a knowledgeable loan officer and get pre-qualified to determine how much of a loan you can afford. You may also use a prequalification calculator to give you an idea of where you stand financially before contacting one of our Preferred Loan Officers. Click on the “Find a Loan Officer” tab above to contact a Loan Officer in your area.

Step 3

Attend a homebuyer education course if you are a first-time homebuyer.

If you are a first-time homebuyer, and have been pre-qualified, you must attend a homebuyer education course. This education will help you understand the importance and responsibilities of homeownership. In order to obtain a CalHFA home loan, your loan officer must produce your certificate of completion from one of the following entities:

Additional California Dream For All education

  • ONLINE: This education is free and online only. Visit calhfadreamforall.com to get signed up and take the course.

Step 4

Start looking for a home.

Talk to a local Realtor to guide you through this process

Once you’ve found a home that fits most of your needs and is in your price range, make an offer through your real estate agent. If your offer is accepted, congratulations! If not, don’t lose heart, and don’t feel pressured into making an offer that’s outside your budget; there are other homes just waiting for the right new owner.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Do I qualify for CalHFA programs?
    To determine your eligibility, you can review the information provided under the Borrower Eligibility tab above.

  2. What is the Credit Score requirement?
    Credit score requirements will vary for each program, but the minimum score is between 660 and 680, depending on some other factors. A Preferred Loan Officer can assess your financial situation and tell you what score you’ll need to qualify.

  3. What programs are available?
    CalHFA offers a variety of first mortgage and down payment assistance programs. You can find details on all of these programs under the Loan Programs tab.

  4. What is the interest rate?

    Interest rates will vary depending on your financial circumstances, lender fees, and other factors. Interest rates can also change daily. We recommend that you check with a loan officer to receive an accurate rate quote.

  5. What are the income limits?
    Income limits vary according to program and the county in which the property is being purchased. It's best to review the individual Program Descriptions to determine the income limit in your area. You can find the details for income limits in the borrower requirements section of each Program Description.

  6. Does CalHFA have sales price limits for the home I want to buy?
    No, CalHFA does not have sales price limits.

  7. Are there any steps I can take to make sure my home transfers to the right people if something unexpected happens to me?
    You may want to consider placing your new home into a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust is a legal instrument that can allow your heirs, who inherit your property, to avoid paying costly legal fees in probate proceedings. This helps to protect generational wealth for your descendants or beneficiaries. Contact an attorney or estate planner to find out more.

For more FAQs visit our knowledgebase.

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