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California First-Time Buyer Assistance Programs: A Path to Homeownership

California First-Time Buyer Assistance Programs: A Path to Homeownership

California First-Time Buyer Assistance Programs: A Path to Homeownership

Buying a home for the first time can be both exciting and daunting, especially in a high-cost state like California. Fortunately, several first-time homebuyer assistance programs are available to help ease the financial burden and make homeownership more accessible. Here’s an overview of critical programs designed to assist first-time buyers in California.

California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) Programs

CalHFA First Mortgage Program

CalHFA offers a variety of fixed-rate mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers. These loans have lower interest rates and can be paired with CalHFA’s down payment and closing cost assistance programs, making them an excellent option for those needing financial support.

CalHFA MyHome Assistance Program

The MyHome Assistance Program provides a deferred-payment junior loan of up to 3.5% of the home’s purchase price or appraised value, whichever is less. This loan can be used for down payment or closing costs and does not require monthly payments, helping to reduce the immediate financial burden on first-time buyers.

CalHFA Zero Interest Program (ZIP)

The ZIP offers a zero-interest loan for closing costs. This loan can be up to 3% of the first mortgage loan amount, easing the financial pressure during the closing process. It’s a valuable option for those who have managed their down payment but need assistance with additional costs.

California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Programs

CalHome Program

The CalHome Program provides grants to local public agencies and nonprofit developers to assist individual first-time homebuyers with deferred-payment loans. These loans can be used for down payments or rehabilitation work to make the home safe and habitable. The funds are allocated to participating organizations, which in turn help eligible homebuyers.

Local First-Time Homebuyer Programs

San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD)

San Francisco offers various programs tailored to first-time homebuyers, including the Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (DALP), which provides up to $375,000 as a deferred-payment loan to assist with the down payment. This program is aimed explicitly at moderate-income households struggling with the high cost of living in the city.

Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA)

Los Angeles offers the Low Income Purchase Assistance (LIPA) program, which provides up to $90,000 for down payment, closing costs, and acquisition financing. This assistance helps bridge the gap for low-income first-time homebuyers in LA’s competitive market.

Federal Assistance Programs

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans

FHA loans are not exclusive to California but are a valuable resource for first-time homebuyers nationwide. These loans require lower down payments and credit scores, making them accessible for buyers who might not qualify for conventional loans.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Loans

USDA loans offer zero-down-payment options for homes in eligible rural areas. These loans provide an excellent opportunity for first-time buyers looking to purchase property in less densely populated regions of California.


Navigating the home buying process for the first time can be overwhelming, but California offers a robust array of assistance programs to help first-time buyers overcome financial barriers. From state-level initiatives like those provided by CalHFA to local programs in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, numerous resources are available to make homeownership more attainable. By exploring these programs, first-time buyers can find the support they need to achieve their dream of owning a home in California.

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