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Last updated: May 28, 2024

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California Mortgage Overview

California is the Golden State — home to many of the country's largest cities, it has a diverse population and plenty of sunshine to go around.

The median home price in California is $505,000, so it's not the least expensive place to live, but if it's within your budget, there are beautiful homes to purchase for families of all sizes.

If you're looking to borrow money for a California home, here are your options.

California conventional loans

Borrowers with great credit get the best terms with a conventional loan. You don't need perfect credit - usually around a 660, but your debts must be under control too. Show lenders, you're a good borrower and you'll snag the low rates available today.

California FHA loans

If you have less-than-perfect credit or your credit card debt is higher than conventional lenders like the FHA loan is a good option. With more flexible guidelines, you only need a 580 credit score and a 3.5 percent down payment. Some borrowers get a loan with as little as a 500 credit score, but a 10 percent down payment.

California VA loans

If you served our country, the VA has your back. You can get a loan with 100 percent financing (no down payment). As long as you prove you have enough money to cover your debts and living expenses, have 'decent' credit, and any discharge other than dishonorable, you're well on your way to buying your first home with a VA loan.

California USDA loans

If sunshine and low populated areas sound great to you, check out the California USDA loan. Borrowers with at least a 640 credit score and income that's less than 115% of the area's median income may be eligible for this no down payment program with low rates and closing costs.

First-Time Homebuyer Programs in California

The California Housing Agency helps first-time homebuyers with any credit score or qualifying factors secure financing. As long as you meet the income requirements, you may be eligible for the following:

  • CalHFA FHA or CalPlus FHA Loan
  • CalHFA VA Loan
  • CalHFA USDA Loan
  • CalHFA Conventional Loan or CalPlus Conventional Loan

Each is a 30-year fixed rate loan and can be combined with the MyHome Assistance Program which provides funds toward your down payment or closing costs usually at 0% interest. The loans are deferred until you sell or refinance the home.

The MyHome Assistance Program has a $10,000 cap and/or up to 3.5 percent of the sales price depending on the loan.

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