CalFHA Loans

Are you a first-time homebuyer? Finding the right mortgage can be intimidating. It’s a significant investment to buy a home, and the right mortgage can be a difference of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. If you happen to live in the state of California, you might be eligible for a CalHFA loan, a 30-year loan with a guaranteed low fixed interest rate designed for low-to-moderate-income borrowers.  Learn more about what you need to do to qualify and the different types of loans that CalHFA provides.

What Is CalHFA?

The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) is a completely self-supporting state agency that provides programs making it possible for low-to-moderate-income Californians to afford a mortgage. Founded in 1975, its Single-Family Division provides first mortgage loans and down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers.


What Is a CalHFA Loan?

For many first-time homebuyers, the down payment on your home loan can be one of the largest hurdles. That’s why CalHFA offers several options for down payment and closing cost assistance, often called a second or subordinate loan. The payments on a subordinate loan are deferred so you do not have to make a payment on this assistance until your home is sold, refinanced, or paid in full – keeping your monthly mortgage payment affordable.

Griffin Funding is an approved broker of CalHFA and can offer the program to any of our borrowers. Check out the different types of zero down payment mortgage programs we can help you secure.


CalHFA Programs

Depending on what kind of mortgage you are looking for, there are several different programs based on your needs, each with its own specifications.

MyHome Assistance Program 

  • Offers a deferred-payment junior loan of an amount up to the lesser of 3.0% or $15,000 when using with a CALUSDA or CalHFA or CalPLUS conventional mortgage. This amount is used to assist with a down payment and/or closing costs on the new home.
  • Offers a deferred-payment junior loan of an amount up to the lesser of 3.5% of the purchase price or appraised value with a CalHFA FHA, or CalPLUS FHA. This amount is used to assist with a down payment and/or closing costs on the new home.
  • Eligible properties include: New construction properties, manufactured homes, and single-family homes with an AUD
  • You are not subject to the $15,000 loan amount cap if you are either:
    • a school employee, defined as teachers, administrators, school district employees, and staff members working for any California K-12 public school, which includes Charter schools and county/continuation schools.
    • a Fire department employee, defined as firefighters, administrators, and all other state, federal, local, or tribal fire department employees.

For more information, here is the provided handbook.

CalPLUS with ZIP

This is a package of a fixed-rate mortgage with closing cost assistance.

CalPLUS Loan Terms

  • 30-year fixed interest rate
  • Follows qualifying guidelines of CalPLUS Conventional or FHA loan programs
  • Has exclusive access to ZIP – Zero Interest Program
  • Can be combined with ECTP – Extra Credit Teacher Program
  • Can be combined with MCC and/or EEM
  • Can be combined with MyHome Assistance Program
  • CalPLUS loans are not subject to a recapture tax

CalHFA ZIP is a deferred payment, zero-interest mortgage that is only available when used with the CalPLUS first mortgage program with down payment assistance to cover borrower closing costs.

  • ZIP Program Highlights
    • ZIP Assistance is 3% of the total first mortgage loan
    • Zero Interest for life of loan
    • Up to 3% in a deferred payment junior loan


A VA loan with a CalHFA fixed rate. This is a fully amortized 30-year loan that can be combined with the MyHome assistance program. VA loans are meant for veterans and service members.


A USDA loan with a CalHFA fixed rate. This is a fully amortized 30-year loan that can be combined with the MyHome assistance program. USDA loans are meant for homes in rural areas.

Can You Refinance a CalHFA loan?

Yes. While CalHFA is prohibited from offering refinances, other lenders can offer you a refinance.

Can You Do a Renovation Loan with CalHFA?

By applying for the limited 203(k) loan, you can acquire up to $35,000 for minor remodeling and minor structural repairs.

What is the difference between FHA and CalHFA?

An FHA loan is a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help first time buyers to buy a home. Low-income families have to put as little as 3.5% down in order to secure the loan. Because they are backed by the FHA, lenders take on less risk when offering these loans.

CalHFA is a program which provides FHA loans for families in California. It not only offers the government FHA loans, but also provides conventional loans backed through private mortgage insurance.

CalHFA Loan Requirements

In order to qualify for a CalHFA loan, you must meet several requirements:

  • The property must be in California and be the borrower’s primary residence until it’s sold or refinanced
  • In most cases, borrowers must be first-time homebuyers and U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or qualified aliens
  • Must have a minimum credit score of 640 and borrowers with no credit score are not permitted
  • Must meet all income and sales price requirements* of the lender and mortgage insurer
  • Must take an approved homebuyer education course and obtain a certificate of completion
  • Leaseholds/land trusts and co-ops not permitted
  • The property must be five acres or smaller in size
  • The home cannot exceed CalHFA’s sales price limits established for the county
  • The property must be defined as a one-unit property
  • There may be additional program-specific requirements

What Credit Score Do I Need for a CalHFA Loan?

To reiterate, you need at least a 640 credit score or higher, and those without credit will not be permitted. However, having a higher credit score may lead to better terms.

What Is the CalHFA Loan Limit?

As of January 1, 2022, the loan limit for conventional, VA, USDA, and FHA loans of $647,200. CalHFA maximum first mortgage base loan amount on the CalHFA VA is the FHFA High-Cost Loan Limit of $970,800.

What Is the Income Limit for a CalHFA Loan?

Depending on the county, the annual income limit changes. It starts with a limit of $139,00 in several counties such as Del Norte or Stanislaus county, up to an income of $248,000 in counties like Alameda or San Francisco county.

Do I Have to Pay Back a CalHFA Loan?

Yes, you do have to repay your CalHFA loan. However, there aren’t standard monthly payments like other types of mortgage loans.

Benefits of CalHFA Loans

  • Down payment and closing cost assistance available for low-to-moderate-income borrowers
  • Some condos, manufactured homes, and properties with guest houses or in-law quarters allowed
  • Become a California homeowner with no down payment.
  • Ability to qualify for a first-time loan with terms you may not have been able to qualify for without the CalHFA backing

Are CalHFA Loans Good?

This depends on your circumstance, but if you are looking for your first home and wouldn’t be able to afford a house otherwise, then using a CalHFA loan can provide the assistance you need. If you have any doubts or questions about whether this loan is right for you. You can speak with one of Griffin Funding’s knowledgeable loan specialists who can walk you through any questions you may have and assist you with the application process.

Apply for a CalHFA Loan Today

If you are a first-time home buyer from California, getting a CalHFA loan might be your ideal solution. Griffin Funding is a qualified CalHFA loan provider and our lending team is happy to help you secure your first home loan. Apply online today or give us a call at (855) 394-8288 or (855) 651-2871 to get the process started.


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