What is CalHFA

Down Payment Help for First-Time Buyers

Central Coast Lending offers first-time homebuyers loans for up to 3% of the purchase price to assist with completion of down payment and closing costs. The low-interest rate loan is placed in junior position and repayment is “deferred” until the first loan is repaid, the home is sold, or the home’s title is transferred.


The California Housing Finance Agency (Cal
HFA) offers the loan under the California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP).

Benefits You’ll Love About CalHFA

Enjoy down payments as low as 3.5% of the home’s purchase price

Qualify with no maximum income limitation

Qualify for an FHA home loan even without a long credit history

No prepayment penalty

Information on CalHFA

Below, you will find expandable sections that give you information on CalHFA. If you are ready to apply for a loan, click here and it will take you to our secure online application. If you still have questions, our loan officers are just a phone call away (805.543.LOAN)

Down Payment Assistance

We offer the following low down payment options for popular loan programs:

In some cases, buyers can make up what they can’t afford with a gift from a relative. Read our complete guide to gift giving here.

Beyond these down payment options, the CalHFA offers an excellent solution for first-time buyers to cover parts of their remaining down payment and closing costs. The program offers financing in the amount of 3% of the home’s purchase price or appraised value(whichever is lower). The loan is a “silent” second that will sit untouched until repayment is required:

  • First loan is repaid.
  • Home is sold.
  • Title is transferred.

Once repayment is triggered, borrowers repay the loan like any other. Interest rates are low and vary based on borrower financial circumstances, lender fees, and other factors.

Property Requirements

For San Luis Obispo County, the home’s price cannot exceed $634,615 for both new and existing homes.*

Other qualifications include:

  • Build: Single-family, one-unit residence. Condominium and PUD eligible.
  • Size: 5 acre maximum
  • Inhabitance: Owner-occupied. Must occupy property as primary residence within 60 days of purchase close.
  • Quality: Home must be ready to occupy.

Not Eligible:

  • Homes with additional units (guest houses, granny units, etc)
  • Manufactured homes

* Targeted Areas

The CHFA grants exemptions from income and property restrictions in low-income “targeted areas” to promote economic development. The sole “targeted area” in San Luis Obispo County is the 109.01 census tract, which is roughly to the east of Highway 1/Santa Rosa and North of Highway 101. Boulevard. Here, the eligible sales price rises to $775,641.

Borrower Qualifications

To qualify for the CalHFA loan, the borrower mustn’t have owned a home within the past three years (also referred to here as a “first-time buyer”).

Other qualifications include:

  • Income Limits: $63,350 (one person household), $72,400 (two person household), $81,450 (three person household) $90,500 (four person household), $97,750 (five person household), $105,000 (six person household)
  • Debt-to-Income: 45% total DTI.
  • Credit Score: 640+ FICO. Requirements may vary slightly based on Loan-to-Value (LTV).
  • Education: Must complete 8-hour education course.

From the CHF guidelines: “Family income is defined as the annualized gross income of a mortgagor and any other person who is expected to be liable on the mortgage, be vested in the title, and live in the residence being financed.”

Mortgage Requirements

The CalHFA program may be “layered” with other loan programs and special offers to best facilitate the home purchase.


The CalHFA loan may be used to cover closing costs and down payment, but the borrower must still invest a minimum amount of cash up-front. For borrowers with a FICO credit score between 640-679, the minimum investment is $1,500, and for 680+ the minimum investment is $1,000.

Other specifications include:

  • Loan-to-Value: Cannot exceed 103%
  • Term: Cannot exceed 30 years. Matches term of first loan.
  • Payment: Deferred for the life of the first loan. Triggered when first-loan repayment complete, home is sold, or title is transferred.
  • Gifts: May be used to cover minimum investment costs.
  • Non-Occupant Co-Signor: Not eligible for conventional loans. Eligible for FHA, but co-signor cannot occupy property, be on title, or have a vested interest in the property.
  • Layering: Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) may be used (but cannot be used for qualifying help). May be layered with FHA, VA, USDA, conventional, or other CalFHA programs.

Step 1. Get Pre-Approved.

How Does Pre-Approval Work?

Getting pre-approved is as easy as 1-2-3!

1. Create an Account

Creating an account is fast, easy, secure and FREE! Your account enables you to easily modify your loan application and view the status of your loan anytime day or night.

2. Submit Information

When you register for a Loan Center account, you can submit a loan application online and the sensitive information that you provide will be transmitted securely.

3. Get Pre-Approved

Kick your feet up while we crunch the numbers. Pre-approval can be done very quickly if you provide a complete and accurate loan application and supporting documentation.

You have questions? We have answers.
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