Even if home affordability isn’t at an all time low, it’s still pretty close. The last few weeks I’ve been railing against the increasing unaffordability of housing in the region. As a result, I’ve started to research policies and programs throughout the country that can – and should – be in place in California, generally, and Solano & Napa counties specifically. But first, I thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at what’s currently available. Sometimes there are difficulties getting the information on available programs disseminated. To that end, here are some great resources in the area to help with first time homebuyers.

Napa County – Proximity Workforce Housing

I honestly think that this is one of the best programs available in the area. The intent was to provide downpayment assistance that will allow individuals who work in Napa County, to live in Napa County. The amount of assistance offered can’t be more than 10% of the purchase price up to 10% above the median sales price. For example, in 2021, the median sales price in American Canyon was $714,327. That means that the maximum purchase price to still be eligible is $785,759; so, the most that an individual could receive in assistance would be $78,575. For more information on the program, click here.

American Canyon & Napa First Time Home Buyer Assistance

Both American Canyon and Napa have first time home buyer assistance programs. American Canyon’s maximum purchase price remains frustratingly low at $569,000. Since March 1, 2020 only 101 out of 278 homes sold for that low of a price. Since January 1, 2021 only 44 homes have sold at or below $569,000 (or 29.5%). Barring a major correction in housing prices (which no serious expert believes is coming), this disparity will only get worse. Regardless, the program is enough to get a family’s foot in the door (for now). You can find out more about eligibility and the program here.

Community Housing Development Corp

The City of Vallejo has partnered with the CHDC out of Richmond to have a first time home buyer program. This program is geared towards low-income borrowers (50%-80% of the Area Median Income). The big one is that the borrowers debt-to-income ration must be no greater than 38%. For comparison, most lending standards are somewhere around 43%. What makes this program really interesting is that there is the potential for a grant of up to 3% towards recurring and non-recurring closing costs…which means that the borrower doesn’t have to pay it back. That’s pretty cool. Here’s a little bit more about the program.

City of Fairfield

Traditionally, the City of Fairfield does participate in a number of first time home buyer programs, including down payment assistance. They work through the CalHOME program which offers down payment assistance as well as assistance with closing costs. Unfortunately, there is a big bold note on the City’s Affordable Housing site which says that the 3 programs that they participate in are on hold until further notice. It’s worth giving them a call, however; you never know if the site just is not maintained as often as it could be.

CalHFA

On a state level, the California Housing Finance Agency also has programs for first time home buyers. They have both FHA-type loans as well as a conventional loan package. It’s absolutely worth checking out to see if you can qualify for assistance with a conventional loan using a CalHFA. There are, as ever, minimum credit standards (660) and generally you should have a 45% debt-to-income ration. Loan limits will depend on which county you’re looking to buy in. It’s still a good program and worth looking into.

I know that there are still more first time home buyer programs out there. Your lender should be able to direct you. Also, many lenders and banks have their own first time home buyer programs or they may help with closing costs. See what you can negotiate.

One thing to keep in mind, is that even in this ultra-competitive market, there are still FHA & VA loans winning in multiple offer situations. After all, once escrow closes, it’s all cash to the seller.

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