Who is a First Time Home Buyer in California?

Mortgage and Lending with Planatek Financial, Inc. CA DRE 01110003

Who is a First Time Home Buyer in California?


This might sound like a silly question with an obvious answer…


“Linda…a first time home buyer is someone who has never owned a home!”


This is a true answer but when it comes to qualifying for down payment assistance and mortgage tax credits in the State of California, it is not a complete answer.


Let me explain.

First Time Home Buyer Receives Keys To Home

Recognizing that home ownership provides stability for families and neighborhoods, and also recognizing that the hardest part of buying that first property is accumulating sufficient funds for a down payment, the State of California created several programs to assist First Time Home Buyers to move from renting to buying.  The most popular are the down payment assistance programs offered through CalHFA and NHF.


These programs are either a low interest loan representing 3% of a property purchase price or a grant in the same amount.  Income restrictions do apply since these programs are considered needs based.


Why is all of this important?  Because many people may not understand that the definition of First Time Homebuyer to qualify for these benefits has been expanded to include:


  • Any person who has not had an ownership interest in real property during the past 3 years.
Dollar Sign in House
Additionally and not so widely known are the Mortgage Credit Certificates  which are also only available to First Time Home Buyers.  These programs convert 15% – 20% of the annual mortgage interest from a tax deduction to a tax credit.  Moreover, a lender can use the credit amount as income to help qualify a First Time Home Buyer for a mortgage.


Who can benefit?


  • If you are a Buy Again buyer who has been through a foreclosure or short sale and have met the minimum waiting period to qualify for a mortgage, you are also defined as a First Time Home Buyer.


  • If you sold your home more then 3 years ago and have been renting during that time, you are defined as a First Time Home Buyer.


  • And of course, if you have never owned a home, then you are a First Time Home Buyer.


If this describes you and you want to explore the help available for buying a home, CALL ME at (714) 403-2603 or send me a message to Linda@LindaOnLending.com.  We’ll have a conversation about your goals, I’ll ask you about your current circumstances and run some numbers to see how to get you qualified to become a homeowner.

Comments (3)

Chuck Carstensen
RE/MAX Results - Elk River, MN
Minnesota/Wisconsin Real Estate Expert

Yes, the first time buyer just needs to have not bought or sold a home in 3 years...

Nov 19, 2012 10:33 PM
Lanise Warrior-Johnson
Real Estate Brokers Services, Inc. - Compton, CA
Real Estate Specialist

Yes, I think many people who have previously owned before (more than 3 years ago) do not realize that they are dconsidered first time buyers!

Nov 19, 2012 11:24 PM
Linda Piper
Planatek Financial, Inc. - Ventura, CA

Chuck:  absolutely right...thank you.


Lanise:  I think this represents a huge opportunity for us in the coming years...thank you for your feedback.

Nov 19, 2012 11:28 PM