A Guide to First-Time Home Buyer Programs, Loans, and Grants

A Guide to First-Time Home Buyer Programs, Loans, and Grants

  • Robert Parker
  • 09/4/23

California is home to almost 40 million people, with every person living in a different community that matches their unique lifestyle. Less than 20,000 of those people are lucky enough to call Albany home.

Considered one of California's best suburbs to live in, this trendy town sits across from the Golden Gate Bridge on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. The family-friendly area boasts an urban/suburban feel, offering chic boutiques, cozy corner coffee shops, upscale eateries, and a vibrant after-hours scene.

The school district in Albany is highly rated, and beautiful parks, such as the Albany Bulb, offer plenty of space for unwinding and enjoying outdoor activities. The breathtaking panoramic views from luxury homes in Albany Hill are awe-inspiring, with eucalyptus and oak trees lining the landscape that overlooks the Bay area. These trees attract overwintering monarch butterflies on their annual winter migration path.

Median home price in Albany, California

In June 2023, the Bay East Association of Realtors® reported 7,724 available housing units in Albany. Only six houses were listed for sale, selling after less than 10 days on the market. The average price per square foot was $1,179, and the median sales price for June 2023 was $1,300,500, with buyers paying an average of 130% of the list price. These statistics make clear that competition for purchasing a property in Albany is fierce, but with the help of the Parker George Team, it is not impossible.

As a first-time home buyer, Albany real estate may have you feeling bewildered yet undoubtedly filled with excitement. While the process can be confusing, the expert team at Parker George does everything we can to make the journey easier and, dare we say, fun!

A first-time home buyer's guide to purchasing a home in Albany, California

Robert Parker of The Parker George Team has extensive experience helping first-time home buyers and understands the current market trends in Albany and the surrounding communities. As a licensed real estate agent, he is committed to providing personalized services to help you find your dream home.

Our step-by-step guide will help you better understand the home-buying process. As a first-time home buyer, you can expect to experience the following steps to ensure a smooth transaction:

1. Research.
2. Obtain mortgage loan pre-approval.
3. Locate the right property.
4. Perform due-diligence.
5. Make an offer.
6. Go into escrow.

Once the final paperwork is signed, it will take several days for funding to go through. When the bank sends the check, you will receive the keys to your new home, and your journey as a first-time home buyer will have been a success.

Alameda County first-time homebuyer programs

Alameda County, where Albany is located, offers several first-time homebuyer programs. Depending on availability, the county maintains down payment assistance, silent second mortgages, and below-market housing units to assist residents in purchasing a home.

AC Boost: Alameda County's down payment assistance loan program

The AC Boost program offers down payment assistance to first-time home buyers in Albany, California. Qualified applicants can borrow up to $210,000 in a shared appreciation loan to purchase an owner-occupied residence in Alameda County. No payments are due throughout the loan term, making homeownership more affordable. A new application period opens in the late summer or early fall. A lottery drawing will determine the random order of eligible pre-applications, and participants must attend a mandatory homeownership workshop.

Designed to assist middle-income households, the interest-free loans offered by AC Boost do not have to get paid back until one of the following events occurs:

1. The 30-year mortgage term ends.
2. The home gets sold.
3. The owner refinances the original mortgage loan.
4. The owner no longer wants to occupy the home.

Upon repayment, the property owner must repay the amount they originally borrowed plus a proportional share of the home's increased value.

State homebuyer assistance programs for first-time home buyers in Albany

California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) offers several homebuyer assistance programs for first-time home buyers in Albany. Each program has unique eligibility criteria, dependent upon household income and financial verification.

Government loans for first mortgages

  • CalHFA FHA Loan Program: FHA-insured, 30-year fixed interest rate.
  • CalPLUS FHA Loan Program: FHA-insured, slightly higher interest rate, 30-year fixed term. It is combined with the CalHFA Zero Interest (ZIP) Program for closing costs.
  • CalHFA VA Loan Program: VA-insured loan, 30-year fixed interest rate.
  • CalHFA USDA Program: USDA-guaranteed, 30-year fixed interest rate. It can be combined with the MyHome Assistance Program.

Conventional loans for first mortgages

  • CalHFA Conventional Loan Program: Insured through private mortgage insurance, 30-year fixed interest rate.

  • CalPUS Conventional Loan Program: Slightly higher interest rate. It is combined with CalHFA ZIP for closing costs.

Down Payment Assistance (DPA) programs

CalHFA offers several options for closing costs and down payment assistance through the MyHome Assistance Program. Often referred to as a subordinate loan or silent seconds, repayment gets deferred until the house is sold, paid in full, or refinanced.

  • CalHFA Government Loans (FHA): Borrow up to the lesser of 3.5% of the appraised value or purchase price to use towards a down payment, closing costs, or both.

  • CalHFA Conventional Loans: Borrow up to the lesser of 3% of the appraised value or purchase price to assist with closing costs, a down payment, or both.

MyHome Assistance Program eligibility requirements

  • Be a first-time homebuyer.
  • Occupy the property as your primary residence.
  • Complete a homebuyer education counseling course.
  • Meet CalHFA income limits for the program ($292,000 as of 7/7/2023 for Alameda County).
  • Look to buy a property that is a single-family, one-unit residence (includes approved condos/PUDs). Manufactured housing is permissible.
CalHFA only deals with approved lenders and will not work directly with consumers. A loan officer can provide more information about these valuable programs. To apply, you will need to present pay stubs, bank statements, employment history, and tax returns.

CalHFA Dream for All Shared Appreciation Loan Program

The CalHFA Dream for All Shared Application Loan Program provides down payment and closing cost assistance for first-time homebuyers. The program is not currently accepting new applications but anticipates re-opening the program in the fall of 2023, as the 2023-24 California State Budget recently approved $200 million in program assistance.

Help is available for first-time homebuyers in Albany, California

A first-time homebuyer is an individual who has not owned a home in the last three years. This means even if you previously owned a home, you may still be able to take advantage of these programs.

Robert Parker has the knowledge and expertise to help first-time homebuyers find their dream home in Albany, California. He can guide you through the entire process, helping you find the assistance programs you need to make owning property in Albany a reality.


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Let us be your guide towards your next transition! We help first-time buyers and sellers, those that are looking for either more space or to downsize, and people looking to expand their investment portfolio.

Work With Us

Let us be your guide towards your next transition! We help first-time buyers and sellers, those that are looking for either more space or to downsize, and people looking to expand their investment portfolio.

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