Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

January 4, 2005 > Home, Sweet Home

Home, Sweet Home

First time homebuyer programs in the Tri-Cities

by Linda Stone

Everyone has a dream of home ownership; it is a reflection of success and security in our culture. Trying to buy a house in the Bay Area with its severe housing shortage and lack of affordable housing has left many without hope of making that dream come true. Despite these hurdles, there are several programs designed to help the first time homebuyer.

The city of Fremont offers a first time buyer program. Their Welcome Home Program enables families to buy their first home. Types of properties include a single-family home, townhouse or condominium anywhere within the city limits. Eligibility requirements are no previous home ownership within the last 36 months and whose gross annual income falls under the maximum. For example, a family of 4 qualifies if the annual income is $98,650 and under. For those who are income eligible, you can borrow up to $40,000 as a down payment. The required minimum the borrower is expected to pay is 3 percent.

Another program offered by the city is the Welcome to the Neighborhood Program. This program was designed to revitalize three targeted neighborhoods of Niles, Irvington and Centerville. Up to $10,000 or 25 percent of the loan amount is forgiven dollar-for-dollar matching costs for home improvement expenses within the first seven years of ownership. For example, a first time homebuyer with a family of four and a gross annual income of $98,650 can qualify for a maximum loan amount of $40,000. During the first seven years of ownership up to $10,000 or 25 percent of the loan amount is forgiven dollar-for-dollar to match cost for home improvement expenses.

The first step in qualifying for these programs is to enroll in their First Time Homebuyer Class. You can fill out an online application at the city's website The upcoming workshops are scheduled for Jan. 11, 18 and 25. After you complete the class you will receive a certificate, an eligibility letter and an Approved Lender List.

For further information on Fremont's first time homebuyer program, contact the Home Buyer Assistance Center at (510) 832-6925.

The cities of Fremont, Newark, Union City and Hayward offer loan programs through the Alameda County Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program. This program offers additional federal income tax relief to low and moderate-income first time homebuyers. This program helps a buyer qualify for a loan by reducing the rate effective or rate before taxes interest rate by approximately 1.5 percent. Potential buyers take 15 percent of the annual mortgage payments as a dollar-for dollar credit against their federal income taxes. The buyer then decreases their federal income tax withholdings based on the credit, thereby increasing their net income available to pay a mortgage.

Requirements for the MCC program are that a buyer may not have owned a principle residence within the last three years; buyer's total household income may not exceed $54,100 for a one or two person household or $69,920 for a three or more person household. The buyer must live in the house purchased with a MCC-assisted mortgage; the property must be new or existing single-family homes or duplexes only including detached homes, mobile homes, condominium and townhouses. The purchase price may not exceed $449.196 for new units and $337,051 for existing single-family units or $380,000 for existing duplexes.

For more information contact the Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department at (510) 670-5799.

Most cities in the Bay Area have a Community Reinvestment Act. The
Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires private banks and lenders to provide financing for a variety of community-improvement projects. They work with private lenders to provide favorable terms for mortgages to first-time homebuyers.

The California Housing Finance Agency (CHFA) provides various types of loans for the development and preservation of affordable housing. CHFA also provides loan assistance to eligible homebuyers. The Housing Enabled by Local Partnerships (HELP) program provides affordable housing opportunities through program partnerships with local government entities consistent with local housing priorities.

California Homebuyer's Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP) offers a deferred-payment junior loan of an amount up to the lesser of three percent of the purchase price or appraised value. Homebuyers are able to use these funds to help with their downpayment and closing costs without the need to make monthly payments on the loan. Interest will be calculated at 3 percent simple interest. The assistance may be combined with any CalHFA or non-CalHFA conventional or government first mortgage loan.
Homebuyers using a CalHFA first mortgage may combine the assistance with a CalHFA Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) loan, High Cost Area Home Purchase Assistance Program (HiCAP) loan and with other downpayment assistance programs offered by local government agencies and nonprofit organization, if the subordinate program is pre-approved by CalHFA. The CHDAP loan cannot be combined with loans under CalHFA's Extra Credit Teacher Program and HIRAP.

The CHDAP is available on a statewide basis for first-time homebuyers purchasing a single family residence anywhere in California, that is within CalHFA's sales price limits, is intended as their primary residence, and whose family income does not exceed the Program's moderate income limit requirements. Homebuyers must also meet all first mortgage eligibility requirements according to the lender, investor, mortgage insurer, or guarantor criteria.

Homebuyers interested in applying for financing, should contact one of CalHFA's approved lenders. For more information you can visit their website at

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