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California Dream Downpayment Assistance to first-time homebuyers

Here's what you need to know before the state opens up the lottery on April 3.

The State of California is about to open up its lottery system for the California Dream For All program. It's a taxpayer-funded downpayment assistance program that could allow prospective homebuyers to borrow a 20% down payment from the state to buy their first home. 

The program ran out of money in just 11 days last year. This year, it will be a lottery system instead of first come, first served. The lottery opens up on April 3, 2024.  Although it's called "Dream For All," there is only about $250 million available, which means less than 2,000 prospective homeowners will get this help.

The first thing you need to do is check out the requirements on the state's website: calhfa.Ca.Gov/dream. There you will find all of the requirements.  You must be a first-time home buyer, you must meet income requirements and be a first-generation home buyer.

“That would mean that at least one of the borrowers’ parents could not have owned a home. So this is trying to get people into homes because they need a little bit of help and they need help generationally,” said Tracy Campagna and Michael Cain. They are the San Diego Mortgage Couple, a state-approved lender for the Dream For All Program.

As far as the income requirements are concerned, in San Diego County it’s a maximum annual income of $185,000 per family and a minimum credit score of 660. If you meet the requirements, you need to get pre-approved by a state-approved lender which means gathering documents including:

“At least one month of pay stubs, two years of W-2's, two years of tax returns, two months of bank statements, and a copy of your ID,” said Campagna.

Once you receive a pre-approval letter from the lender, you are required to take an online class on the state’s “Dream For All” website, which takes about an hour.

"From there you would get a certificate generated, and you would send that to your lender, so us, and then we fill out a little form. We give that to you and then from there you take that form and you upload it and then you register to be in the lottery,” said Campagna.

If selected, you can be given a maximum amount of $150,000 to apply toward a downpayment on a home. The downpayment money will have to be paid back if you sell, refinance, or transfer the home, or at the end of the term of the loan.  Not only do you have to pay back the downpayment, but you also have to give the state of California 20% of the equity you have earned.


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