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California ‘Dream for All’ Down Payment Assistance: Updated for 2024

The California Dream For All program aims to make homeownership accessible to first-time home buyers through down payment assistance. Administered by CalHFA, the program offers up to 20% of the home purchase price for down payment or closing costs, with a maximum of $150,000.

This government-backed program was specifically designed to assist first-time home buyers in California. It offers down payment assistance for those who qualify, making the dream of homeownership a reality for more Californians.

Important note: The registration portal is now open but will close at the end of April 2024. So don’t hesitate. Act now if you’d like to apply for down payment assistance through the California Dream for All program. Contact us if you have questions. Here’s a link to the application portal.

California Dream for All: Down Payment Assistance

The “Dream For All Shared Appreciation Loan” works alongside the Dream For All Conventional first mortgage, providing support for down payment and/or closing costs.

This program offers assistance of up to 20% for down payment or closing costs, with a cap of $150,000. Upon the sale or transfer of the home, the original down payment loan must be repaid, along with a portion of the appreciation in the home’s value.

Example: Dream For All provides a loan for 20% to a moderate-income home buyer to help facilitate their purchase. The homeowner eventually pays back the original loan amount plus 20% of any appreciation in the value of the home.

Home buyers must register for a voucher using the link provided above. There is only a certain amount of money to go around, so not everyone will qualify for a voucher. Selection will be made through a randomized drawing, rather than first-come first-served.

Minimum Requirements, Updated for 2024

Applications are not accepted directly by CalHFA. Instead, applicants must seek out a CalHFA approved Lender, who will assess eligibility and process the application.

Please contact Bridgepoint Funding if you have questions.

In general, borrowers must meet certain eligibility criteria for all CalHFA programs:

  • Credit requirements, including minimum credit scores, are determined by the CalHFA-approved lender and the mortgage insurer.
  • Income limits set by CalHFA must be met.
  • Borrowers must intend to occupy the purchased property as their primary residence.
  • Completion of home buyer education counseling through an eligible organization is mandatory for CalHFA borrowers.

The California Dream for All loan program is primarily intended for home buyers who have low or moderate income, which can vary by county. To qualify for this program, you will need to meet the income limits for the county where you want to buy a home.

Home Buyer Education Course

CalHFA emphasizes the importance of education and counseling for first-time home buyers. Because of this, at least one borrower on each loan transaction is required to complete a home buyer education and counseling course.

The course must be taken through an approved provider. Options include an online course offered by eHome or in-person/virtual courses offered by NeighborWorks America or any HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency.

First-Time and ‘First-Generation’ Home Buyers

The California Dream for All down payment assistance program is intended for first-time home buyers. But CalHFA has a fairly broad definition for a “first-time” buyer.

They define it as someone who has “not owned and occupied their home in the last three years, and who has not lived in a home owned by a spouse in the past three years.” So, if it has been at least three years since you’ve owned a home, you could still qualify.

Additionally, at least one borrower involved in the transaction must be a first-generation home buyer, which includes criteria related to ownership history and parental ownership.

In short, a “first-generation” home buyer is someone who:

  • Hasn’t owned, held interest in, or been on a mortgage for a home in the U.S. in the past 7 years, AND…
  • To their knowledge, their parents don’t currently own a home in the U.S. or, if deceased, didn’t own a home at the time of death, OR…
  • Has been in foster care or institutional care at any time.

Applicants are encouraged to thoroughly review the eligibility criteria and seek guidance from a qualified mortgage professional for personalized assistance.

How to Get Started

Getting started with the California Dream For All program is straightforward:

Step 1. Find a lender

Talk to a CalHFA-approved mortgage lender who is offering the Dream For All program. Work with your loan officer to determine what you need to do to secure a California Dream For All (DFA) Lender Pre-Approval Letter. You’ll need this letter in order to register for a DFA voucher before the end-of-April deadline.

Step 2. Take the course

Take the 1-hour California Dream For All education course, which explains shared appreciation and how it affects your mortgage repayment. You can take this course online, free of charge. Visit to get signed up and learn about shared appreciation now.

Step 3. Gather your documents

You’ll need to gather a few documents to complete the application process. Required documents include the following items:

  • California Dream For All (DFA) Lender Pre-Approval Letter
  • Government ID: Passports, driver’s license, state-issued ID, military ID, permanent residence cards, visas or employment authorization documents
  • Proof of current address: Government ID, utility bill, cell phone bill, insurance bill, voter registration or car registration
  • Foster care documentation (if applicable): Foster Care Verification Form/Letter or court documents

If you plan on using multiple borrowers, you should collect documents from each borrower for the Voucher Application process.

Mike Trejo is a Bay Area mortgage broker with 20+ years of knowledge and experience.

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