Oakland Bay Area Real Estate: Below Market Financing

By: Hamid Grinage

The Bay Area market is one of the highest priced markets in the country, so naturally it's more difficult for first time buyers to afford to buy here. Luckily, there are several programs that are being offered by various lenders that allow the borrower get a much better interest rate than they normally
would.

Two of these programs are ACORN and Cal HFA. Acorn is a non-profit organization that works with chosen lenders to provide below market interest rates to borrowers. Currently the Acorn program offers an interest rate on a 30 year fixed loan that is approximately 1/2 of a point lower than the current market rate. This means less interest charged to you, which in turn
means that you have more purchasing power than you would otherwise have.

There are certain guidelines for the program, such as income and purchase price limits, and borrowers must attend a free first time home buyer seminar to qualify. However, the guidelines are fairly lax and I always tell my first
time buyer clients that if you can qualify for the Acorn program you take advantage of it. No other lender program can match the rate that Acorn can offer.

Cal HFA also offers below market interest rates, and they even offer 3% loans for closing costs or down payment assistance that are "silent" which means that they do not have to be repaid until the home is sold or refinanced.

So if you are a first time buyer, make sure you ask your Realtor about whether or not you qualify for Acorn or Cal HFA, as they can save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest, and possibly allow you to spend more than you thought you could for your next home.

Interest rates in general are still near historical lows, which is why many are choosing to buy now instead of later. No one knows what the future holds, but serious buyers who are qualified can be assured that the interest rate they are getting is likely to be the best they can get for a long time to come. Most analysts agree that they probably won't go down much more, but they surely could go back up.

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