first_img This is essentially a bank operated by the state. It has 13 home-buying help programs, including down payment assistance and 30-year loans at below market rates. Last year, it funded $1.3 billion in home loans and there is a lot of air above that number, said Eric Johnson, a marketing specialist at the agency. About half the loans are made to Hispanic buyers, but the programs are mostly based on income limits rather than ethnicity. “Our programs are for people who otherwise would not be able to get in a house and we want to help them get in,” Johnson said. The programs include below-market-rate loans and down payment assistance. Its price limits are adjusted every six months and it processes loans at the same speed as big commercial lenders, Johnson said. They’d like more customers. “We’re not going to run out of money or personnel,” he said. www.realtor.com It’s the official site of the National Association of Realtors and one way to price-shop a variety of markets from home. The site includes links to other home-related sites. And it has a primer for buyers and sellers. www.car.org This is the California Association of Realtors site. It features monthly sales and price information from major markets around the state. www.hsh.com This is the site for the nation’s biggest tracker of mortgage-market information. It posts interest-rate information for markets across the country and calculators that will help you figure out how much of a house your income will buy. www.freddiemac.com and www.fanniemae.com These are the sites of the two major mortgage-market players and each features links to educational programs. They help buyers through their conforming loan limits. The two companies buy loans from lenders and the conforming limit is the maximum-size loan they will purchase. The limit is based on the October-to-October change in the average housing price. The current limit is $359,650 and it is sure to be raised in November. But it doesn’t offer much hope in California, though. For example, based on median prices, there is just one region in the state – the High Desert, which includes the Antelope Valley – where the limit comes into play. And houses for sale in every ZIP code in the Valley is well above the conforming limit. The state Realtors’ group is lobbying to get California a better shake. Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Jim Hamilton, president of the California Association of Realtors, said it’s a challenging shopping environment, even with help. “In many cases, the housing prices will outstrip the programs that are out there,” he said. And many programs are underused because people simply don’t know about them. Here are some links you might want to save for some future house-hunting assistance. And remember that in many instances you can qualify as a first-time buyer if you have not owned a home for three years. www.calhfa.ca.gov Help, both financial and educational, is available for people trying to buy their first home. The easy part is finding the help. The hard part in this high-priced market is finding a house that qualifies for the help. It’s possible, but you might have to make some compromises. They could include a long commute rather than living close to work, buying a property that needs rehabbing and doing it yourself or moving into a neighborhood known more for grit that glitz. last_img read more