PRMG Sacramento Loan Officer Shelly Haines easily establishes real connections with her clients thanks to her warm personality and big laugh. Not only does the personal touch help her understand first-time homebuyers, but it also makes her job more meaningful bringing her great satisfaction in helping first-time homebuyers live their American Dream. During her 30-year career, she has become a CalHFA Preferred Loan Officer (PLO) by closing countless CalHFA loans in the Sacramento area, helping locals discover that they can, in fact, afford a down payment on a house — a process she finds greatly rewarding. “The clients I most remember are my first-time homebuyers, the people who use the CalHFA down payment assistance program,” she said. “Those are the clients who are most appreciative and grateful, and they’re just so happy to own a house.”
CalHFA is the California Housing Finance Authority and helps thousands of homebuyers in California make affordable financing solutions with special features such as down payment and closing cost assistance. CalHFA works in conjunction with several lenders throughout the state to provide more California residents with their own residences. CalHFA uses a network of Preferred Loan Officers (PLOs) to help market and sell its products to low- and moderate-income homebuyers. The agency invites loan officers to become PLOs after purchasing at least eight first mortgages from them in a six month period. These loan officers must work for an approved lender or broker loans through one, participate in annual trainings and demonstrate high levels of knowledge about mortgages and loan processes. PLOs are provided sales leads from the hundreds of phone calls and web hits received by CalHFA each month. Interested loan officers can go online at www.calhfa.ca.gov to learn more about CalHFA’s programs, including the down payment assistance program. “I am a big fan of the program,” Haines said. “It helps people who don’t think they can get in a home, get in a home.
Haines runs through a list of pros and cons associated with different types of loans based on a number of factors, such as the homebuyer’s budget, employment and credit history. That information helps her identify whether clients are eligible for the CalHFA down payment assistance program — often the first step toward homeownership. As a CalHFA Preferred Loan Officer, Haines was invited to answer a few questions regarding the benefits and misconceptions of the CalHFA program below.
Why do you think CalHFA loans are a good option for first-time homebuyers?
Haines: The great thing about the program is that it fits all sorts of different buyers. They make it so easy, it’s crazy to me that people don’t do it more often.
Are people generally aware of the down payment assistance program?
Haines: The biggest problem is that people just don’t know about it. A lot of times, maybe even the real estate agent doesn’t know about the program, and then the homebuyer may not have all the information.
Q: Do potential homebuyers have misconceptions that CalHFA loans take longer than other loans, or involve jumping through more hoops?
Haines: Usually homebuyers don’t think that, but sometimes sellers and real estate agents think that it might take longer, which is a myth. If you’re working with an experienced loan officer that specializes in CalHFA, you can easily close the loan within 20 or 30 days, if not sooner. Sometimes, the seller might think that it’s too expensive, or that they will lose money if they participate in the down payment assistance program, which is also a myth. The program can cover all the closing costs, so they’re not out anything.
Q: Is the down payment often the biggest hurdle for first-time homebuyers to clear?
Haines: Yes. I tell clients all the time: “If you can comfortably budget the house payment but you just don’t have the down payment and closing costs saved up, this program is perfect for you. You’d be crazy not to do it.”
Learn more about the CalHFA program here.
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