Marc Phu, Home Buyer in Los Angeles, CA

Resources for first time home buyers in Los Angeles, CA?

Asked by Marc Phu, Los Angeles, CA Sat Nov 14, 2009

I'm looking for financial assistance on buying my first home in Los Angeles. What are the good resources to tap into for more information?

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Eric Smilay, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Wed Nov 18, 2009
I would recommend that you contact me, so I can refer you to my mortgage broker. He is the absolute best in the city. He is extremely honest, hard working, and always closes the deal. I also find that he is willing to answer as many questions as a buyer has, and therefore, easy to work with. I have closed over two dozen loans with him, including my own, so if looking for a great lender, I have a guy for you.

Let me know if you would like me to send you any properties for you to look at.

Best Wishes,

Eric Smilay
Web Reference:
0 votes
Michelle Dol…, , Los Angeles, CA
Sun Nov 15, 2009
Hi Marc,

I'd like to invite you to a first time buyer's seminar I'm holding in Santa Monica on Wednesday, December 9th from 7 - 8:30 p.m. There will be real estate and lending experts on hand to fully explain and outline the process of buying your first home. This would be a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about the loan process, and opportunities that are currently available to prospective first-time home buyers.

Please give me a call or email me and I will put you on the list, and give you all the details.

All the best,

Michelle Dolon
Keller Williams Santa Monica
310-570-9231 - Direct
0 votes
M.D.J, , Los Angeles, CA
Sun Nov 15, 2009
Lot's of good advice and links given to you already so what I would also recommend is to do some onlilne searches related to your particular scenario and see what else comes up.

If you need any translation on these different financing possibilities let me know.

Good luck to you.
0 votes
Jenny A. Le, , California
Sun Nov 15, 2009

On Thursday, December 17, 2009, there will be a FREE community service, content packed Homeownership Empowerment Seminar at the Pasadena Public Library. I encourage you to attend the event as your will gain lots of additional knowledge, resources about homeownership. Qualified professionals will be available to answer your questions.

Location: || 6:30PM - 8:00PM

In the mean time, research the following sites for financial assistance information:

Should you have any question, please contact me:
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Jane Peters, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Nov 15, 2009
Marc, you have been given some great resources here. I would firstly ask what do you do? Depending on your employment there are some great loans out there geared to certain employment fields.

I won't repeat all the information here, but will wish you luck in your endeavor. It is your first step to building financial stability.

Jane Peters
Web Reference:
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Deborah Brem…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Nov 15, 2009
Hi again Marc:
One other thing I forgot to mention:
The state agency created by the legislature in California to offer first time home buyer programs is the California Housing Finance Agency.

The CHDAP offers down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers who meet specified moderate income limits.

How The Program Works:
The CHDAP provides a deferred-payment junior loan – up to 3% of the purchase price, or appraised value, whichever is less – to qualified borrowers to be used for their down payment or closing costs. This junior loan may be combined with a CalHFA or non-CalHFA first mortgage loan. This junior loan can not be combined with the Extra Credit Teacher Program (ECTP) or the Homeownership In Revitalization Areas Program (HIRAP).

For complete details on these first time home buyer programs available to California residents, the contact information is:

CalHFA Homeownership Division
P.O. Box 4034 , Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: 800.789.2432

You should also visit the California Housing Finance Agency website.

Deborah Bremner
Certified Short Sale Professional
Coldwell Banker Brentwood West
11999 San Vicente Blvd. Suite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(D) 310.571.1364
(C) 310.422.4288
(F) 310.820.1457
Blogging at:
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Deborah Brem…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Nov 15, 2009
Hi Marc:
First of all, congratulations on becoming a Los Angeles homeowner. You could not have chosen a better time; affordability is at an all time high, interest rates are at record lows, and the $8000 tax credit has been extended into the spring.
If I'm understanding you correctly, you want to understand the ins and outs of the financing end of purchasing your first home. Great question, because your financial pre- approval is the underpinning and first step to your home search.
My recommendations are as follows:
1. Get yourself a great, trustworthy mortgage broker. A mortgage broker differs from an institutional banker (such as Wells Fargo or B of A) in that they shop all lenders on your behalf to get the best rate and terms. Sit down with them for a confidential interview and discuss every aspect of your financial situation. A good mortgage broker will tell you what documents you need to have for your first meeting (including salaried or non-salaried income statements, pay stubs, miscellaneous income, assets, and debts) and during your initial interview, will be able to provide you with about five or six scenarios for your home purchase.
How do you find a great mortgage broker? It's a good idea to ask your Realtor for recommendations, and then interview to see who is the best fit. Find out how long they have been in the business, what their closed ratio is, etc., before you agree to give them any of your financial information.
2. Make sure you understand the options in loans out there, based on your purchase price. Your Realtor and mortgage broker should work hand in hand to help you find a loan program that fits both your financial situation and your home buying needs. Be sure you understand the current rates, what rates are doing (moving up or down) on a week to week basis (this affects affordability) and the overall costs of the loan involved. A great mortgage broker and Realtor will give you an up front good faith estimate of your closing costs. (what it will really cost you at the point of sale.)
What's the best loan for you? That depends on a number of factors, including:
How long you’ll stay in the home;
How much money you’ll put down;
How you’ll finance the closing costs.
3. Keep these tips in mind as you go through the process:
Establish good credit.
Raise your credit score
Save for a down payment & closing costs.
Keep detailed records of money spent and debts repaid.
Develop a financial plan.
Maintain a working relationship with a Realtor Buyer's Agent.
Learn your area's market values.

I'd like to offer you several resources to explore:
On my website, you'll find guides and tools expressly for the first time homebuyer.
1: guide to help buyers with the process.
2: is a directory of tools to help first time buyers, including q&a and calculators.
3: is a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the mortgage process, which I know you will find useful.
4: are financial calculators that will give you a snapshot of your situation, prior to meeting your mortgage broker.

If you need more resources, let me know, and I will be happy to point you in the right direction. After you've done your research, please call me for a referral of mortgage brokers in your area. In addition, I specialize as a first time Buyer's Agent, and I've been a Realtor in Los Angeles for 33 years. I'd be happy to assist you in any way that I can. Best of luck.
Deborah Bremner
Certified Short Sale Professional
Coldwell Banker Brentwood West
11999 San Vicente Blvd. Suite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(D) 310.571.1364
(C) 310.422.4288
(F) 310.820.1457
Blogging at:
0 votes
Lauren Sulli…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Nov 15, 2009
Financial resources can come from many avenues. If you are working with a Realtor I would start by asking them for references. Agents typically have relationships with many different lenders, all of whom are eager to keep your agent happy. They may only do one deal with you, but they have the potential to do hundreds of transactions with your Realtor, and therefore lots of incentive to do a good and ethical job for you as their client. Also, through years of experience, Realtors know which lenders are the ones who get the job done, deliver what they promise and have the fairest closing costs. This information can be invaluable. Next, I would check with the institution where you do your daily banking. They may have home lending options that are competitve and have incentive to keep your business in-house. Speaking with a mortgage broker is often insightful as well. Mortgage brokers don't just work under one bank and therefore can be one-stop shopping when it comes to different bank rates, as well as different bank rules. Finally, referrals from your friends and family can also be helpful in leading you in a good direction.

Navigating different bank's rules and interest rates can be tricky, especially while trying to keep your personal information private and your credit score up. I am not sure if you know the difference between a Pre-Qualification and a Pre-Approval, so I will discuss it briefly here. A Pre-Qualification means that you have spoken with a bank about your financial situation - your taxes, your paystubs, your credit score and your savings amounts - and that based on the information you gave them verbally, you are qualified at that bank for a certain interest rate and loan amount. A Pre-Approval means that in addition to this, the bank has physically seen the data to support your claims - has seen your taxes, your paystubs, your bank statements and has run your credit. A Pre-Approval is what you want and need because not only does today's Sellers expect it to accompany any offers to purchase a home, but it is also the only way to get an accurate sense of what a bank can really offer you in terms of interest rates and loan terms. Anything else is just an estimate. Compounding the problem is that interest rates change every day. So although a bank can give you a quote today for what you may qualify for, until you actually lock the loan that rate is subject to change. It may go down, which would be great for you or it may go up, which would be not so great. The best thing to do is to compare rates, terms and closing costs at each of the banks, just be aware that if you aren't comparing on the same day, these rates may be harder to compare accurately.

A few things to keep in mind:
- You want to look at the whole package at a bank, not just the interest rates. The terms of the loan and the closing costs are just as important as the interest rates. Many banks offer lower interest rates up front to get you in the door, only to charge higher closing costs in return.
- Make sure you are comparing "apples to apples". When comparing bank's interest rates, make sure you are comparing the same loan amount, the same loan type, the same terms and especially the same points.
- If you are deciding between different loan types, say Conventional vs. FHA, know that everything is give and take. FHA requires less down payment, but will charge you about twice as much in closing costs. Nobody, epecially a bank, gives something for nothing.
- As discussed, a bank can't accurately give you a quote without knowing your current credit score or looking at your taxes and paystubs. However, if you have your credit run at too many places it will lower your score. Therefore knowing your exact credit score today is incredibly useful (most banks use the median of the three credit union's scores) and try not to have it run too many places.
- Remember the old adage: if something sounds to good to be true, it usually is!!! Be wary of any banks that quote you a rate far below their competitors. Typically you will make up for that reduction somewhere else, either in a last minute rate switch or in over zealous closing costs.
- Honesty is everything. Keep a look out for instances when a lender or mortgage broker is being honest with you. Look for things like "this is just an estimate", or "today rates are ____". Those are good things! On the flip side be very wary of fales bravado and assurance.
- As a first time buyer you will need a lender who can explain the process to you, and how and why things work. Don't just look for a rate, look for a leader and a mentor.

If you are not already working with a Realtor and found my answer helpful, I would love to discuss more in depth what your goals are. My contact information is below. Best of luck.

Lauren Sullivan
Coldwell Banker -Brentwood West
0 votes
Peter Stewart, Agent, Indianapolis, IN
Sun Nov 15, 2009
Hi Marc,

Your best resource is a good real estate agent. I have several great lenders I can put you in touch with.

Are there any specific questions you have? I'd be happy to chat with you further. Feel free to contact me anytime. My contact information is below.


Peter Stewart
Keller Williams Realty Westside
0 votes
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