CHFA Mortgage

Buying a home in Denver

Denver, Colorado is a great place to call home, and it’s easy to see why. With its mild climate, gorgeous mountain views, world-class outdoor recreation, and vibrant culture, Denver has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for an urban lifestyle in the city or a more relaxed suburban feel in the suburbs, there’s something for everyone in Denver.

Living and working in Denver, Colorado metro area can provide an amazing quality of life. The only thing that could make it better is actually owning property where you live and play! As anyone who has lived or worked in the Denver metro area now knows, the Denver housing market has experienced a striking rise in home prices and demand. The average price of a home is more than $580,000 which is a growth rate of 46.2% over the last 5 years! This growth is not expected to slow much for the foreseeable future.

CHFA Mortgage

So, what does this mean for you and the possibility of affordable homeownership? Well don’t despair. There are still ways for you to purchase a home in Denver, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) was specifically created to help you. CHFA has a multitude of mortgage programs which offer loans and loan assistance options for down payment or closing costs for low-income borrowers. To use a CHFA Loan you want to work with a trusted mortgage lender approved by CHFA like 5280Lend.com.

As a home buyer, you need a mortgage lender you can trust to offer the best options for your financial future. We are the mortgage broker for you! If you are looking for an approved CHFA lender look no further. Not every lender can become a CHFA Lender. A lender must go through a complete vetting process and receive training from CHFA for all participating staff. 5280Lend.com goes above and beyond CHFA guidelines and requirements when we provide a CHFA Loan. We educate you on all aspects of a CHFA Loan and ensure that you are making the right choice for your family and your specific needs.

If you are considering a CHFA Loan, contact 5280Lend.com and let us help you make your home buying dream come true!

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CHFA Loan Requirements

Like any mortgage loan there are requirements to use a CHFA Loan Program. Since CHFA Loans are designed to help those who might not otherwise qualify, their qualification requirements are a little more stringent. Below are some of those requirements. Please note that CHFA offers a variety of loan types (discussed below) and not all of these requirements apply to all loan types. For more information about the specific requirements for each loan type please contact 5280Lend.com and we will be happy to explain in more detail.

  • 1

    Your income needs to fall within the CHFA guidelines for your household size

    What does this mean? CHFA has specific qualification guidelines for borrower income limits. In some cases, CHFA looks only at the income the CHFA lender uses for purposes of qualifying a borrower. In other cases, they look at the total gross income of the borrower. In addition, there are different limits depending on the county you live in and the number of members in your household. As an example, if you wanted to purchase a house in Boulder County, the CHFA Preferred program would provide for an income limit of $148,120 with no limit on the number of people living in the home, while the CHFA Preferred Very Low Income program only allows for total income of $62,700 regardless of the number of people living in the home. As you can see, income requirements can vary extensively from program to program even in the same county, so it is very important to have the assistance of an experience CHFA Lender like 5280Lend.com to help you navigate the programs.

  • 2

    You don’t have enough saved to make a down payment or cover closing costs

    Many people find themselves in this situation. Your income may be good enough, but you haven’t been able to save enough for a down payment and/or to cover closing costs. CHFA Loans can help with this situation. When you qualify for a CHFA Loan you can also qualify for funds to help you with your down payment and closing costs either through a grant or a small second mortgage depending on how much assistance you require. The terms vary and you will want to discuss which option is best for you with 5280Lend.com.

  • 3

    All borrowers have a mid-credit score of 620 or higher

    While many loan options require extremely good credit to qualify, CHFA loans usually only require a mid-credit score of 620 or higher. What is a mid-credit score? Lenders use the three major credit agencies, Transunion, Equifax and Experian to check your credit when you apply for a loan. They usually receive 3 different credit scores from the three agencies depending on what information each agency has. The mid-credit score is the middle score of the three. So if your three credit scores were 615, 625, and 640, your mid-credit score would be 625. All of the borrowers’ mid-credit scores must be 620 or higher so if you have more than one person on the loan, they all must have mid-credit scores of at least 620.

  • 4

    Provide a personal financial contribution of at least $1000 towards the down payment

    Although there is down payment assistance for those who qualify for CHFA Loans, CHFA still wants to know that you have a personal stake in the home buying process. Providing this amount, which we understand can be difficult for some, help demonstrate the seriousness of the borrower’s commitment. The funds can be money the borrower has saved themselves, or a cash gift from a family member, or any combination of the two. The $1000 is just a minimum. Borrowers can always contribute more which can lower your monthly payment.

  • 5

    Borrowers must qualify under CHFA Participating Lender guidelines in addition to meeting CHFA program requirements

    Although CHFA Programs come from CHFA, borrowers must still be qualified through a CHFA Participating Lenders such as 5280Lend.com. CHFA Loans are only available through a CHFA Participating Lender.

    CHFA’s mission is to “strengthen Colorado by investing in affordable housing and community development.” CHFA: Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) (chfainfo.com) They are not a direct lender. The don’t want to waste resources needed to provide funding for loans by having to staff for underwriting, so they work through CHFA Participating Lenders that have been trained in CHFA guidelines and program requirements. CHFA Participating Lenders do all of their traditional underwriting in addition to ensuring that borrowers meet CHFA requirements.

  • 6

    The property being purchased must be an eligible property under CHFA guidelines

    In addition to a borrower having qualifying income limits, credit score, and meeting lender guidelines, the property must meet CHFA guidelines as well. The following types of properties meet CHFA guidelines:

    • Single family homes
    • Single-unit condominiums
    • Planned Unit Developments – In a Planned Unit Development residents own both the home and the property on which it sits. The home is in a community with common areas that are owned by all the PUD’s homeowners. PUD’s owners elect officers from their members to a homeowners association (HOA) to govern the management and operation of the common areas. PUD homeowners also pay dues to the HOA.
    • Townhomes
    • Manufactured homes
    • and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – An ADU is a small home that can be built on the same lot alongside another, larger single-family home, or as a part of a community development. For CHFA purposes an ADU may be a qualifying property if:
      • It is zoned for Single Family occupancy
      • It is not zoned for 2-4 units
      • It meets investor guidelines and city/county zoning ordinances
      • It is not an income-producing property and is only for personal use.
  • 7

    All borrowers must attend a CHFA-approved homebuyer education class (in person or online) prior to loan closing

    The final step in obtaining a CHFA Loan is for all borrowers to attend a homebuyer education class. These classes are not just a box you need to check. The classes are designed to make sure that you understand the responsibilities of homeownership and to provide education on how to create a budget, how to manage your money, the effect of credit scores on the homebuying process, how to improve your credit and much more. You may complete the course at any point in the loan process, but it is recommended that you do it as soon as possible since the loan cannot close without it. The certificate you receive upon completion is good for 12 months so there is no reason not to do it earlier rather than later.

CHFA Programs

Below is a brief explanation of each of the CHFA Purchase Loan Programs. Remember that the CHFA program requirements discussed above overlay all of the individual program requirements. The discussion of the individual programs is not an exhaustive list, nor does it cover all of the intricacies of each program. It will, however, give you a better idea of what types of programs are available through CHFA. For more information about the programs, and whether you may qualify, contact 5280Lend.com:

CHFA Preferred and CHFA Preferred Plus

CHFA Preferred and CHFA Preferred Plus are 30 year fixed conventional mortgage loans. The underwriting requirements follow conventional loan guidelines. There are some very important differences, however, between a CHFA conventional loan and the traditional conventional loan. The main three are:

  • CHFA only requires a 3% down payment instead of the more typical 5% down payment, 
  • CHFA Preferred Plus borrowers can get a second mortgage loan of up to 4% of the first loan value to help with down payment and closing costs.  For example, if the initial loan is $300,000, borrowers can get up to $12,000 towards the 3% down payment requirement and closing costs.  The benefits of this loan are that the amount of the second mortgage will not be included in the calculation of your debt-to-income ratio (for a conventional loan they count all debt), and there is no interest ever and no repayment until the home is sold, refinanced, or the home is no longer the borrower’s primary residence. 
  • The private mortgage insurance (PMI) required for any loan with a loan to value of more than 80% will be less expensive than traditional PMI.

For more information about the CHFA Preferred Loans and whether they are right for you, contact 5280Lend.com today!

CHFA FirstStep & CHFA Firststep Plus

CHFA FirstStep and CHFA FirstStep Plus are government loans. For CHFA FirstStep and FirstStep Plus the government loan that applies is an FHA loan and requires the same underwriting as an FHA loan. The difference between these programs and a normal conventional loan is that, since the loan is funded by tax exempt bonds, the interest rate is often lower than what a borrower would qualify for under a normal conventional loan. In addition, CHFA FirstStep Plus borrowers have the option of obtaining a 0% interest, second mortgage to cover closing costs or part of their down payment. This second loan also has no monthly payments during the term of the loan. Instead, the second mortgage will be paid in full if the property is sold, refinanced or if the borrower moves and the property is no longer the borrower’s primary residence. CHFA FirstStep and CHFA FirstStep Plus do not qualify for the payment assistance grant.

The CHFA FirstStep and CHFA FirstStep Plus programs requirements include:

  • Qualification based on gross annual income 
  • First time homebuyer loan 
  • Qualified Veterans (may be treated as a first-time homebuyer even if they have owned a home previously) 
  • Non-first-time homebuyers if they are purchasing in a Targeted Area* 

Income limits vary by county, household size and whether someone is purchasing in a Targeted Area or a Non-Targeted Area.

*Targeted areas may have higher purchase price limits. Denver Metro includes Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson and Park counties. CHFA: Targeted Areas (chfainfo.com)

For more information about the CHFA FirstStep and FirstStep plus programs, speak to a lender at 5280Lend.com. We can help you understand whether you qualify for this program and answer any questions you may have.

CHFA Smartstep and CHFA Smartstep Plus

CHFA SmartStep and CHFA SmartStep Plus are another option for borrowers. There are some advantages to the SmartStep over the CHFA FirstStep and FirstStep Plus. There are more types of loan options, the use of a second mortgage or a grant for down payment assistance and you don’t need to be a first-time borrower. Below are more details about the differences:

  • Loan types:  FHA, VA, USDA-RD – Instead of a conventional loan, the SmartStep Programs are available only for government loans.  Unlike the FirstStep Program, multiple types of government loans are an option for SmartStep.  FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration.  Veteran Administration (VA) loans are only for current and former military.  US Department of Agriculture – Rural Development (USDA-RD) loans are for borrowers whose primary residence is located in a qualified rural area.  Underwriting guidelines for SmartStep loans follow the rules of the primary loan. 
  • Second Mortgage Loan or Grant:  SmartStep Plus loans are eligible for either a grant or a loan to assist with downpayment or closing costs. 
    • Loan – can be up to 4 percent of total loan amount, no interest, doesn’t count in debt-to-income ratio, repaid only upon sale, refinance or change of residence to non-primary 
    • Grant – up to 3 percent of total loan, doesn’t count in debt-to-income ratio, doesn’t need to be repaid. 
  • First Time Borrower:  Not required that you are a first-time borrower.

As you can see, SmartStep programs can be quite complex. If you think you may be eligible for a SmartStep Loan, or just want to explore all your loan options, contact 5280Lend.com.

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Other First Time Buyer Options

While CHFA programs have many options for first-time homebuyers and those needing assistance with purchasing a home, they are not the only option.

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities and programs for homebuyers. If you are interested in purchasing a home and just don’t know how you will manage it with the rise in prices and the amount of downpayment needed, contact 5280Lend.com and we will help you explore, and understand, all of your options.

Like CHFA, CHAC has an overlay of requirements including income limits and location eligibility. CHAC loans are only for down payment and closing cost assistance. Unlike CHFA, CHAC loans are not 0% interest, but they are low interest loans. CHAC loans are a second mortgage to whatever loan a borrower gets for the purchase, will be included in the debt-to-income ratio of the borrower and typically will need to be repaid monthly just like a borrower’s main loan.

MetroDPA loans can be used for the main purchase loan and/or for downpayment assistance. They are only for buyers who have up to $188,250 of qualifying income** and are buying a home in the Front Range (covers an area from Castle Rock to Wellington). Main loans are FHA, VA, USDA or certain conventional loans. Closing cost loan amounts will be a percentage of the main loan amount, will be a zero interest, 3 year deferred, forgivable loan.

This program is a specialized program for law enforcement, teachers (pre-k to 12th grade), fire fighters and emergency medical technicians. GNNDPs provide for a significant discount of 50% on the list price of the eligible home. The eligible buyer must commit to live in the property for 36 months as their principal residence. Eligible homes will be located in revitalization areas and will be listed exclusively through the GNNDP.

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I had a great experience working with Ted. He is very competitive and works to get you the best deal possible on your mortgage. He’s also a great communicator and always available to answer your questions. I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking to buy a house!

Elaina McGann