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California restarts first-time homebuyer assistance program

A re-launched program will give incentives for first-time buyers in California.

A re-launched program will give incentives for first-time buyers in California.

The California Housing Finance Agency has now restarted a program aimed to help families with low or moderate incomes afford to purchase newly constructed homes.

The agency has reinstated its School Facility Down Payment Assistance Program - or SFF - after suspending it in July 2009 because of financial instability. The program helps potential buyers pay for their down payment or closing cots by providing a conditional grant based on the school facility fees paid by the builder.

"We're pleased to be able to re-start this program and assist California families in purchasing their first homes," said Steven Spears, executive director of CalHFA. "This is one part of our ongoing efforts to support homebuyers at this unique time when homes are more affordable than they have been in many years."

Since it started in 1999, the SFF has helped more than 12,000 families. The average rebate, which varies by the district and the size of the home, is approximately $5,100.

The credit could help boost a state housing market that has continued to struggle. According to MDA DataQuick, home sales in the state in September fell 3.1 percent from August and were more than 17 percent below levels from last year.