New 3 percent down-payment loans are already a reality through Fannie Mae’s “My Community Mortgage.” This affordable financing, serving low- to moderate-income borrowers, was rolled out in December, and Freddie Mac is getting ready to offer a similar product, “Home Possible Advantage,” with a closing date on or after March 23.

Both of these programs are for first-time homebuyers who don’t have a large down payment, but are otherwise well-qualified for a loan.

Eligible properties are owner-occupied, one to four units, principal residences, including condos, co-ops and PUDs. Additionally, these loans are slightly less expensive than the FHA-insured loans as their private mortgage insurance (PMI) is lower.

Though Freddie and Fannie are willing to purchase these loans, it is yet to be seen which lenders are willing to originate them due to the higher risk associated with them. These could, however, help many first-time homebuyers break into the market and make home ownership a reality.

For further information and the differences between these programs, visit and and contact a reputable local lender to see if you qualify for either of these loans.

Reyne Stapelmann is a broker associate with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, California Properties and the 2015 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at or 805.705.4353. The opinions expressed are her own.