First time homebuyer Loans

Downpayment assistance loans for first-time homebuyers in San Mateo County

Download our program flyer, workshop presentation, and workshop recording from the FAQ section below. 

Together with Meriwest Mortgage, a subsidiary of Meriwest Credit Union, HEART has created a unique loan package that is not offered by any other lender. Our goal is simple: to help you purchase a home with 5% downpayment and no PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance).

How does the First-Time Homebuyer Program work?

  • HEART partner Meriwest Mortgage offers a 30-year, conforming or high-balance fixed-rate loan of up to $726,525.
  • HEART offers a 15-year, below market rate second lien downpayment loan of up to $136,223.
  • Maximum purchase price for this combination, together with 5% downpayment from the borrower, is $908,156.
  • Borrower is not required to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI) which can cost thousands of dollars annually. This results in significant savings to the homebuyer.
  • If you meet the qualifications below, apply online below for a pre-qualification letter from Meriwest Mortgage to find out how much you can borrow.

Please note that this is for market rate homes only, and not BMR (below market rate).

Who Qualifies?

In order to qualify for this program, you must meet a few specific requirements. There aren’t many of them, but they are important, and you must be able to prove that you meet each and every one of them. Please review the list below and check those to which you can answer “yes.”

  • Do you live or work in San Mateo County?
  • Is the home you are purchasing in San Mateo County? You may purchase a condo or single family home anywhere in San Mateo County.
  • Do you and your family earn $170,000 or less each year?
  • Do all borrowers have good credit – FICO score 680 or higher?
  • Is the purchase price of the property you want to buy $908,156 or less?
  • Have you NOT owned a home during the past 36 months, OR, if you have, will you be selling your current home and buying one that is substantially closer to transit in San Mateo County?
  • Will you be able to make a down payment of 5% of the purchase price?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, you may qualify for HEART’s Opening Doors program. To begin the application process and find out for certain if this program is right for you, click on the APPLY NOW button. You will be taken to the Meriwest Mortgage website, where you can complete a loan application.

⇒Apply Now⇐

How much house can I afford? What do I do first?


Helpful Tools for First Time Homebuyers 

Guidelines are current as of September 2020 and subject to change due to rapidly changing market conditions. Check back for updates, or contact John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage by cell at (408) 849-7115 or via email at [email protected]


Q: What do I do if I have more questions?

A. Download our program flyer here.

B. Download a terms sheet here for helpful reference.

C. Download our workshop presentation here.

D. Watch a one-hour workshop on how to use the HEART program here.

Q: What are the interest rates?

A:  Please contact John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage, by cell 408-849-7115 or via email [email protected] for today’s rates or check the Meriwest Mortgage website

Q: How is the program funded?

A: HEART funds the First Time Homebuyer program through donations and grants it receives from local organizations and employers. HEART raises funds year-round to enable this program to grow and serve even more local residents and employees. Please click on the Donate Now button to make a gift, or contact HEART at (650) 204-5640, [email protected]  Thank you!


If you have problems accessing the site, have questions, or need further information, please call HEART at (650) 204-5640 or email [email protected].