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The Ultimate Guide to a California Home Loan

Moving to or buying in California? Scott Buehler is a licensed California mortgage lender.

Are you considering an upgrade, downgrade, first-time home purchase or a relocation in California?

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, looking to move down the street or taking a job opportunity that will move you across the country, I can help you through the home loan process here at Guild Mortgage.

We’ve mastered the art of creating solutions that work for every homebuyer. Regardless of your income, credit score, or financial history, we’re committed to helping you buy a home in the city of your dreams.

This guide will provide you with common questions, information and links to additional resources I’ve made available to help with your California mortgage needs.

Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to a California Home Loan by Scott Buehler. Please use the Table of Contents found on this page to navigate to sections that interest you.

As always, I am an email, text or phone call away to answer any specific questions about the California home loan process.

Relocating to California

While relocations may be one of my specialties, the large variety of loan programs and simple online application process makes us a great lending option for all of your mortgage lending needs.

I always tell my clients that the best way to have a positive relocation experience is to create a thorough plan from the very beginning. If you want to stay organized and ensure nothing slips through the cracks, consider these relocation questions:

  • Where are you moving?
  • Are you confident the area is the right fit for you? (Consider the following: cost of living, size of city, housing, employment opportunities, climate, crime/safety, education, traffic, overall culture, social scene, etc.)
  • How many times are you going to visit the area before moving?
  • When will these visits take place and what will you accomplish? (Meet with a Realtor? Scope out specific neighborhoods?)
  • Are you going to rent in your new city first before you commit to owning a house?
  • If you’re looking to own, are you open to new construction?
  • What’s your budget for your monthly mortgage payment/rent?
  • Are you going to tour apartments/houses virtually or in person?
  • What are your “must haves” when it comes to your living space? What are things you can compromise on? (I.e. number of bedrooms, lot size, garage access, etc.)
  • Do you have a real estate agent you trust in the area?
  • What is your moving date?
  • Are you keeping your current job? If you’re not, are you going to move before or after you have a new position?
  • Are you currently a homeowner? If yes, do you plan on selling your current home before buying a new one?
  • Do you have a lender that will help guide you through the relocation and home loan process?
  • Did you get pre-qualified?
  • Have you saved enough money for a down payment?
  • Have you saved enough money for the move itself? (Closing costs, real estate commission, etc.)
  • How are you going to move your things? (Are you getting a moving truck? Are you hiring movers? Are you shipping any of your items?)
  • Are you doing anything that could jeopardize your relocation/mortgage? (I.e. increasing your debt)

If you’re not able to confidently answer the questions above, you may have some work to do before you move. But don’t panic if that’s the case! I’m here to help you through every step of the relocation process, so please reach out if you need any advice or input while you make your plans.

Frequently Asked California Relocation Questions

Click or tap on a question below to reveal the answer.

How do I pick the right city to move to?
If you aren’t relocating with a clear purpose (i.e. to accept a job), picking the perfect place to live can feel vastly overwhelming. That’s why I suggest focusing on the things that matter most to you rather than obsessing over every detail. Sure, everyone should consider things like the size of the city, but if you’re a parent, finding an area with good schools and low crime might be your priority, whereas if you’re single, you might want to focus more on the job market or overall culture.
How do I know if I can afford to relocate?
One of the first things you should do when you’re considering moving is to research the cost of living in potential locations. (Move.org is a great resource for this.) However, you can’t just focus on the costs you’ll have once you’re there, you must also think of the cost of actually getting there, too.

Once you factor in REALTOR® fees, closing costs (both on the sale of your current home and the purchase of your new home), moving vehicles/movers, and other moving-related expenses such as utilities, vehicle and drivers licensing, moving out of state can get costly. Make sure to budget appropriately!
Do I have to sell my current home before buying a new one in California?
Every situation is different. Most of my clients find that it’s beneficial to sell their current home (and gain access to their equity) before they purchase a new house or try to qualify for another mortgage. Other clients, typically those with substantial savings and low debt, have been able to qualify for multiple mortgages at once.

This helps avoid the headache that comes with finding temporary housing in-between selling and buying.
What if I’m changing jobs when I move? Will this affect my ability to get a mortgage?
What type of mortgage you qualify for, including your loan amount and interest rate, relies heavily on your employment and income. Relocations often come with job changes if you aren’t working remotely, which can make things a little tricky. While it’s typically best not to make any big changes in-between applying for your mortgage and closing on your house (i.e. accepting a new job in a new state), an effective strategy and game plan will make all the difference in your mortgage.

Whether you are self-employed, sticking with your current company and working remotely, or planning on switching jobs before the move, let’s talk through your options and come up with a plan that will work for you.

Pre-Qualifying for a California Mortgage

Here’s how pre-qualification works: After you fill out a loan application, my team and I can review your information, consider your financial history, and provide you with an estimate of what you might be able to borrow.

Getting pre-qualified will help you stand out from other buyers, make a more attractive offer to sellers, and simplify the mortgage process overall. Are worried that getting prequalified would be getting ahead of yourself? Don’t be. The best time to start the prequalification process is before you even begin shopping for a home and there’s absolutely no obligation on your part!

Perhaps you’d like to pre-qualify in multiple states? I am currently licensed in the entire state of California and Utah. Should you decide on another state I’m not licensed in, it’s likely another Loan Officer in Guild Mortgage can step in to assist you with your mortgage.

Prequalification is hands down the smartest step you can take before you decide on buying. Consider my quick 60-second questionnaire as your starting point or head on over to my contact page for my contact details or to ask a question (or 20!).

California Mortgage Process

Scott, what’s the mortgage process like to buy a home in California? Glad you asked!

The first step is to begin my 60-second questionnaire. These provides me with essential information that I need to cater a mortgage program specific to your needs that will benefit you the most.

After your questionnaire, I would recommend scheduling a call with me to discuss your California home purchasing goals. Are you buying a second home or investment property? Are you relocating due to job transfer and need planning guidance? Perhaps you just want to refinance your home to remodel, consolidate debt, lower your interest rate or other reason.

After the call, email or text conversation, it’s on to officially applying for a mortgage. From here, I invite you to check out my mortgage process guide that is part of my extensive homebuyer course available.

California Locations

No matter which city you choose in California, I can help as I’m licensed throughout the entire state. Need ideas to research for a relocation? Consider:

  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Diego, California
  • San Jose, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Fresno, California
  • Sacramento, California
  • Long Beach, California
  • Oakland, California
  • Bakersfield, California
  • Anaheim, California
  • Stockton, California
  • Riverside, California
  • Santa Ana, California
  • Irvine, California
  • Chula Vista, California
  • Fremont, California
  • Santa Clarita, California
  • San Bernardino, California
  • Modesto, California
  • Moreno Valley, California
  • Fontana, California
  • Oxnard, California
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Glendale, California
  • Santa Rosa, California
  • Elk Grove, California
  • Ontario, California
  • Rancho Cucamonga, California
  • Oceanside, California
  • Lancaster, California

A Quick Reference to a  Mortgage

The idea of starting fresh in a new city can be thrilling, but don’t let your excitement get the best of you! While it’s certainly exciting, relocating requires a lot of preparation and planning if you want things to go smoothly. To ensure you have the best relocation experience possible, here are some dos and don'ts to consider:


  • Get pre-qualified for a mortgage before you begin your search.
  • Make a list of what matters most to you in an area (i.e. cost of living, climate, culture, etc.).
  • Research and visit several different cities before making a decision (if you can).
  • Take advantage of virtual home and neighborhood tours.
  • Find a real estate agent you can trust (ask me for my list of referral partners).
  • Make and stick to a moving budget.
  • Set aside a fund that’s larger than your budget.
  • Have a question? Ask me anytime!


  • Rush into any commitments before doing your research.
  • Be unrealistic about your financial situation when picking a neighborhood or home.
  • Take out any additional loans, co-sign, go late on debt payments or do anything that would harm your credit.
  • Stress about buying a home while selling your current one.
  • Leave packing or planning until the last minute.
  • Spend money set aside for mortgage closing costs and down payment.

How do I Apply for a California Mortgage?

Click here to begin the loan application and consider my loan application walk-through for a step-by-step guide that will likely answer questions as you progress.

My loan application is intuitive and includes automations after submission that may result in less documentation that you will need to provide (depending on your bank and employer).

I strive to provide the smoothest possible loan process from the very beginning to closing.

Important Disclaimers

The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. Scott Buehler updates this information periodically. This information may include links or references to third-party resources or content. Scott Buehler or Guild Mortgage does not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that may also serve your needs.

Other California Reference Materials

California Down Payment Assistance Solutions

Need help with your down payment or closing costs? Wondering what California-specific assistance solutions I have available? 

Although down payment assistance solutions are typically a fee-heavy solution, they are available for those that need it.

Be sure to ask me about using gift funds from immediate family before considering these options.
See California DPA Solutions

California Mortgage Calculator

Wondering how much your loan would be with your target home purchase price? 

Wondering how much faster you'd pay off your mortgage with an extra $50, $100 or more?

This advanced calculator will provide you a full amortization report and graph showing estimated interest and principal distribution over time.

Click explore below to begin!
California Mortgage Calculator

California Conventional Mortgage Limits by County

This is a page from my Home Purchase Guide that includes a California county-by-county table of the current Conventional loan limits.

This is very useful to know to figure out how much down payment you'd need to stay within Conventional loan limits.

I have Jumbo loan programs available when you need to exceed these limits.
See California Conventional Limits

California FHA Mortgage Limits by County

FHA provides current and future California residents a lower down payment solution but has lower loan limits over other loan programs.

For borrowers that are working to improve their credit scores, FHA may have additional benefits including lower interest rates, lower over mortgage payments and more.

If a property exceeds the loan amount you need, consider Conventional or Jumbo as options.
See California FHA Loan Limits

Ready to Start Your California Mortgage?

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