Section 184 Native American Home Loans California

Section 184 Loans California: Affordable Homeownership For Native Americans

California has the biggest population of Native Americans of any state, over 800,000 strong.

That’s over 300,000 more than Oklahoma, the state with the next largest Native population.

It’s surprising, then, that California ranks only 4th for Section 184 Native American Home Loans. 

Perhaps if more Native People in California knew about this program’s benefits, more would use it. Here’s what you need to know as a Native American homebuyer in the Golden State.

Connect with a lender to see if you’re eligible to buy a home.

In this article:

Benefits of a Section 184 Loan in California

The Section 184 Native American homebuying program offers California homebuyers easier qualification standards than conventional loans or even FHA

To encourage homeownership, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) backs these loans. In turn, lenders can be flexible when reviewing applications. Even someone who doesn’t think they meet guidelines are encouraged to apply.

Following are some benefits of Section 184 Loans California:

  • 2.25% down payment
  • Down payment assistance can cover the entire down payment
  • Cover all closing costs with gift funds or assistance
  • No monthly mortgage insurance
  • No credit score minimum
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Finance a home on or off Tribal trust land
  • Purchase, build, renovate, or refinance a home

The Section 184 Loan is a flexible financing option only available to Native Americans. If you are an enrolled member of a federally-recognized Tribe (a tribe from any state), it’s worth considering this loan program to purchase a California property.

Connect with a lender to check your eligibility.

Where in California are Section 184 loans available?

While it’s not true for every state, the entirety of California is eligible for this loan program (some states have only certain approved counties or are not approved at all). 

And yes, this includes properties on reservation land. No other major loan program allows lending on federally-recognized Tribal land, but Section 184 does.

Even if your Tribe is located in another state, you can buy a home in California if you meet eligibility requirements.

Who qualifies?

In California or any state, you’ll need to meet certain requirements to be eligible for this loan.

Tribal membership: You’ll need to provide the lender with Tribal ID from a federally-recognized Tribe. The Tribe also must be approved by HUD to participate in the program.

Primary residence: You must plan to live in the home you’re financing. No second homes or investment properties. You can buy a 2-4 unit property, live in one unit, and rent out the rest.

Property type: 1-4 unit home or a manufactured home on a permanent foundation.

Loan purpose: Buy, build, renovate, refinance a home or place a manufactured home on a permanent foundation.

Credit: There is no credit score minimum. Lenders will check that you have reasonable credit history with no current judgments or other serious derogatory items.

Income: Show two years of consistent employment history. Your future housing payment plus all debt payments can be up to 43% of your gross income with compensating factors, or 41% otherwise.

Lease: If buying on reservation land, you must obtain a lease from the Tribe. You’ll also need a Title Status Report from your local BIA office. The lender can help you get these items.

See if you’re eligible for Section 184 by speaking with a lender.

Section 184 loan limits California

Section 184 loan limits in California range from $420,680 to $970,800 depending on the county. Loan limits are also higher for duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes. You can buy a home with a maximum of 4 units with the Section 184 Loan.

Standard limits nationwide and in many areas of California are:

  • 1-unit: $498,257
  • 2-unit: $637,950
  • 3-unit: $771,125
  • 4-unit: $958,350

As you already know, California has some of the highest housing costs in the country. That’s why HUD allows very high loan limits in many areas. Below are a few examples of counties at the standard and high-cost limits.

LASSEN$ 498,257$ 637,950$ 771,125$ 958,350
MARIPOSA$ 510,400$ 653,312$ 791,120$ 979,968
SAN BERNARDINO$ 644,000$ 824,450$ 996,550$ 1,238,500
SAN DIEGO$ 1,006,250$ 1,288,200$ 1,557,150$ 1,935,150

Despite very high limits in many areas, remember that you need to qualify for the loan based on your income and current debts. Get a pre-approval from a Section 184 lender to know your exact loan and home price limit.

California Section 184 Loan calculator

When using a Section 184 Loan calculator, make sure it is telling you the correct upfront mortgage insurance premium. Also, make sure you can enter your estimated taxes and insurance. Our calculator allows you to estimate your full cost.

>>See the California Section 184 Calculator

Native American Tribes in California

California is home to 109 federally-recognized Indian Tribes in almost 100 reservations or Rancherias. Indian Country is strong in the state.

One of the major eligibility criteria for this loan is that you must be an enrolled member of a federally-recognized Tribe or Alaska Native Village, and have valid Tribal ID. Your Tribe must be approved by HUD. However, your Tribe does not need to be based in California to use the loan there.

A good place to see if your Tribe is HUD-approved for the loan is our Approved Tribes list. Check the housing section of your Tribe’s website for current information. Following are some approved Tribes in California as of December 2022 (the most recent information available).

  • Berry Creek Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California
  • Big Sandy Rancheria of Western Mono Indians of California
  • Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians of California
  • Fort Mojave Indian Tribe of Arizona, California and Nevada
  • Guidiville Rancheria of California
  • Mooretown Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California
  • Tule River Indian Tribe of California
  • Washoe Tribes of Nevada and California

California Section 184 lenders

Not every lender offers these loans, in fact, very few do. But there are currently 59 Section 184 lenders in California.   This gives you plenty of options when shopping around. 

Some well-known names are Fairway Independent Mortgage, Alaska USA, Caliber Home Loans, Sun West, NEXA Mortgage, and more.

Most homebuyers and refinancing homeowners call about 2-4 lenders when getting rate quotes and requesting pre-approvals. So having nearly 60 lenders to choose from is plenty.

Connect with a lender.

California Section 184 FAQ

Are Section 184 Loans available in California?

Section 184 Loans are available in all areas of California. You do not have to buy on reservation land, although this loan allows you to do that, too. Members of Tribes outside of California can buy in the state as well.

Is the Section 184 a California Native American first-time buyer program?

Native American first-time buyers can use Section 184. It works well for those who have never owned a home because it requires a small down payment and offers other affordability benefits. Those who have purchased a home before can use it as well.

How long does it take to get a California Section 184 loan?

It can take less than 30 days to close when buying outside of Tribal trust land. If you are buying on trust land, it can take 45-60 days due to extra steps, such as acquiring a lease from the Tribe and a title report from BIA.

Get started on your California Section 184 Native American Home Loan

Becoming a homeowner is much easier for Native Americans in California than for most buyers. The Section 184 home loan removes many of the traditional barriers to homeownership.

Check your eligibility for this homebuying program. You might be surprised at how quickly you can become a homeowner.

Start your pre-approval. Find a lender here.

Section 184 Loan Eligibility and Process Flowchart Infographic


  • Tim Lucas

    Tim Lucas (NMLS 118763) has 20 years of hands-on mortgage industry experience helping everyone from first-time buyers to experienced investors. He purchased his first home at 26 with just $1,100 out-of-pocket and now owns real estate worth $2.4 million. Tim was the managing editor at national websites and and has been featured in publications such as Time, U.S. News, MSN, and more. He is a licensed loan originator (NMLS 118763). Connect with Tim on LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok.