Tough Getting Ahead in Real Estate in San Diego

Dan Scott of Faith Based Community Development teaches the class

Dan Scott of Faith Based Community Development teaches the class

Real estate prices have been steadily rebounding over the past four months in San Diego, particularly for homes suitable for first-time homebuyers. An $8,000 federal rebate, which is set to expire soon, could be what has stimulated demand in this tier of the market. It’s sort of a good news-bad news thing – the good news is that you’ll get an $8,000 rebate if you qualify; the bad news is that the house is now $20,000 more than it was six months ago thanks to, well, the rebates.

OK, so how’s a first-time buyer—particularly someone who is technically a low-income individual or family—to get in the market?

I recently attended a workshop with 28 hopeful homebuyers up in Oceanside to learn about their options.

Led by Daniel Scott, executive director of Faith-Based Community Development Corporation and a banker for 15 years, the monthly workshops are mandatory for people who’d like to qualify for federal homebuyer assistance.

I talked to Omnisha Walker of Oceanside who attended to learn how she might afford a home for herself and her 18 and 14-year-old twin daughters.

“I want to own a home to be stable and to have the security for my children and myself,” she explained.

 As a resident of Oceanside for more than two and a half years, Walker will be able to qualify for the city’s down payment and closing cost assistance once she has reached Oceanside’s three-year residency requirement and assuming she is what the experts call ‘income eligible.’ 

But here’s some more good news-bad news: The program is a great help; however, Oceanside only has the federal funds to help 16 families out of the 300 to 500 requests it receives each year.

San Diego County as well as cities in the region offer various homebuyer assistance programs. That’s good, right? But the bad news is that all of them have different rules to qualify.

During the workshop, Scott taught attendees about these programs, budgeting for home ownership and the closing process.

“I’ve sat through so many meetings and just thought ‘send me the hand-outs’. We try to make it entertaining,” said Scott who last year helped 70 families qualify for assistance on $15 million in local real estate sales.

Lender Aaron Hultin, a community lending specialist from Guild Mortgage Company, also presented to the homebuyers and shared detailed cost calculations to guide first-time homebuyers through the available programs.

Assuming a $200,000 purchase price with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, Hultin showed how layered financing could close the affordability gap for these first-time homebuyers and reduce the income needed from $40,900 per year to $29,500.

Shayna and Javier Mantilla came down from Lake Elsinore to attend. Both the Mantillas and Kaye and Andy Sudak of Escondido have a home in escrow. Their workshop certificate will be essential to qualifying them for Riverside County and Escondido assistance programs.

Angela Click of Carlsbad said she’s just beginning to look at homes for herself in Vista.  Click works for a car dealership and has been watching home prices rise in North County over the past three months. She says that, for her, “now is the time.”

Hultin’s advice for first-time homebuyers is to work with a lender to get prequalified for traditional assistance.

“In the lower end, there’s so much competition. It’s going to take 25 to 30 offers before they’re going to get one to stick,” Hultin explained.

That’s the experience of Celina Ramos who attended with Felipe Corona and is working with Hultin. “The offers come in so fast,” she said.

To learn about these monthly homebuyer education workshops or other services offered to low income borrowers and hopeful homebuyers, give Dan Scott a call at  (760) 721-2117 ext. 304.

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