San Diegans can buy homes with 3 percent down

SAN DIEGO -- San Diegans are still facing a double-edged sword when it comes to living in an area bounded by the ocean and beaches with hills, brush, and mountains nearby.

The issue: High rents are eating away at money that could be saved for a down payment on a home. 

Enter Wells Fargo's new YourFirst Mortgage, which allows San Diegans with at least a 620 credit score to apply for a mortgage with just three percent down. The mortgage gives borrowers the chance to finance a home up to $417,000, which could be enough for a small single-family home or a condo in the county. 

Steve Fisher said high rents in San Diego are making it hard for people to accumulate cash. the La Mesa resident was walking in Hillcrest Tuesday when he saw a sign advertising a one-bedroom loft apartment for $1,500 a month. 

"Seemed like a lot for a 1 bedroom loft," he said. 

Fisher still lives in the two-bedroom condo he bought about 15 years ago in La Mesa. His monthly mortgage and HOA payment combined is still $300 a month less than the Hillcrest one-bedroom's $1,500 rent. 

"You've got to make $40,000 to $50,000 a year to sustain that kind of rent," he said.

The average San Diegan makes about $54,000 a year, according to state data. Rents eat away at much of that average take-home pay that could be saved toward a down payment. 

Joseph Lai, Wells Fargo's San Diego home mortgage manager, said the new program allows people who don't have much in savings but with incomes to afford the monthly payment to put their name on a deed. He said it is open to all income levels. 

Lai declined to give interest rates but said people who complete a Wells Fargo home lending course get one-eighth of a percent off. 

Mark Goldman, a real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, estimated that a $400,000 home with a three percent down payment would require a $2,700 a month mortgage payment, including insurance, and taxes. 

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