Making it in San Diego: Key saving steps helped renter buy her first home

Posted at 4:41 PM, Oct 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-05 20:39:11-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — When Cheryl Ripp moved from Las Vegas to San Diego, she immediately got hit with the sunshine tax.

“I was paying in rent here with roommates what I could probably get a mortgage for back there,” Ripp said. 

Ripp spent the last few years living in a 400-square-foot apartment in Pacific Beach, paying $1,200 a month. She said she saw the rents rising around her and started to worry that she would someday be priced out of living in San Diego.

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Ripp, a nurse, wanted to buy her own place but had almost nothing saved for a down payment. After meeting with a financial advisor, she set up an online savings account with an automatic transfer.

“I never saw the money, and then I didn't miss the money anymore,” Ripp said. 

But saving up was only one part. 

Ripp still had to find a seller willing to give her a shot. She was a first-time home buyer competing with all-cash offers. Ripp and her realtor David Spiewak looked for two years. They put in six offers, all unsuccessful. 

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Corelogic says the median home price in San Diego County is now $583,000, up nine percent compared to the same month last year. Sales, however, have slowed nine percent over the year, with 3,753 properties changing hands in August.

Spiewak said the market is slowing as interest rates rise.

“It’s not necessarily bad for the investors. I just don't think they are getting the sweet deal that they are looking for,” Spiewak said. 

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Either way, it opened the door for Ripp, who ultimately landed a one-bedroom, 700-square-foot condo in downtown for $317,500. She got it with five percent down, using her cash savings and borrowing from her 401(k).

“At that point, I was so sick of putting in offers I barely even looked at the unit," Ripp said. "I was like whatever, I'm not going to get it anyway, and then we got it."

Ripp’s mortgage payment is around $2,400 a month, double what she paid in rent in Pacific Beach. 

But she says she loves being a homeowner and feels it's a path to bigger and better things down the road.