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Making It in San Diego: Buy a deeply discounted condo

Posted at 2:20 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 12:52:30-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The La Boheme complex in the heart of North Park offers plenty of amenities.

It even has a salon and Pilates studio at street level.

"Pretty sure the rent's pretty up there," said Arthur Reynoso, walking by the building on Thursday.

What most people don't know, however, is that 45 of the 224 condos in the building are affordable - to own. It's rare for one to come on the market, but a handful do each year. In fact, one is about to sell for $215,341, which is about 40 percent off the median condo price of $396,000 in North Park.

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"They get snapped up very quickly," said Sujata Raman, director of housing finance at the San Diego Housing Commission.

The commission oversees about 250 for-sale affordable homes in San Diego - located in Carmel Valley, Black Mountain Ranch and North Park. Only four are for sale now, and Raman said all have been matched with buyers.

However, they can list anytime.

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"When a homeowner decides to sell we assist them by finding buyers because they ultimately have to be income approved and qualified by the housing commission," Raman said.

A homeowner can sell the property to anyone he or she wishes - so long as they are qualified - but the commission still maintains an interest list and is accepting applicants. Currently, there are about 275 households qualified for that list. The homes are not listed on the MLS.

Still, there are restrictions when owning one of these units. Owners must live in them, and cannot rent out any part to supplement income. The commission checks that annually. Qualified buyers usually have 60 to 110 percent of area median income.

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Buyers must come up with a 3 percent down payment to qualify. The homes are deed-restricted for generally 45-50 years, meaning they have to be sold at an affordable price for that time span.

However, once that time expires, that home becomes market rate and can be sold for any price. It doesn't reset once a property changes hands.