New program aids those needing down payment help

Posted at 5:58 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 20:58:51-05

San Diego's nonstop rise in home prices is making owning that first home incredibly elusive right now.

The inability to own is because many residents can't come up with enough cash for a down payment to qualify for a mortgage.

Now, a new program could get people closer to that cash.

It took Justin Daniel and his wife three years to come up with enough money to make a down payment on their Linda Vista home.

"We just barely squeaked by on that," he said.

But not everyone in San Diego can save up enough to qualify for a mortgage, as rising rents eat up more take-home pay.

It can keep the dream of owning property from ever turning into a reality.

"If you want to settle, have kids, go to a dedicated school district, that's great," Daniel said.

The Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT program will divvy up $4 million worth of grants to hundreds of San Diegans. They can qualify for up to $7,500 toward a down payment.

The grants are for households earning below the median income, so a household of four can earn up to $81,000 a year and be eligible.

In Chula Vista, for example, a median home there costs about $425,000. A 3.5 percent down payment means you need to come up with about $15,000 in cash.

However, it takes money to get the money.

"We are asking that the potential homebuyers also contribute to the down payment," said Celia Lanning, Wells Fargo's San Diego region president.

That means a San Diegan who has saved $5,000 can get another $7,500 from the program.

The funds can come from savings, another grant program or a gift.

Participants can use any lender.

However, there is a catch. If you use the program, you can't buy a Wells Fargo bank-owned home.

The NeighborhoodLIFT program kicks off on March 4-5 with an event at the downtown Hilton Bayfront. Register at

Daniel bought his home in 2014 and hasn't looked back.

"The money counts for a lot, but it's the community and the ability to put roots down in a lot of, even literal ways," he said.