open house

11 San Diego First-Time Buyer Tips

Buying your first home in San Diego is a big deal and the process can seem quite overwhelming. With so many steps to take, it’s hard to tell which order you should complete them in. While working with a real estate agent can help you through the process, it’s always good to educate yourself on the side. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help prepare you for buying your first home, whether you have just started the process or you are months deep, these first-time buyer tips will be helpful for you.

  1. Start Early to Save for a Down Payment

down payment savings

One of the perks of being a first-time buyer is that many lenders now accept only a small 3% down payment. Of course with San Diego’s high cost of living, 3% can still amount to be a large chunk of change. As soon as you decide that buying a home is your goal, it’s important to start saving for a down payment and even closing costs if possible. To figure out how much you need to save, try using a down payment calculator. It’s important to remember that the smaller your down payment is, the more your monthly mortgage payment will be. Once you figure out the down payment amount you need to save, you can then make adjustments to your budget to put money into savings every month.

There are plenty of ways you can save for a down payment. Cut costs in every corner, start a side-gig or get a second job, or just be extremely frugal with your money. Making an easy to follow savings plan will help you stay on track and achieve your goals sooner than later.

  1. Figure Out How Much You Can Afford

Along with calculating your down payment, you should also determine how much you can afford. Houses for sale in South Park can range well into the millions. This is the point where you figure out your budget and how much mortgage you can afford. You can use a home affordability calculator to help you determine this or even set up an appointment with a lending company. Check out our affordability calculator here.

  1. Check Your Credit

It’s unlikely you will buy your home with cash so it’s important to know the health of your credit. Establishing low-interest rates is only going to be possible with a healthy credit score. This may even help you establish better loan terms as well. Do a thorough check of your credit to find where you can improve. While saving for your down payment it’s also important to work on improving and maintaining a good credit score.

  1. Research Assistance Programs

First-time buyers in San Diego have a lot of options thanks to local grants and loan options. Now is the time to see if you qualify for any of them. Take a look at the complete list of homebuyer grants and loans in San Diego to see if you qualify.

  1. Save for Closing Costs

Unfortunately, there are costs associated with closing the sale of your home. Generally, closing costs are between 2% and 5% of your loan amount. On the bright side, however, you can shop around for better prices of certain closing expenses like homeowner’s insurance, title searches, and home inspections. You can also negotiate with your real estate agent or the sellers about not paying a portion of it.

  1. Consider Your New Home Must-Haves

kitchen and dining room

Now is the fun step! This is when you start making a checklist of everything your home must have. This includes the square footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, a garage, pool and anything you can imagine wanting. This is your dream home wish list. You should also decide if you want to buy a detached house, condo, or townhouse in San Diego. You will also need to choose which neighborhoods you are interested in living in. Making a list of first choice, second choice, and third choice so you have plenty of options. Once you complete your wish list, this will help your real estate agent find potential listings for you to look at.

  1. Research Mortgages

Although shopping for mortgages isn’t fun, it’s important to shop around for the best interest rates and terms for your 15 to 30-year payment plan. We recommend comparing rates from at least 3 different lenders to find the best deal.

  1. Hire the Right Real Estate Agent in San Diego

You will work very closely with your real estate agent so it’s important you find an agent or team that you work well with. Your agent should be motivated, skilled and knowledgeable about the area of San Diego. The Wolf Real Estate Team has over ten years of experience in the business and we are both San Diego natives. If you’re looking for the right neighborhood to suit you, we can easily help.

  1. Stay Under Your Pre-Approved Limit

When it comes to house hunting, it’s important to stay under your budget. Your pre-approval rate should be the maximum amount you can afford. It’s always better to stay under budget than over budget. Especially if you need money to buy things for your new home.

  1. Go to Open Houses

open houseGo to as many open houses as possible to not only find out if you like a home but to get a feel for the neighborhood and its neighbors. During the open house, pay attention to the small details like if there are any strange smells or items that look like they need repairing. Find out how old all the appliances are when maintenance was last done and anything else you might be wondering. If you need more than one look to decide if you want to buy the home, schedule as many visits as you need.

  1. Make a Strong Offer

Once you find the house you want to call home, put down an offer. Your real estate agent will help you write one. If multiple people make offers, you will need a real estate agent will excellent negotiation skills to help you win over the home.

Need a San Diego Real Estate Agent?

If you are considering buying your first home, give the Wolf Real Estate Team a call today. We can help you through the entire real estate process so you don’t feel overwhelmed. We can also answer any questions you might have about San Diego’s current real estate market or suitable neighborhoods for you. Give us a call at 858-722-6847 or fill out our online contact form.

replace windows spring home imrpovement

Spring Home Improvements for your San Diego Home

Spring is in the air! In case you didn’t know, spring is symbolic for a time of rebirth and starting over. This is an idea you can carry over to the life of your home. Now that winter storms are on their way out, it’s time to start thinking about what home improvements you want to do this year. Whether you want to keep up with a bit of home maintenance, or you want to do a full-on a home upgrade to increase the value of your home, we have collected some ideas you can use to plan your home improvements this year. The Wolf Real Estate Team is happy to recommend professionals in San Diego to help you with your home maintenance or home repairs you want to have done, just contact us for our referrals.

Replace Windows

replace windows spring home imrpovement

Although we don’t deal with extremely cold weather in San Diego, replacing your windows can actually help your house stay quiet, especially if you live in South Park and constantly hear airplanes flying overhead. Replacing your windows can also help keep it insulated better, saving you money on air conditioning and other costs you spend during summer to keep your home cool. Replacing old windows with brand new double pane windows will definitely give your home more value when it comes time to sell. In the meantime, these spring home improvements will give you energy savings and a quieter home for you to enjoy.

Repair Your Roof

Think about it, your roof is your home’s number one defense against anything, just as a helmet would protect your head during physical activity. It’s important to protect your roof in order to protect your home from incurring any damage. A small issue on your roof can lead to major problems inside your home if it is not addressed early on. This small issue could also lead to even bigger problems if it is left untreated. Have your roof inspected by a San Diego roof inspector, or just take a look yourself for any missing shingles, or other noticeable problems. Fixing any roof problems will save your home from future problems, in addition, it will add value to your home when it comes time to sell! There are so many spring home improvements you can make to improve your home and make it more valuable.

Replace Inefficient Appliances

Household Appliances in modern kitchen

Some appliances can become too old and outdated to repair. There comes a point when you need to decide if it’s going to cost more to keep repairing it, or simply just upgrade and replace it. When choosing your new appliances, make sure they have the EnergyStar label. This will be appealing to any future buyers, as well as yourself because it will make electricity bills less. Homeowners should prioritize their appliance replacement in this order: stove/oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, and then microwave. The more expensive appliances will give you a higher return when you decide to sell, so it only makes sense to replace those ones first. If you need help deciding which kitchen appliances are the best to choose from, we will set you up with an expert in San Diego to help you through the process. If interested, you can also read more about remodeling your kitchen.


This is a simple spring upgrade you can do throughout your house to make it more appealing. As of 2018, some of the trending home colors include rich pigments, a pale teal, a golden yellow, a deep turquoise, emerald green, vivid red, dark grey, and deep onyx. Painting your rooms different colors that aren’t an off-white can really change the appearance of the inside of your house. This upgrade may even inspire you to buy some new furniture! A beautiful paint job can also really entice buyers to want to move into your home because it’s already move-in ready.

In addition to painting the interior, you can also extend your painting project to the outside of your home. This is a project you may want to have a professional designer involved with. Choosing a new exterior color for your home can give it more curb appeal and therefore raise the value of your home. If you are not so sure of your own design tastes, consult with a professional home designer in San Diego to find out which colors will make your home more appealing and on trend.


If you are going for curb appeal, landscaping plays a huge factor. Now that winter is over, it’s time to prune your trees to get them ready to grow fresh new leaves for spring and prevent any broken branches from falling on your home. Trimming your trees every spring will not only help them grow healthier, it will make your home look better. You will also need to mulch any plants that you have. This will revive the soil and help plants thrive as well as just make them look better. If you have just let your yard go, consider doing a complete landscape renovation. Since we live in San Diego, considering a drought-resistant landscaping design will make your home more appealing and give you a beautiful yard that won’t require too much upkeep from you.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning

This one might be a bit obvious, but going through your home and collecting items and clothing for donations or to just throw out because they cause clutter is one way to improve your home. As well as going through your stuff, you should be making a list of all of the nooks and crannies that need to be deep cleaned. You know your outside windows and how you never wash them? Now is the time! Just think of how clean and appealing your home will look after all of this hard work. If you hate cleaning, consult with a San Diego cleaning service to come in and do the dirty work for you.

Contact the Wolf Real Estate Team Today

If you need recommendations for home improvement services around San Diego County, we are happy to provide you with some of our references. Spring home improvements to your San Diego home helps you live a happier life inside your home and gives you a return when it comes time to sell. If you need help buying or selling your home in South Park San Diego, give us a call today or fill out our online contact form.

Neighborhoods in San Diego Similar to Del Cerro

Neighborhoods in San Diego Similar to Del Cerro

When shopping for your new home, you might prefer some neighborhoods over others. This may be due to the schools, close proximity to shopping and restaurants, or perhaps even the vibe that the neighborhood gives you. Whatever the reason may be, we can help you find the perfect neighborhood for you and your family. If you like Del Cerro but it might be out of your budget, here is a list of neighborhoods in San Diego similar to Del Cerro, San Diego.

Neighborhoods in San Diego Similar to Del Cerro

Allied Gardens/San Carlos

Neighboring Del Cerro, both Allied Gardens and San Carlos are similar neighborhoods to Del Cerro. They each have high ranking schools, similar demographics and the suburban feel that comes with living in Del Cerro. If you currently live in Del Cerro and you are searching for a new home to move to, staying in close proximity to Del Cerro will allow for an easier transition for moving and you will find that all of the neighborhoods are quite similar with each other. This means if you currently live in Del Cerro and you are thinking of looking to see what’s out there but you want to stay in your area, don’t limit yourself to just Del Cerro alone. There are plenty of neighborhoods in San Diego similar to Del Cerro.

Mt. Helix

Also close in range to Del Cerro, Mt. Helix is a beautiful area to live in. Surrounded by rolling hills, Mt. Helix also offers highly ranked schools, a sense of community, and a variety of housing choices. Mt. Helix is nearby La Mesa Village so you are still in close proximity to shopping and restaurants if that is important for you. You will also find that housing in the area is in a similar price range as Del Cerro.


If you are trying to move further west during your house hunt in order to be closer to work, Clairemont might be the right option for you. Clairemont offers almost everything you love about Del Cerro, the high ranking schools, beautiful scenery and the nice suburb vibe, but it’s further west, making you closer to San Diego’s central spots and attractions like Downtown, the metro area, and even the beach. Although the median sales price is a bit higher in Clairemont than Del Cerro, living here might shorten your commute and give you a shorter travel time to some of San Diego’s most exciting amenities.

La Mesa

Neighborhoods in San Diego Similar to Del Cerro

Also bordering Del Cerro, you will find that La Mesa is also similar to Del Cerro. Although housing in La Mesa is a bit older than in Del Cerro, the median sales price is less than it is in Del Cerro. More affordable housing can allow you some extra room in your budget for other things like after-school activities for kids, or even vacations. You could even buy a fixer-upper and make the house your own with renovations. The possibilities are endless with more affordable housing in La Mesa. You can also find more of a city-life vibe with the La Mesa village if that is something you want in your future neighborhood. There are lots of shops and restaurants to enjoy in La Mesa.


Just North West of Del Cerro lies Tierrasanta, another suburban neighborhood filled with newer housing, highly ranked schools, and low crime rates. Although Tierrasanta’s median housing sales price is a bit higher than Del Cerro, Tierrasanta is a quiet neighborhood you might find just as enjoyable as Del Cerro if you are broadening your search for housing.

Scripps Ranch

If you are interested in moving north for your new home, you should consider moving to Scripps Ranch area. Like Del Cerro, Scripps Ranch also offers high ranked schools, lots of housing and it’s close to central locations like Mira Mesa (where tons of jobs are). Scripps Ranch has more expensive housing than Del Cerro, but is filled with unique eucalyptus trees and newer developments. You can find a variety of housing options from small condos to large mansions in the hills.


Neighborhoods in San Diego Similar to Del Cerro

If you are willing to go a bit more East of San Diego, Santee is also another great alternative to living in Del Cerro. Santee housing median sales prices are also a bit lower than Del Cerro, giving you more bang for your buck. This area also offers highly ranked schools, a low crime rate, and lots of outdoor activities to enjoy in your free time. Santee is a newer developed city so it offers newer housing options like you would find in Del Cerro. It is also home to lots of shopping and restaurants, so you never have to travel more than ten minutes to find a store or place to eat.


Close to hiking trails, lakes and high ranked schools, Poway is a go-to neighborhood for families looking to move out of the metro area and to a suburban neighborhood to raise their family. Although the housing prices are a bit higher in Poway, many San Diego residents are flocking to this area. According to, the Poway Unified School District currently ranks #2 for top school districts in San Diego. Many families see this and want their children to succeed in school which is why the area is so popular.


If you aren’t worried about your commute, or you are flexible about your future location, East Lake is also a great option in comparison to Del Cerro. Eastlake is a newer development of Chula Vista and San Diego. Median sales prices are lower than Del Cerro, and since it is such a new development, there is lots of inventory in housing and brand new homes. The schools in this area also rank well. If you are okay with the area, this is a smart option for any homebuyers looking for a nice spot to live in and it is one of the San Diego neighborhoods similar to Del Cerro.

Contact the Wolf Real Estate Team

If you are considering selling your home in Del Cerro and need help selling your home and buying your next, we are here to help you. If you need assistance finding your dream home in one of San Diego’s other neighborhoods, we can give you suggestions on which neighborhoods you might find attractive. Contact the Wolf Real Estate Team today for all of your real estate needs.

Sell your home in San Diego

Signs it’s Time to Sell Your Home

There comes a moment in your life when you decide that it might be time to sell your home. Whether you have your eye on that gorgeous remodel down the street, you are moving, or maybe you just want to be closer to the beach, selling your home in today’s hot housing market in San Diego is a smart move. Find out the top reasons San Diego residents are choosing to sell their homes and to see if it’s the right move for you.

Your Family is Growingsell your home in San Diego

This is one of the most common reasons people decide to sell. The small condo that was large enough for newlyweds no longer fits the toddler and baby on the way. To avoid feeling overcrowded when your family is growing, consider moving to a larger home. This will give you an ease of mind and provide your family with lots of space to create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you want to stay in the same area or are looking for an affordable suburb to raise your family in with good schools, our South Park real estate agents can help you find the perfect home for your family and their needs.

There is Not Enough Space

Maybe your family isn’t growing but your collection of musical instruments is. Whatever the reason is, you might need more space. Your home can’t grow unless you decide to add onto it or put up a shed in the backyard for your hobbies and collections. Moving to a larger home will give you that additional space you need to live a happier life. Talk to our real estate agents about what you need the extra room for, whether it be for storage or a personal office. They will find the perfect home for you in San Diego.

There is Too Much Space

Your kids or other family members may have already moved out and now the 5 bedroom house in the suburbs is beginning to feel a bit lonely. This is a sign that it’s time to downsize! This is an optimal solution for those who are entering retirement age or want to save money and make some equity in their home. Having too much space means extra house and yard maintenance and cleaning you don’t want to do. Sell your home, make some money, and use that for a smaller place and use your profit for retirement or that vacation you have always wanted to take.

You are Over Your Neighborhoodsell your home in San Diego

There can be several reasons you no longer like your neighborhood. Maybe a lot of college kids have moved in, or your HOA fees and rules are through the roof. Whatever your reason may be, if you are sick of your neighborhood, then it’s time to sell your house. There’s no point in staying in your house if you are unhappy. Sometimes change is good, and there are so many affordable neighborhoods in San Diego with so much to offer like good schools, trendy restaurants and things to do.

You’re Not Happy with Your Home

Whether there is not enough storage space, the yard is too small, or you absolutely hate not having a pool. Whatever the reason might be with why you hate your home and why you’re not even going to consider remodeling, this is a good enough reason you should start looking for your new home and put your current one on the market. Consult with an experienced real estate agent in San Diego to help you sell your current home in San Diego for a profit and to help you find your new home!

You Know the Real Estate Market is Hot

The current housing market in San Diego is hot, meaning houses are selling for a top price. Inventory is down from last year while prices are up, this makes the market competitive and houses fly off the market in a faster time than before. Right now is a great time to sell because you will make a huge profit on your home and you won’t have to wait long for it to sell.

You Want Better Schools for Your Children

One of the top reasons families in San Diego decide to move is to move to one of the suburbs with the top schools in San Diego. San Diego residents are flocking to Del Cerro, Mt. Helix, Carmel Mountain, Tierrasanta and Poway for some of the best-rated schools in San Diego. This will provide a better education for their children. Talk to the Wolf Real Estate Team to find out their recommendations for neighborhoods with the best schools in San Diego.

sell your home in San Diego

You Don’t Want to Remodel

If you are unhappy with your home, there are two options: remodel or move. Remodeling can be costly and doesn’t guarantee you will make more money when you decide to sell. In addition, it takes a lot of time. Some people choose to just find a new house instead of customizing their own to make to their liking. If you are not interested in remodeling, selling your home in San Diego is the right choice for you.

You Know Interest Rates are Low

Interest rates for home mortgages are currently just below 4{297c5c6b3ea17e3fbdea31491536c8876720203ac47d87d9888529190191d255} which is a record low. This means it’s a great time to apply for a home loan as it will save you money on interest in the long run.

You Can Afford to Move

Moving can be expensive. If you are choosing to buy again, you will need to have a plan and money set aside for the transition between selling your home and moving into your new one. This means you may need to rent a place out for a while. There is also the cost of movers, a new down payment and more. Consider all costs before selling your home.

Ready to Sell Your Home in San Diego? Contact the Wolf Real Estate Team

If you read this blog and decided it is time for you to sell your San Diego home, contact the Wolf Real Estate Team today to find out how we can help you sell your home for top dollar and help you buy your new dream home.

san carlos San Diego

San Carlos San Diego Neighborhood Guide

Bordering Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, Tierrasanta, Santee and El Cajon is San Carlos San Carlos is one of San Diego’s top neighborhoods to raise a family in. The Wolf Real Estate Team recognizes San Carlos as being a prime location for families looking to move to the San Diego suburbs for more affordable housing, high ranked schools, and low criminal activity neighborhoods. Continue reading to find out if you should buy a home in San Carlos.

San Carlos Neighborhood Overview

san carlos san diego neighborhood guide

San Carlos is one of the suburbs located in East San Diego County and consists mainly of single-family homes and recreation areas. Families are drawn to the area for its affordable housing, beautiful rolling hills scenery, the closeness to shopping and restaurants, the low criminal activitiy neighborhoods and of course, for the high ranked schools. Many families move from metro San Diego to San Carlos for larger houses to live in, homes with yards, and the suburb experience.

Neighborhood Safety in San Carlos, San Diego

san carlos crime

San Carlos has some of the lowest crime rates in San Diego. In the past month, they have only had a few records of crimes taking place in the area. The most common crime seemed to be theft. San Carlos scored an A- score for crime on Crime in San Carlos is almost half as much as the San Diego average. San Carlos scored 1,406 accounts of crime per 100,000 people while San Diego scored 2,402 for 100,000 people.

San Carlos Schools

Some of the top-ranked schools according to includes Hearst Elementary School, Marvin Elementary School, Tierrasanta Elementary School, and College Preparatory Middle School, all ranked with a 10/10. Other Schools in the San Carlos area include Helix High School, Green Elementary School, and Patrick Henry High School each ranked with a 9/10 score. If you are looking for a neighborhood to raise a family in for the amazing public education, San Carlos is the San Diego neighborhood for you.

Community Activities in San Carlos

san carlos recreation center

The San Carlos Recreation center has tons of activities for community members to participate in. In addition, it also has different youth programs for your kids like basketball, volleyball, flag football, gymnastics, ballet and even skills classes. During school breaks, they offer different camps for kids to attend. Both Lake Murray and Mission Trails have events going on all year long including guided trail tours, 4th of July Fireworks, nature walks and more. Visit the recreation center website to find out more about different youth programs in San Carlos as well as events going on at Mission Trails.

San Carlos Things to Do

cowles mountain
via Flikr

There’s no shortage of things to do in San Carlos, San Diego. Whether you want child-friendly activities or want a personal escape, there’s something to do for everyone. Start your day off right by taking a run around Lake Murray or climbing to the top of Cowles Mountain. Not into running or hiking? Take a bike ride around Lake Murray, try out rock climbing or mountain biking in Mission Trails, or even spend some time fishing on the lake. San Carlos is also home to Dailard Neighborhood Park, Rancho Mission Canyon, the Mission Trails Golf Course, and the San Carlos Golf Course.

If the outdoors aren’t your thing, you can head over to Grossmont Center just miles away to catch a movie or do a bit of shopping. San Carlos has several shopping areas off of Navajo Road and Lake Murray Blvd. You will never need to drive more than 10 minutes to find a place to shop at or restaurant to eat at. You are also only a twenty minute drive to the beach so if you are moving from a more central location over to San Carlos, you don’t need to worry about having a long drive to the beach or central San Diego locations; they are only a short drive away.

San Carlos Restaurants & Coffee

Some of the resident’s favorite spots to grab a bite includes The Trails Eatery which offers mouthwatering breakfast and brunch options, Tak Grill Fresh Mediterranean Food for Greek and Persian/Iranian food, and Cheers Deli & Liquor for delicious homemade sandwiches. There are plenty of restaurant options in San Carlos that can satisfy every craving. There is a restaurant of every cuisine including Italian, Thai, Mexican and even Sushi. If you want more options, you just need to drive 10 minutes to La Mesa for even more food and shopping options.

san carlos demographics
via city-data

San Carlos Demographics

Population (via City-Data): 15,000

Estimated Median House Sales Price in January 2018 (via SDAR): $625,000

Estimated Median Condo/Detached House Value in January 2018 (via SDAR): $323,000

Median Gross Rent 2016 (via City-Data): $1,500


Affordable Real Estate in San Carlos

san carlos home for sale

Housing in San Carlos, San Diego is relatively affordable when compared to other neighborhoods that draw families in like South Park, North Park, Normal Heights and Point Loma. The median sales price for a single-family home in January of 2018 is $625,000 while the median sales price for condos/townhouses was $323,000. San Carlos has some of the most affordable housing in San Diego. Many families are moving out of the metro area and taking the profit they earned on their just sold home and using that to buy a bigger and more upgraded home in San Carlos.

Although the housing is more affordable in San Carlos, that doesn’t mean this isn’t a smart investment opportunity. San Carlos is a competitive housing market just like the rest of San Diego. Housing prices continue to increase while inventory is also dropping. The competitive market means there will be buyers fighting over your property, ensuring you will make a profit off your home when you or other family members decide to sell the home. You should also consider renting the property out if you don’t want to sell your home when you no longer need it, rental prices in San Carlos are even higher than what your mortgage will be. Since so many people struggle to buy homes, renting out your property is a great investment. If you are interested in buying or selling your home in San Carlos, contact the Wolf Real Estate Team today.