first time homebuyer grants in san diego

First-Time Homebuyer Programs in San Diego

San Diego has some of the highest rent in the nation which is why you might be considering buying your first home! When you choose to pay for a mortgage instead of rent, you will no longer have to worry every year if your landlord is going to surprise you with a large rent increase. With a mortgage, you will have a consistent payment the entire time if you choose a fixed rate. Once it’s paid off, you won’t have any rent or mortgage to pay! San Diego is filled with first-time homebuyers who aren’t aware of all of the programs available to them through the city of San Diego and through the government. Purchasing your first home might be more within your reach than you thought. Read through the different first-time homebuyer programs in San Diego and then give the Wolf Real Estate Team a call today to find your dream home in San Diego!

Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance in San Diego

first time homebuyer grants in san diego

First-time homebuyers with low income may qualify for deferred payment loans for up to 17% of the price of the property to pay for the down payment. You can also qualify for a deferred payment loan for up to 4% or $10,000 of closing costs. To be eligible for this amazing program in San Diego, the purchase price of your home must not exceed $437,000. In addition, this must be your primary residence. Other requirements include income requirements. Your income must not exceed 80% of the San Diego Area Median Income (AMI). You can check if you’re eligible here. In addition, you must be able to contribute a minimum of 3% of the purchase price to the sale. You must also have not owned a home in the past 3 years.

This program only applies to the cities that are unincorporated in San Diego. Cities include Coronado, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar, La Mesa, Imperial Beach, Poway, Lemon Grove, Santee, San Marcos, Vista, or Solana Beach. Lastly, you don’t need to make payments on the loan until you have paid off your mortgage, sell the house, or no longer live there. The loan must be repaid in one payment that equals any accrued interest plus the original principal loan amount.

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Homeownership Grant Program in San Diego

This grant also applies to San Diego residents whose family income does not exceed 80% of San Diego’s median income. The homeownership grant helps residents with paying for their down payment as well as closing costs. This grant is forgiven at the close of escrow and must be used with the SDHC Deferred Loan Program. The homeownership grant gives you up to 4% of the purchase price, or appraised value, depending on which is less.

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Mortgage Credit Certificate

Homeowners can qualify for a federal income tax credit of 20% of their mortgage’s annual interest paid. Qualified homebuyers should have income that does not exceed 140% of the AMI. This tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in that homeowner’s federal tax liability. This tax liability increases the household’s income that helps them qualify for their mortgage loan make their monthly payments. If a homebuyer sells their new home within 9 years, they may need to pay a recapture tax. Find out more about the mortgage credit certificate and if it can help you purchase your first home.

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Other First-Time Homebuyer Information

FHA Loan

Thanks to the Federal Housing Administration, you can qualify for an FHA loan that gives you competitive interest rates, lower closing costs and a down payment as small as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. This allows you to purchase a house without a huge 20% down payment that can take years to save for, especially in San Diego. Talk to a lender to find out how much you can afford to buy and then calculate what a 3.5% down payment for that will be.

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VA Loan

VA Loan

If you or your spouse is an active-duty military member, a veteran or a surviving spouse, you qualify for this loan. A VA loan comes with a competitive interest rate and you don’t need to put down a down payment. You also don’t need to pay for a private mortgage insurance or have a minimum credit score to be eligible.

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Good Neighbor Next Door

good neighbor next door

Sponsored by the HUD, the Good Neighbor Next Door program provides housing aid to firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical techs, and even teachers from pre-k to kindergarten. The program can allow you to receive as much as a 50% discount if you live in a “revitalization area.” You have to commit to living in the home for at least 36 months.

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Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loans are government-sponsored entities used through local lenders to offer different mortgage options to benefit low to moderate-income families. They offer competitive interest rates as well as down payments as low as 3%.

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FHA Section 203(k)

FHA Loan

If you’ve got your heart set on buying a fixer-upper, this is the loan for you! This program allows you to make improvements on your property by giving you the funds you need to do so. You can make a down payment as low as 3% with this program.

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Energy-Efficient Mortgage (EEM)

EEM loan

This energy efficient or green mortgage can help you make improvements to your home to make it environmentally friendly. EEM loans are supported by the federal government and are insured with VA or FHA programs. This loan allows you to borrow more money with a smaller down payment so you can make those upgrades in your home like adding double-paned windows, modern cooling or heating systems or even new insulation. If you’re planning on upgrading your home to make it eco-friendlier anyways, you should consider the EEM loan. This will actually save you in the long-run with energy costs!

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Ready to Buy Your First Home Now?

Now that you know all about the different first-time homebuyer programs in San Diego, find one that you qualify for! Once you get the approval, the Wolf Real Estate Team is here to help you find a dream home that works with your program. Give us a call or fill out our online form and we will be in contact with you soon.

enhance your curb appeal with mailbox and house numbers

10 Ways to Enhance Your Curb Appeal for your San Diego Home for Sale

When it comes to selling your home, curb appeal matters more than anything! According to NAR (the National Association of Realtors), 63% of homebuyers will come view a home after seeing one they like online. That means they will drive by the property to develop a first impression. If your home isn’t appealing at first glance, you won’t expect to hear from them. To make sure your home has a good first impression, find out the top 10 ways to enhance your curb appeal for your San Diego home for sale.

1. Your Curb Appeal Begins Online

Over 88% of homebuyers begin their home search online, meaning, the photos of your home are critical for attracting buyers to your home. It’s wise to invest in professional photography and to find the perfect lighting and staging in your home to enhance the pictures even further. If you don’t have quality photos, it’s very likely many homebuyers will overlook your home. With quality photos, more people are going to be drawn in to actually view your home in person. This simple investment can make all the difference!

We suggest finding the time of day where there isn’t too much sunlight otherwise photos may have a glow effect. It’s been found that overcast days are actually good lighting days to shoot the inside of your home. Take a few test shots before your professional photographer arrives (if you have one) to see what you can do to enhance the photos. This may mean storing away some of your valuables or adding small touches throughout your home. Make sure your home is clean and doesn’t display any clutter.

2. Act Like You’re Buying Your Home

Take a walk in one of your potential buyer’s shoes and do a walkthrough of your own home. Pay attention to every detail that you would look for when buying a home for yourself. Bring a notepad and take notes about things you notice that you think other home buyers would notice. This will help you come up with a list of things that need to be repaired or cleaned before taking photos or hosting an open house.

3. Look Up!

enhance your curb appeal with roof repair

Many people don’t pay attention to their roof but it’s one of the most critical curb appeal items. If your roof is missing any shingles or it looks dingy or streaked, you might want to consider repairing your roof or cleaning it to make it look better. A clean or new roof will help enhance your curb appeal more than you would think!

4. Add New House Numbers

enhance your curb appeal with mailbox and house numbers

Dirty, dingy or hard to read house numbers are a simple fix that has a huge impact. Browse online stores or take a trip to your local home store to find shiny new house numbers that are elegant and suit the style of your house. Simply install these to freshen up your curb appeal.

5. Ask Your Friends and Family for their Opinion

Just like you did a mock walk-through of your home like you were a home buyer, consider asking your friends and family to also do a walkthrough and to give you their notes at the end. They might catch cobwebs, cracked sidewalks, chipped paint and other details that take away from your home’s curb appeal. You can then reorganize your priority list of items that need to be repaired or cleaned.

6. Power Wash!

If you love watching power washing videos, you’re going to love this curb appeal tip. Borrow a pressure washer, rent one or purchase one and take it to the outside of your home. Pressure wash your deck, sidewalks, driveway and even the outside of your home if it’s dirty. This will help your home have a beautiful new and clean looking appearance that will really appeal to homebuyers. This will help remove any oil stains in your drive, dirt from sidewalks and the outside of your home and be a cost-efficient way to enhance your curb appeal.

7. Add Some Color to Your Yard

enhance your curb appeal

Planting some new plants is a cost-effective and easy way to increase the curb appeal of your home. If you have empty flower pots around the yard, add some fresh soil and easy to care for plants. These will help spruce up your yard and give you an instant lift! Never plant any fake flowers or plants, this will turn buyers away.

8. Let There Be Light!

enhance your curb appeal open your windows

Opening your blinds, shutters, and curtains is an easy way to bring in lots of natural light into your home. Homebuyers look for homes that are bright, clean and airy! Crack open a window and let there be a nice flow of fresh air (unless it’s cold or very hot outside). Make sure your home’s temperature is comfortable and the lighting helps showcase its best features.

9. Light Up the Outside

Light up the outside of your home or your landscaping with some cost-efficient solar-powered lights. These are easy to install and really make a difference when you need to highlight specific features of your home’s best qualities. Place these solar powered lights along pathways, throughout the landscaping or in places that are normally quite dark. A buyer will most likely drop by your home at night to see what it’s like and this can help persuade their interest in your home.

10. Finishing Touches to Enhance Your Curb Appeal

The last way to enhance your curb appeal is by doing some easy finishing touches. Repaint the front door, any trim on the outside and shutters if you have them. You can also replace your mailbox, add a new porch light fixture and add an inviting new welcome mat!

Need Help Selling Your Home?

Now that you know how to enhance your curb appeal, it’s time to find some San Diego real estate agents to help you make the sale. The Wolf Real Estate Team can help advise you on enhancing your curb appeal and all other factors that go into selling your home. We can help you sell your home in this competitive market so you can receive top dollar. Don’t wait, give us a call today or fill out our online contact form.

high ranking schools in del cerro

High Ranking Schools in Del Cerro San Diego

Finding the ideal neighborhood for your family can be tough in San Diego. With housing prices on the rise, some families are looking to move from San Diego’s metro area like South Park, North Park or Mission Hills to move to Del Cerro for cheaper housing and the high ranking schools. Not only do you need to love the home you’re going to buy, but you should also be a fan of your new neighborhood, its amenities and of course, its schools if you have children or if you’re thinking about your future children. Del Cerro has some of the top-ranked schools in San Diego. Continue reading to learn more about high ranking schools in Del Cerro and the schools in the nearby area.

Elementary Schools

Hearst Elementary School

high ranking schools in del cerro

Technically the only elementary school in Del Cerro, Hearst Elementary School is amongst the top-ranked schools in the Del Cerro area. Ranking a 10 on greatschools.org and an A- on niche.com, Hearst Elementary is a diverse elementary school with excellent test scores, creative and performing arts programs like art, music and dance, after-school programs, as well as before and after school care for busy families. Hearst Elementary has 71% of students reading at a proficient level. 76% of students work at a proficient math level. The school has 496 students with a 26:1 student-teacher ratio.

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Marvin Elementary School

high ranking schools in del cerro

Located on the border of Del Cerro and San Carlos, Marvin Elementary resides. With a score of 10 on greatschools.org and an A- grade on niche.com, Marvin Elementary is just one of the high ranking schools in Del Cerro to send your child to for elementary education. Marvin Elementary offers GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) programs, instrumental music classes, a library, physical education, Old Town and Balboa Park learning programs, San Diego Police Department Programs as well as special education programs. They also have after-school programs. There are approximately 421 students at Marvin with a student to teacher ratio of 23 to 1. 67% of students are proficient at reading while 57% test proficiently at math.

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Green Elementary School

high ranking schools in del cerro

Also located on the San Carlos, Del Cerro border, Green Elementary School also ranks high in the Del Cerro area. With a score of 9 on greatschools.org and an A- on niche.com, Green Elementary is an excellent choice for your child’s education. Green Elementary also offers GATE programs as well as after-school programs and physical education. Green Elementary contains about 492 students with a teacher to student ratio of 25 to 1. 67% of students at Green are testing at a proficient math level and 69% are testing at a proficient reading level.

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Benchley-Weinberger Elementary

high ranking schools in del cerro

Located near the picturesque hills of Mission Trails Regional Park, Benchley-Weinberger Elementary focuses on their student’s achievement through the use of communication. Students have the opportunity to film, produce and edit their own news show for the school and can learn alternative communication through music, sign language, art, pen pals, email pals and physical education. The school also offers GATE programs as well as YMCA before and after school care. Benchley-Weinberger Elementary grades an A- on niche.com and a 9 on greatschools.org. The school has 556 students with a student to teacher ratio of 25 to 1. The number of students reading proficiently is at 72% with 69% being proficient at math. If high ranking schools in Del Cerro are what you’re searching for your next move, you have plenty of elementary school options to suit your child’s needs.

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Middle Schools

Pershing Middle School

high ranking schools in del cerro

Pershing Middle School is the only middle school located in the Del Cerro area. Although it’s the only middle school, Pershing Middle School has high rankings and offers students a great experience throughout their middle school years. Some of the exciting courses available to students include band, orchestra, pre-engineering and technology classes, or Spanish. There are also after-school activities like an after-school musical and theatre club that puts on musicals every year. There are about 701 students who attend Pershing with a student to teacher ratio of 22 to 1. 47% of students tested proficient in math while 59% tested proficient in reading. Niche.com ranked Pershing as a B+ and greatschools.org scored them with an 8.

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High Schools

Patrick Henry High School

high ranking schools in del cerro

With an A grade on niche.com and a 9 on greatschools.org, Patrick Henry High School is an excellent choice for high schools in San Diego. Patrick Henry offers a multitude of elective classes to help students find their niche. This includes visual and performing arts, engineering, computer science, journalism, music, physical education and more. They also offer a wide variety of clubs, sports and after-school programs for students to be involved with. Patrick Henry has a graduation rate of 97% with a large number of students attending college afterward. The average SAT score was 1190, while the average ACT score was 27. 31% of students are enrolled in AP classes. In addition, 61% of students read proficiently while 49% are proficient at math.

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Grossmont Middle College High School

high ranking schools in del cerro

Also located in the Del Cerro area is Grossmont Middle College High School. This unique school is for grades 11 and 12. Students attend Grossmont Community College part-time while attending high school courses part-time. Students are to complete 6 college units per semester. To graduate, students must complete 24 college credits which can then be transferred over to a 4-year university! This is a great way to get a jump start on college and to save money on future college courses. Greatschools.org rates Grossmont Middle College as an 8 while niche.com gives it an A. It currently has 70 students enrolled with a student to teacher ratio of 17 to 1. There is a 90% graduation rate with an average SAT of 1230 and average ACT score of 29.

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Find a House for Sale in Del Cerro San Diego

If reading about the high ranking schools in Del Cerro has influenced you to move to Del Cerro in any way, feel free to give the Wolf Real Estate Team a call for help finding the perfect home for you. We are real estate agents with lots of experience selling and buying homes in the Del Cerro area. Contact us today!

Big Kitchen Cafe

Top 10 Restaurants in South Park San Diego

The Wolf Real Estate Team is native to South Park San Diego, which is why we’re an ideal team to help you choose a home to buy in South Park. Buying a home in South Park is so much more than just finding a home you love, you must also fall in love with the neighborhood. One of the top reasons people choose to move to South Park is for all of the neighborhood amenities like some of San Diego’s top restaurants. Learn more about this neighborhood amenity to find out if South Park is the right choice for you.

1. Buona Forchetta

Buona Forchetta

Known for their pizza in a jar, Buona Forchetta is your go-to destination for authentic Italian food. The restaurant is run by Italian immigrants themselves. All of the pasta, pizza, and dishes are homemade, giving you a fresh taste from Italy. Stop by to enjoy the intimate and cozy atmosphere and to fill your stomach with pasta.

2. Kindred

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One of San Diego’s few vegan restaurants, Kindred offers you an eating out experience that doesn’t leave you feeling terrible afterward. If you’re considering going down the vegan route or are interested in trying vegan food for the first time, Kindred is a smart spot to try. If vegan food isn’t for you, they also have a full bar with lots of tasty drinks.

3. Piacere Mio


Craving authentic Italian food? Head over to Piacere Mio on the corner of Fir St. and Grape St. Piacere Mio is a small and cozy Italian restaurant that will warm your heart with wine and fresh Italian food. From traditional Italian food and amazing wine to the large seafood menu, you can enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner here every day. They take reservations, so you can plan ahead of time.

4. Station Tavern & Burgers

Station Tavern

Located at what used to be South Park’s old trolley line from 1929-1948, Station Tavern & Burgers holds a piece of San Diego history to accompany you with your burgers and beer. This dog-friendly restaurant is the perfect spot to grab lunch before going to the South Park dog park. Station Tavern & Burgers offers a wide menu of burgers, tater tots and craft beer to choose from.

5. La Taqueria Vegiee SD

Restaurants in South Park San Diego are not short of vegan restaurants. Although this is a food truck, La Taqueria Vegiee SD has vegan versions of all of your favorite tacos. Loaded with veggies, you wouldn’t even expect tacos to be so delicious and healthy without meat. This food truck resides in the Target parking lot at the corner of Grape St. and Fern St.

6. Big Kitchen Cafe

Big Kitchen Cafe

Open for breakfast and lunch every day, Big Kitchen Cafe is the perfect spot to grab a fresh breakfast and lunch in South Park. All of the food is fresh and all baked goods are made daily to give you some great tasting food. Although it’s a small location with a hole-in-the-wall feel, Big Kitchen Cafe is the perfect spot to enjoy a cozy breakfast and lunch.

7. Mazara Trattoria

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As your third option for Italian food in South Park San Diego, Mazara Trattoria is a family-run business that has been around for over 30 years. Their menu ranges from pasta, pizza, calzones to salad and more. They also have a wide selection of craft beers and wines. Whether you want to dine in or enjoy a free delivery to your home, Mazara Trattoria offers a family vibe and delicious food.

8. Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro


If you care about dessert just as much as you care about your meal, Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro is the perfect spot for you. Head over for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner and enjoy a wide menu of your favorite breakfast items, paninis, soup, and salads. If your sweet tooth is your main concern, choose from a variety of dessert options as well as hot cocoas. Hate waiting for a table? You can make a reservation at this South Park restaurant. Stop by for a decadent experience.

9. The Rose

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The Rose is the perfect restaurant in South Park for any wine lover. With a huge wine list to choose from, you can pair your favorite wine with your favorite brunch plate, or stop by after brunch to enjoy with an appetizer, flatbread, or meat and cheese plate. If wine isn’t for you, there are also several beers and other drinks to choose from.

10. Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood

Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood

Who knew South Park San Diego was home to so many popular food trucks? Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood offers a budget-friendly delicious Mexican food experience. In the same parking lot as La Taqueria Vegiee SD, Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood offers a variety of fresh fish tacos and tostadas to choose from! With raving reviews about the food quality, large portion sizes and cheap prices, Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood is a must-go-to stop in South Park if you enjoy Mexican seafood.

Thinking of Moving to South Park San Diego?

The Wolf Real Estate Team are natives of South Park San Diego. If you’re interested in moving to South Park, get into contact with us. We will end up as one of your neighbors, so who better to show you the neighborhood than a potential neighbor? One of the highlights of living in South Park is the large variety of amenities in the neighborhood. From boutique shops to the variety of restaurants, there’s always something to do in South Park. If you’re interested in the neighborhood, browse some of the houses for sale in South Park to see if any stand out for you. Whether you want to sell your home, buy a new one, or have questions about San Diego real estate, we are here to help you. Give us a call at 858-722-6847 or fill out our online form to get in contact with us.

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.