Pilot program to help middle-income home buyers

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Sujata Raman helps first-time home buyers at a time when buying a first home has become a massive challenge.

“Civil service servants, firefighters, police officers, and school teachers have found it very unaffordable to be able to purchase a home,” Raman said. “And there’s not really any program anywhere for middle-income families.”

A report last month from the National Association of Realtors found those at the median household income in America – basically, the middle class – can afford fewer than a quarter of homes on the market.

“There simply aren’t enough homes these days relative to the demand for people who want to buy homes,” said J.P. Walsh of the Urban Institute.

The organization produced a report specifically for San Diego. It found the number of homes on the market had dropped 80% in fewer than four years. The report also revealed that Black and Hispanic residents were getting priced out.

“No one wants to give up their current mortgage and sell and move into other homes,” said Raman, “which is why first-time homebuyers are not able to buy a home. That lower-priced inventory just doesn’t exist.”

SEE MORE: Could climbing interest rates tame home prices?

Middle-income home buyers are now moving into neighborhoods that were once considered spots for low-income home buyers.

“We’re finding families cashing out their 401Ks to come up with a down payment amount,” Raman said.

The San Diego Housing Commission has started a pilot program for first-time middle-class home buyers of color. If you qualify demographically and financially, you receive $20,000 toward a down payment and $20,000 toward closing costs. It’s funded mainly by a $7.5 million private grant. 

“We launched our BIPOC middle-income program just about a month ago,” Raman said. “And I would say we’re easily getting 200-300 inquiries per day from home buyers and loan officers.”

SEE MORE: How AI is changing the competitive real estate market

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