Jeff’s Carlsbad Blog for First Time Home Buyers


Down Payment Assistance Programs in San Diego

First time home buyers can no longer take advantage of the Federal First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, but if you are in California you CAN take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit of up to $10K that California has over a 3-year period.

Read more about the California 2010 First-Time Buyer Tax Credit

A number of first time home buyers in Southern California may also qualify for one of the down payment assistance programs in San Diego.

These programs have income (maximum) guidelines based on total household size, but they offer a pretty decent amount of money for down payments (and in some programs for closing costs). The cool thing is there are no payments until you sell the home.

Want to learn more?

Read the article I just posted on Down Payment Assistance Programs in San Diego.

What You Should Know about Buyer’s Closing Costs

This article is specifically written for buyers in  California where we use escrow companies, as opposed to attorneys, to complete the transaction. But lots of this information may still apply, and it’s worthwhile to consider the overall concept – thinking ahead about your CLOSING COSTS.

Closing Costs can really add up - be prepared

Folks who have bought before will have some idea of this already, but first time buyers are often surprised at the fees they have to pay, on top of the mortgage, during their purchase. A savvy agent can, and should, share information with you about the fees you can expect, some of which depend on the price of the home.

If you aren’t being told, or the topic has not yet come up, ASK. You don’t want any big surprises.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in the case of SHORT SALES and REOs (foreclosures) the fees may be higher because the bank will not approve paying some of the normal seller-paid fees.

READ MORE: Some Home Buying Costs You ay Not Think About (Part 2 of 3) – Escrow and Closing Costs


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Visit my Real Estate Consumer Blog at Carlsbad Real Estate News for lots of information about the general area

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

The Obvious, and Hidden, Costs of Buying a Home

No doubt buying a home these days is expensive. Particularly in some parts of the country such as Southern California.

Many of the costs are obvious, but some are expenses buyers don’t necessarily think about, or are somewhat hidden.

In this first article of 3, the focus is on the costs you may incur during the home search, as well as after you get an offer acceptance. Because some folks are backing out of deals, or having them fall apart (especially the short sales and foreclosures [REOs]), there may be fees you are paying even though you don’t end up with the home you want.

Read more about some of the home buying costs you may not think about (Part 1 of 3)


Search for Homes Community Information Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

Visit my Real Estate Consumer Blog at Carlsbad Real Estate News for lots of information about the general area

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

Do You Have Proof of Funds?

Posted in Financial,Offers by Jeff Dowler on April 27, 2010
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Proof of funds (POF) can be an important component of your offer.

If you are a buyer with a down payment, it may be in your best interest to submit an offer with proof of funds. While this may only be required in the case of REOs and short sales as we see here in Southern California, I think it may be in your best interest, and make your offer more competitive, if you include a copy of a bank statement or other record (black out those account numbers) to prove you have the funds for the down payment.

If you are a cash buyer this is pretty much a MUST DO part of your offer.

Your state contract may require this, as ours does, after offer acceptance, but why not show your interest and your financial capability to the seller up front.

Search for Homes Community Information Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

Visit my Real Estate Consumer Blog at Carlsbad Real Estate News for lots of information about the general area

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

Summary of FEDERAL and CALIFORNIA Tax Credits

Posted in Financial,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on April 12, 2010
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Time is running out to get in on the Federal tax credits.

But if you are able to put a California home under contract BY APRIL 30, 2010 and CLOSE after MAY 1, you could get both the Federal and California state tax credit (up to a total of $18,000!!).

Here’s a handy dandy summary of what you need to know to take advantage of these tax credits.

Search for Homes Community Information Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

Visit my Real Estate Consumer Blog at Carlsbad Real Estate News for lots of information about the general area

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

The Importance of Your Credit Score – What it Is, and What You Can Do to Improve It

Posted in Financial,Mortgage info by Jeff Dowler on April 4, 2010
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Having a strong credit history and score is critical in this buying market, especially since the banks are getting stricter with their lending requirements and the scores that are acceptable.

Many folks are not really even aware of their credit score and history until they start looking into buying a home. And sometimes there are errors that buyers are not aware of.

There are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score, as well as things you should not do because they will lower your score.

This article by a friend of mine back East is an excellent overview of what the FICO (credit score) is, what impacts it, and how you can improve it. A VERY worthwhile read.

Increasing FICO Scores to Purchase a Home


Search for Homes Community Information Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

Visit my Real Estate Consumer Blog at Carlsbad Real Estate News for lots of information about the general area

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

NEW Tax Credits for California Homebuyers

Posted in Financial,Taxes,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on March 26, 2010
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Here is some great news if you are planning on buying a home, or thinking about it.


New legislation signed yesterday by the Governor approved new state tax credits for:

  • First Time Home Buyers


  • Buyers of NEW homes (i.e., new construction or never occupied before)

The NEW TAX CREDIT is up to $10,000. And if you time it right you COULD receive up to $18,000 (provided you meet all the qualifications) if combined with the current federal program that is ending soon. You would need to CLOSE on your new home ON or AFTER May 1, 2010 and ON or BEFORE June 30, 2010.

Let me know if you have questions or need help making your home buying dream a reality! It’s important to also consult a tax professional to see if you qualify and what the tax implications might be. The credit for Californians is paid out over 3 years.

READ MORE: California Home Buyers – New Tax Credits Coming Your Way


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All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

Misconceptions About the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit

Posted in FAQs,Financial,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on February 13, 2010
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First of all, don’t forget that this credit is not going to last forever.

The DEADLINE to get the credit is APRIL 30, 2010 (You must have your new home under contract by that date, i.e., a binding sales contract, and CLOSE by the end of June).  So if you are going after a short sale, you may lose out given what we know about how these transactions get delayed.

A misconception is the amount of the credit for first time home buyers.

Folks often think it is an automatic $8000. Buy a $60,000 condo and you get a credit of $8000.

WRONG. Unfortunately.

BUT, the credit is UP TO $8000 based on the purchase price of the home, with the credit being 10% of the purchase price.

THIS IS A CORRECTION TO MY ORIGINAL POST (thanks to a recent reader) So an $80,000 purchase yields a credit of $8,000, depending, of course on income (there are limits in the plan) and your personal tax situation.

Another important point is the ARM’S-LENGTH TRANSACTION – you can read more about this in an article by a friend of mine, MISSY CAULK, in Ann Arbor, Michigan (It must be an Arms-Length Transaction to Claim the Tax Credit). BTW if you are looking to by OR sell a home in Ann Arbor, Missy is THE REAL ESTATE AGENT to call. Tell her I sent you!

READ MORE about the first time home buyer’s tax credit and commonly asked questions.

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All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

Changes Coming in FHA Loans

Posted in Financial,Mortgage info by Jeff Dowler on January 31, 2010
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Many first time buyers pursue FHA loans because they do not qualify for other conventional loans with higher down payment requirements, issues with credit scores and other issues. Indeed many home sales in the last year have been FHA financed.

Because of some financial issues, FHA has announced some changed in their loan qualifications and requirements. For example:

  • Those with credit scores of less than 580 will be required to put down 10%. Those with at least a score of 580 will still be able to put down just 3.5% (the current amount)
  • The up-front mortgage insurance premium will rise from $1.75% to 2.25%

You can read the FHA full press release here.

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All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

New Changes in FHA Mortgages

Posted in Financial,Mortgage info by Jeff Dowler on January 21, 2010
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Lots of buyers, especially first time home buyers, have used or want to use a FHA loan to purchase their home. A primary reason is the low down-payment that has been a hallmark for FHA for sometime (recently raised from 3% to 3.5%).

If you are currently qualified, or hope to use an FHA loan, LISTEN UP.

There are some new changes in FHA Mortgages.

Jeff Belonger is a mortgage broker and friend in Philadelphia who writes often about FHA. Rather than try to summarize these changes, I suggest you hop on over to his article about FHA Loans.

READ MORE about FHA on the HUD website.

Search for Homes Community Information First Time Home Buyers Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

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