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.


Are You Really Ready to Buy a Home?

I decided to re-post this article that I wrote quite some time ago. Given the difficulties in this market, with short sales and foreclosures (REOs or bank-owned properties), knowing if you are really ready to buy is critical. Not everyone is prepared for what they have to deal with when buying a home.

And certainly being financially able is essential or you are wasting your time.

One question to ask yourself is if you are REALLY ready to buy or are you just looking right now? While you may be thinking you are ready, your behavior may suggest the time is not quite right.

The questions below will help you determine if you are truly prepared to buy…emotionally, psychologically and financially.

  • Will you be paying cash or have you arranged for financing?
  • Do you have a house or condo to sell?
  • Do you have a lease you can break or are you tick for an extended period of time?
  • If you went out today and found your dream home, what would you do?
  • Do you have a good idea of what you are looking for and what you are willing to trade off?
  • Why do you want to buy a new house? Do you have some good reasons (space, financial psychological) for wanting to buy?
  • You know yourself better than anyone. Can you HONESTLY say (and look yourself in the face in a mirror!) that you are emotionally, psychologically and financially ready to go? This is a tough one for the first time buyer, and an “unsure answer” or “I’m scared” is perfectly alright since it’s a bit step and being nervous about it is to be expected.
  • How well informed are you about the market in terms of inventory, pricing, marketing time, interest rates, etc.? It’s hard to get started on the process if you know nothing about it or the local market.

You can download some helpful forms and checklists about short sales and REOs on the home page of my website.

Visit my Savvy Buyers Page to download the “Buyer’s Lifestyle Questionnaireand  my What’s Important to You in Your Home Search Questionnaire.

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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”

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”

Are YOU Interested in Buying an REO?

I just wrote an article that may interest you IF you are interested in buying an REO…or perhaps have little choice because of price range.

There are some important questions that I like to ask, so these might be useful for you to consider so you can decide IF buying an REO is right for you.

If nothing else, it will help you be prepared for the issues you need to confront during the search.


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

Stumbling Blocks to Your Home Purchase

Posted in FAQs,General Information,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on December 21, 2009
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There are a number of hurdles you have to overcome as a first time buyer in order to get that new home. This is true of everyone, of course, but folks who are buying for the first time may not be aware of these stumbling blocks.

Model Homes at CopperWood and Rockledge in Carlsbad

And with the current market, especially in the lower price points in our area (under $400,000), there are other issues to be aware of.

A knowledgeable REALTOR can help you overcome many of these hurdles, but some things you simply need to do yourself.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Getting Pre-Approved for a Loan

2. Being emotionally ready to make a purchase and just making a decision

3. REOs = lots of competition and multiple offers, including cash buyers

4. Short Sales = LONG waiting time for short sale approval (4 – 6 months), perhaps never

5. Moving quickly enough on a great deal – keep in mind the competition, you may NOT have much time to “think about it”; a delay can cost you the home

6. The appraisal – many of them are coming in lower than agreed on prices due to the market and changes in the appraisal process

7. Getting a loan – banks are becoming more and more restrictive

8. The home inspection

9. Being realistic – about what you can afford, the trade-offs (wants vs. needs), etc.

10. Do I buy now or wait?

If you need help sorting through these issues or want more information on the matters you really need to think about, please let me know.


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If I can provide more information about Carlsbad real estate and surrounding areas, or the housing market in general, or otherwise assist you in your homes search, please contact me by phone or text at (760) 840-1360 or email me at

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” Carlsbad Homes and Real Estate Tidbits

New Construction Homes in Carlsbad

These may not fit many budgets, especially those of you who are buying your first homes.

Model Homes at Rockledge in La Costa Oaks Carlsbad

Model Homes at Rockledge in La Costa Oaks Carlsbad

There are several communities of new construction homes in Carlsbad that may be of interest. What I find particularly impressive is that these homes are going QUICKLY – quite a change from a year ago when homes were languishing on the market and new home building sorta stopped.

Now there are 5 new communities that are building with another (53 Melrose) just starting in South Carlsbad.

Read more about COPPERWOOD and ROCKLEDGE in the La Costa Oaks master planned community in Carlsbad.  If you want new construction for under $250/SF here is your chance – but it’s going fast.

Use Your Common Sense, and Others Too

I realized that I wrote this article some time ago that I didn’t share here.

I think it’s an important one.

Buyers, especially folks going at it for the first time, sometimes just don’t use their common sense. It’s easy to get swayed by a beautiful home, or turned off by an ugly one, without using your common sense about what really is important and what your ultimate goal is.

But in this market of short sales, REOs and sellers who just may not give a hoot about how their home looks, using ALL YOUR SENSES makes, well, sense (cents??).

Read on to learn more how and why YOU better come to your senses while house hunting.

First Time Buyers – What Are You Missing in Your Home Search?

Posted in Due Diligence,House Hunting,Short Sales,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on July 21, 2009
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Believe it or not you may be missing some things in your home search.

This is especially true if your interest, or budget, puts you in front of a lot of short sale and REO (foreclosure or bank-owned) homes.

And it may not be what you think.

Read more about buying a short sale or REO – What Am I Missing?

Important San Diego MLS Information for Buyers

Many buyers in our area are looking at short sales, pre-foreclosures, and REOs as part of their home search. And there is LOTS of competition, so it is not really a “buyer’s market” for these kinds of homes. You will almost always find multiple offers on these properties, sometimes the day the new home is listed or within a day or so.

SANDICOR, the MLS for San Diego, has implemented a new status called CONTINGENT, which means there are offers awaiting approval of the short sale, or which have been submitted to the REO lender for approval. They are still ACTIVE but now there are multiple bids.


My Buyer’s Short Sale Checklist

Posted in Short Sales,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on March 12, 2009
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Lots of buyers these days are considering short sales in their home search. And you should.

A short sale MAY not be the best deal for you, and they require a great deal of patience because of how long they can potentially take to close.

In some markets and budgets, you may not have a choice but to look at distress homes.

Here are some things you need to consider:

1.  Determine your patience level (know that getting a response on a short sale can take weeks or longer; how long are you willing or able to wait?)

2.  Hire a knowledgeable agent (always a smart idea but work with someone who has some experience with short sales – what they are, how they work, etc.)

3.  Get pre-approved (again, always a good idea, but know that some short sale listings will mandate you provide a pre-approval from a specific lender, namely the one who is the primary loan)

4.  Understand why you want to buy a short sale (sounds simple, but they are not necessarily great deals and there are many hurdles – are you truly serious about buying one?)

5.  Understand the basics of what a short sale is and how it works (there’s that requirement again to work with a knowledgeable agent who hopefully is not testing the short sale waters with YOU!)

6.  Understand what AS IS means and be prepared for it (short sales generally are sold AS IS, i.e., without any warranties or repairs)

7.  Plan to have a complete home inspection (you are foolhardy, in my opinion, if you are not VERY thorough in your due diligence; you can’t cry “I didn’t know” after the fact)

8.  Look at your budget carefully (do you have cash to take on repairs and other unexpected expenses, on top of the mortgage, interest, insurance, HOA fees, etc.?)

9.  Set expectations (but be realistic, and prepared. Some homes show well and others are, well, shocking)

10.  Be prepared for surprises and changes (real estate is fraught with surprises, and short sales are no exception)

11.  Don’t expect short sale transactions to act like other deals you may have been involved in – they have their own set of “rules”

12.  Be willing to move on (be prepared to make the decision to move after submitting a offer if you need to) or to at least continue looking at other homes


If I can provide more information about Carlsbad and surrounding areas, or the housing market in general, or otherwise assist you in your home search, please contact me by phone or text at (760) 840-1360 or email me at

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

All content copyright © 2009 Jeff Dowler

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