Can I Afford to Buy a Home in San Diego?

San Diego is considered to be one of the most desirable places to live in America. With its sunny climate and oceanfront location, it draws newcomers from various regions of the country. However, San Diego is also one of the most expensive places to live in the country, and housing prices are a major reason for the high expense. Without high paid employment, buying a home can be financially out of reach. However, there are funds available to help potential homeowners to be able to afford to purchase their own homes.

Cost of Living in San Diego

The 2008 Cost of Living Index in San Diego was 143.8, which is considered very high in comparison to the U.S. average of 100. This means that the average cost of purchasing goods and services is higher than in many other areas of the country. Like most of the country, San Diego has been gripped by the ongoing financial crisis, which has necessitated a decrease in the level of social services offered and proposed cuts in public transit. This means that in addition to housing costs, would-be homeowners should also consider additional demands to their budgets, such as automobile costs, that would reduce their ability to afford a home.

Average Income in San Diego

In 2006, Money Magazine named San Diego as the fifth best large city to live in America. This was despite the fact that the average household income of just under $60,000 was well below the average figure of just over $76,000 for all the cities on its list. Three-quarters of all workers in the San Diego area are employed by private companies, many of which have been hard hit by the economic downturn. Sixteen percent of the workforce is employed by the government and nine percent are self employed. Unemployment for the San Diego area was 7.4 percent in December 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was half a percentage point higher than the figure reported for November 2008.

Average Home Purchase Price in San Diego

Home ownership rates in the San Diego area have been affected by the high cost of living and relatively low income levels. In 2007, forty-five percent of residents in the San Diego area rented their homes, in comparison to forty-three percent statewide. The housing crisis has affected San Diego much as it has for the rest of the country. One result is that home prices fell dramatically in 2008. The average home price in San Diego County fell to 530,735 dollars in 2008 from 712,292 dollars in 2007 and 709,731 dollars in 2006.

Foreclosures in San Diego

Foreclosures hit an all time high in San Diego county in 2007, according to DataQuick, which began keeping track of county foreclosures in 1988 and defaults in 1992. The county's notices of default, which mark the first step of the foreclosure processed, increased 128 percent to 20,138 in 2007. Actual foreclosures rose 353 percent to 7,349 during 2007. Both figures were county records. In September 2008, San Diego received $9.4 million in federal funding to help the city purchase foreclosed homes. The funds were designed to prevent blight which frequently results when large areas are abandoned by residents and by commercial tenants.

Financial Assistance for Potential Homebuyers in San Diego

Potential first-time home buyers in the San Diego area have access to a number of assistance programs. These programs are based on the income of the potential home buyer and offer aid in the form of grants, tax credits and mortgage assistance. Some aid programs are targeted toward the purchase of homes in certain designated areas of the city. The programs are administered by the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, Centre City Development Corporation, San Diego Housing Commission and the Redevelopment Division.

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