Hopeful homeowners intrigued by Santa Clara Co. plan to help middle-income, 1st time buyers

On Wednesday night, hundreds of people packed a town hall meeting in San Jose, hoping to one day own a home in the Bay Area. Santa Clara County is introducing a new county program that could help middle-income, first-time homebuyers raise the cash for a down payment.

The cost of a down payment is daunting. Lupe Quijado and Yolando Santos are county workers who both have two jobs and rent homes with their grown children.

“It’s too expensive to live here,” said Quiado. “I’ve been looking for house for year already. I don't want to leave but if I have to I will but not looking into that at all.”

“I look on Zillow all the time,” said Santos. “I’m always like what if I had money for this, deposit for that, what I would want, what I would sacrifice.”

The new down payment program for first time home buyers is funded by Measure A, which was passed in 2016. $25 million is available now.

“This could be for two people who work at Safeway,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “This is really designed for families who make between $80,000 and 150,000 of area median income.”

The program offers up to 17 percent down payment with the buyer contributing at least three percent. It’s a 30-year shared equity loan. The maximum price for the home is $800,000.

According to the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, the median price for a single family home in the county is $1.2 million and a condo and townhome is $925,000.

“It’s going to be a challenge, a little bit of a challenge but I think the market is softening a little bit,” said Hilda Ramirez of Keller Williams Silicon City Real Estate.

Ramirez manages a real estate firm in San Jose and said, as interest rates rise, there are homes in Morgan Hill, Gilroy and pockets of Santa Clara County that are priced at $800,000.

“You may have to compromise on size, or perhaps school districts,” said Ramirez. “Everyone sets their sights really high especially when it comes to housing and starting a family. There are homes out there you just got to do some searching and have some hope.”