Southern California is an absolutely beautiful place to call home. It’s an exciting place to live near the beach, amazing shopping, and great restaurants - and all of that drives up the price of local real estate. For example, the current average sold price in Orange County is $814,000 according to Trendgraphix, February 2017 data.
To help you find a place to fit your budget, we suggest taking a look at the top 10 Most Affordable Cities in Orange County, and taking the following advice. Once you have a buying strategy, you'd be surprised what you can afford in sunny SoCal.
Condos are a first-time buyer’s best friend
If this is your first time buying or a home, or just your first time buying in Southern California, the best way to break into the real estate market is with a condo or townhome. You can find condos in the $300,000s if you’re diligent and stay on top of the current inventory.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with starting small. Once you have a place, you can gain equity and save up for an even better home, or an even better location. Condos are the official starter homes of SoCal, so that's where you need to start looking.
Work your way to the coast
The more inland you look, the more affordable the homes will be in Southern California. A good place to start is Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Also known as the Inland Empire, these cities offer much more affordable choices, still within close proximity to Orange and Los Angeles Counties.
If the Inland Empire is too far, check out inland cities within Orange County like Rancho Santa Margarita, Lake Forest and Aliso Viejo. These inland communities offer a variety of condos and affordable homes in family friendly areas.
You can check the average home sold price of homes in every city for yourself with our monthly market updates. Covering Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire (and updated every month!), the market reports will help you familiarize yourself with the cities that offer comparatively affordable homes in SoCal.
Focus on improving your credit – and saving
The better your credit score, the better your mortgage interest rate will be. That’s why it’s so beneficial to focus on improving your credit score if you want to afford a home in your dream local. With a credit score of about 750 and above, you will be able to qualify the best rate on the market, and save yourself thousands over the term of your loan.
Saving money isn’t easy, but it’s necessary to give yourself the boost you need to break into the Southern California real estate market. Skip your morning Starbucks, start cooking at home, cancel your cable, and do whatever you can to get your monthly bills down. When you close pay attention to where all of your pennies are going, it’s much easier to pinpoint where you can afford to cut back.
Research your financing options
Did you know that an FHA loan will allow you to purchase a home with a downpayment as low as 3.5% down? Learn more about FHA loans and how they differ from conventional loans; it could be a good alternative based on your financial situation. You can also find other assistance programs like first-time homebuyer programs from the state, California Association of REALTORS® program to pay first-time homebuyers HOA dues, and more.
Team up with an agent and a financial professional, and start reviewing what you qualify for in order to get a better grasp on what is possible. When you have the support and service you need, it's easy to make your Southern California real estate dreams, a reality.