Middle-class residents excluded from Sonoma County housing market
Sheldon acknowledged that many individuals and families do not have the financial means to buy in this housing market.
He recommended adding a parent or grandparent to a mortgage as a co-signer. This can increase borrowing capacity or use a 401 (k) retirement account to pay off personal debt in order to qualify for the required mortgage or increase the down payment, which reduces the principal amount of a loan. immovable.
Meanwhile, “contrary to popular belief,” there are homes available for purchase in Sonoma County for $ 600,000 to $ 650,000, Sheldon said. “They are out there and they are achievable.”
But expect these houses to need the “right amount of cosmetic love” and to attract several very competitive offers, he said.
Coldwell Banker real estate agent Timothy Brown said it is essential for buyers to set their expectations based on the financial reality of the current market, focusing on what they can afford to buy a single-family or luxury home, condominium or manufactured home.
“It doesn’t matter what price point my customers are buying at,” Brown said. “They always see that next level and say … I wish I could get there.”
Rely on the family
Audra Meusx, 39, and her husband Trevor, 35, started saving 35% of what they earned in order to end up buying their own home, after moving with her parents to Cotati in December 2015.
In March 2018, they offered $ 578,000 – the absolute maximum they could afford – for a house because it was right across from her parents’ house. Their offer was rejected and the house sold for $ 589,000.
When the pandemic hit last spring, Meusx and her husband lost their jobs and were relying on unemployment benefits. She is a photographer and music lover who drove to San Francisco in the evening to film live performances in concert halls. Her husband had worked in maintenance for Cinema West Theaters, the regional movie theater chain based in Petaluma.
With the appeasement of the pandemic, they decided in February to try again to buy a house.
“We’ve saved $ 100,000 over the past five years, and we’ve felt really good about it,” she said.
From a career point of view, they have found solid foundations in recent months. She got her photography business off the ground, Shot Through the Heart Studio, named after the 1984 Bon Jovi hit. Trevor started his own DIY business, Local Hero and Sons. Together they are now making more money than they have ever made.
But local house prices have soared even higher since their earlier foray into home search. They soon learned that they did not have enough recent work income due to the pandemic time off to secure a mortgage. And they’ve saved too much money to qualify for great loan terms under first-time homebuyers.
Nonetheless, earlier this year they examined three homes listed between $ 499,000 and $ 599,000 and were humiliated. Each had what Meusx called “major problems with the bones of the houses”.
They decided to put their house-buying quest on hold again and accepted an offer from his brother Ralan Hill to rent his three-bedroom house in western Santa Rosa and moved on May 15 with their son from 5 year old Brixton and 18 month old son Cillian.
Meusx said her dream was for the local housing market to ‘collapse’ within a year, which would allow her and her husband to buy a house in Petaluma where Brixton will start kindergarten in the fall. . Or maybe they could buy a house in Cotati on the street where his parents have lived since buying the family home in 1980 for $ 82,500.
Respect the budget
Among other things, Klose fears that the scorching housing sector will reinforce to high school and college residents that homeownership is just a fantasy for them and that many will eventually leave the area.
“A lot of the young people we spoke to have resigned themselves to the fact that if I live in Sonoma County, I will never own a home,” Klose said.
Meanwhile, with many underweight residents with household-related expenses exceeding a third or more of their monthly income, she said they might not have enough money for food, health care, etc. child care, among other necessities.
“You’re going to have to make choices that don’t promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Klose, a lawyer and former school administrator for the city of Santa Rosa.
That’s not what Joy Wilson, 29, who works in quality assurance for Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, and her boyfriend, Luke, also 29, a software developer, intend to do. They want to buy a home along the Highway 101 corridor, preferably near the SMART commuter train line, between Petaluma and Santa Rosa, but they won’t give up on their financial game plan.
They are getting ready to put down $ 150,000, take out a 15-year mortgage, and want to keep the monthly payment around the $ 3,000 they are paying in rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Santa Rosa.
“If the math doesn’t work, we’re not going to,” the 2013 Sonoma State University graduate said of a home purchase.
Wilson estimates that she has visited over 50 open houses, visiting homes listed in the $ 500,000 range that typically sell quickly for at least $ 600,000.
“We will continue to bang our heads against this wall that is the Sonoma County real estate market,” she said, noting that she and Luke may be considering moving overseas to the Netherlands. or somewhere in UK.
Trying to take root
Ariel Beauhaire, 33, and her husband, David, 32, are also recent college graduates trying to buy their first home.
Since January, they have made offers on four homes listed between $ 700,000 and $ 800,000, two in Penngrove and two in the western region of Petaluma where they are renting a single family home with their son who turns 2 in August.
“We seem to be outbid with cash offers of at least $ 100,000 above the asking price,” said Beauhaire, a part-time speech-language pathologist who works at Novato and grew up in San Rafael.
“All we want is to buy our first house and move here. “
‘It is the house’
Although Scott Emerick said it was “depressing” to search for a home, the San Anselmo native said his family would not be leaving the area.
“This is our home,” he said of Sonoma County, where he and his wife, 39, built their careers in law, getting involved in the community and forming friendships.
“We are not ready to move away from it to live elsewhere. “