How to Buy a Condo in San Diego

Three Methods:Financing a Condo in San DiegoSearching for a Condo in San DiegoClosing the Deal on a Condo in San Diego

The median price for a condo in San Diego in early 2012 hovered around $223,000. Condominiums in this southern California city have remained far more affordable than single family homes, making them an attractive option for people who want to take advantage of low mortgage rates and home prices. With sunshine and warm temperatures year round, miles of sandy beaches, a diverse population and a rebounding economy, San Diego is a great place to live. Buy a condo in San Diego by working with a local real estate agent, getting the necessary mortgage and insurance and selecting the place that is a good fit for your budget and your lifestyle.

Method 1
Financing a Condo in San Diego

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    Check your credit and review your financial status.
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    Determine how much you can afford to spend on a condo in San Diego. Prices in 2012 range from $65,000 to $400,000.
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    Get approved for a mortgage.
    • Talk to lenders in San Diego about what kind of mortgage you will qualify for. A conventional mortgage might be best for a condo purchase.
    • Discuss whether a government-backed loan such as a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veteran's Administration (VA) loan will work. Both agencies FHA have implemented strict guidelines that make it more difficult for borrowers to qualify for these loans when they are buying a condo.
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    Take advantage of the Down Payment and Closing Cost Program offered by San Diego County, if you qualify. This program includes condo purchases.
    • Borrow up to $35,000 or 33 percent of the condos purchase price (whichever is less) if you are a low-income first time homebuyer. The County of San Diego offers these low interest loans to help with your down payment or closing costs.

Method 2
Searching for a Condo in San Diego

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    Get a real estate agent.
    • Work with an agent who is local to San Diego and understands the market and the condominium inventory.
    • Get referrals from friends and family members, especially if they have recently bought a condo.
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    Talk to your agent about what you want and need.
    • Discuss your budget, the size and location of the condo you are looking for, and what you can and cannot live without. For example, if you must have a garage but you are flexible on the number of bedrooms, let your agent know that.
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    View available condos with your agent. Take a tour of the properties and compare each condo to the others that you see.
    • Look for condos in downtown San Diego if you like walking to restaurants and shops and you want to be close to recreation and attractions. Downtown neighborhoods include Gaslamp Quarter, the Embarcadero area and Seaport Village.
    • Search for condos in the Hillcrest neighborhood if you appreciate being involved in a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. La Jolla and Mission Bay are neighborhoods that will give you easy access to the beach and water.
    • Take a look at the amenities as well as the condo unit. In San Diego, many condos come with a pool, fitness center and other perks.
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    Ask about the condominium association. Most condo associations in San Diego are professionally managed.
    • Find out what kind of condo association fees you will need to pay in addition to your mortgage, and whether they go up often.
    • Investigate the financial health of the condo association. In San Diego, you have the right as a prospective buyer to review financial statements and minutes from recent board of directors meetings.
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    Make an offer on the condo you decide to buy. Your agent will give you a contract to sign that states your desire to buy the condo, and how much you are willing to pay for it.
    • Negotiate the price. The condo seller will either accept your offer or counter with a price more favorable to what he or she was asking. Let your agent handle the back and forth until you settle on a price.

Method 3
Closing the Deal on a Condo in San Diego

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    Set a closing date. This will typically be between 30 and 45 days from when the offer is accepted.
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    Open escrow during the contingency period. According to California real estate law, you must place a deposit (usually around $2,000) into escrow and will have 17 days to schedule a property inspection, title search and secure financing.
    • After the 17 days, you will need to remove the contingency. You can only get your deposit back and cancel the contract during the contingency period.
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    Obtain the necessary homeowners insurance. Condo owners in San Diego require a HO-6 policy. Most lenders call this a "wall policy" and require it to cover at least 20 percent of the condo's appraised value.
    • Make sure this policy covers anything that the San Diego condo master policy does not.
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    Close the deal. Once the lender deposits the amount of the purchase price into escrow, the sellers will receive their money and you will receive the keys to your condo.


  • Consider resale value when shopping for a condo in San Diego. Experts expect the real estate market to rebound eventually, and the condo you buy for $200,000 in 2012 will likely be worth a lot more if you are willing to stay in it and keep it maintained for several years.

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Categories: Buying Property