First Time House Buyer

The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) offers deferred loans, homeownership grants, and mortgage credit certificates to help low- and moderate-income families buy their first homes.

The SDHC First-Time Homebuyer Program can be used to purchase a single family home, townhome or condominium in the City of San Diego. This program is funded primarily through federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HOME Investment Partnerships Program grants to the City of San Diego that are administered by SDHC, with additional funding from federal Community Development Block Grant funds, State CalHome Program funds, and City of San Diego Affordable Housing Funds. Since the program began on August 13, 1990, SDHC has helped more than 5,230 families and individuals buy their first homes.

In addition, SDHC administers the County of San Diego’s First-Time Homebuyer Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program. This County Department of Housing and Community Development Program serves the cities of Carlsbad, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach, Vista and unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

The City of San Diego and County of San Diego first-time homebuyer programs have different eligibility requirements and features.


First-Time Homebuyer Programs

City of San Diego

Who is Eligible? 

SDHC’s primary program is limited to those planning to buy a home within the City of San Diego in neighorhoods with postal ZIP codes that begin with 921. “First-time homebuyer” is defined as someone who has not owned a home for at least the past three years.  Each homebuyer program has limits on annual household income and the purchase price of a home.

Assistance offered under this program includes:

3% Interest, Deferred-Payment Loan 

Eligible buyers earning no more than 80 percent AMI, currently $64,800 a year for a family of four, may qualify for a deferred-payment, second trust deed loan of up to 17 percent of the purchase price, with the interest rate set at 3 percent. No payments are required for 30 years, unless the owner sells or no longer occupies the home as a primary residence, at which time the principal balance, including accrued interest, must be repaid. To qualify, the buyer must obtain a fixed-rate first trust deed loan; have adequate income, a good credit rating; and provide a minimum down payment of 3 percent.  Applicants also must attend a homebuyer education class.

 Homeownership Grant Program  

Buyers earning no more than 80 percent of AMI, currently $64,800 a year for a family of four, are eligible for down payment and closing cost assistance of up to 6 percent of the purchase price, not to exceed $20,000.

Homeownership Grant funds for down payment and closing cost assistance will be non-recoverable and forgiven at escrow closing.

Mortgage Credit Certificate 

Qualified homebuyers with income not exceeding 140 percent of AMI, currently $101,800 a year for a family of four, may claim a federal income tax credit. Buyers earning 80 percent of AMI, currently $64,800 a year for a family of four, or less, or buying in a specified neighborhood may claim a tax credit of 20 percent of the annual interest paid on their mortgage; all other buyers receive a tax credit of 15 percent. The reduced tax burden helps the buyer qualify for a mortgage because it boosts net earnings. Buyers may have to repay the tax if they sell the home within the first nine years.

County of San Diego

Eligible families with incomes at or below 80 percent of AMI, currently $64,800 a year for a family of four, may apply for a 3 percent interest, deferred-payment loan of 33 percent of the purchase price (up to $70,000) to purchase a single-family home, townhome or condominium in one of the County of San Diego program areas.

All buyers interested in applying for assistance under the County of San Diego program must apply through an SDHC-approved lender.


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