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Whether you are house shopping in NELA (Northeast Los Angeles) or elsewhere in Southern California, there may be a program to take a bite out of your costs.

First-time homebuyers in any market face a daunting list of concerns: where to buy, what to buy and how to pay for it being their top questions. But in Southern California as well the rest of the country home ownership is encouraged – the tax laws support the homeowner – and there are many resources available in particular for first-time buyers.

NELA (Northeast Los Angeles) is popular with buyers new to the area or for first-time Angelino buyers because it offers several advantages. First, the pricing is advantageous over other parts of LA – don't be scared off by $1 million-plus homes in Mt. Washington, Eagle Rock and Highland Park when affordable condos and fixer-upper starter homes are available there as well. Homes for sale in Glassell Park, as well as homes in lesser-known neighborhoods such as Garvanza and Herman, can still yield some gems at a good price.

Second, transportation to other parts of the city and region is excellent, owing in part to how it was settled even before the West Coast car culture took over: major highways include the Arroyo Seco Parkway (CA SR-110), Interstate 5 and the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10), as well as the Metro Gold Line, the light rail with stops in Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Montecito Heights, and Cypress Park/Lincoln Heights that connect those NELA towns with downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. 

Just as important, there are several resources that first-time buyers in this region can tap into to ease the process:

Southern California Home Financing Authority First Home Mortgage Program (SCHFA) – Qualifying buyers can get a competitive 30-year fixed rate loan plus grant for down payment and closing costs. The program is administered by the LA County Community Development Commission (CDC) and the Public Finance Division of the County of Orange. 

The Los Angeles LIPA first-time homebuyer program – Offering up to $60,000 toward down payment and closing cost expenses, eligibility ranges according to household size relative to combined income. For example, a one-person household with a total income of $48,650 (in 2016) would be eligible, as would an eight-person household with combined income of $91,700. Applicants are given a mandatory homebuyer education class and must contribute a minimum of 1% of the home price to the down payment.

Home Ownership Program (HOP) – Sponsored by the Los Angeles Community Development Commission (funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD), it also provides up to $60,000 for first-time buyers for down payments and closing costs.

Mortgage Credit Certificate Program (MCC) – Qualified first-time home buyers can convert a portion of their annual home loan interest into a direct dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to 20% of the annual loan interest (the remaining 80% of the interest is an itemized federal tax deduction).

There are many qualifiers to these programs, and participation in one may disqualify a buyer from tapping into a second or third program. The important step is to talk to a Realtor: Tracy King is NELA based with more than 25 years experience in this area. She can guide you in your research and ultimately find the home that meets your needs and qualifications.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or