Mortgage Assistance
At last, their first
At last, their first

By Diane Wedner, Times Staff Writer TODAY'S roiling mortgage market and still-high prices have made buying an entry-level house in Southern California seem about as likely for struggling first-time buyers as owning a villa at Italy's Lake Como. At least, that's how Christopher and Hedy Maar saw it. Then lightning struck. The couple, who had been renting a North Hollywood house for five years, learned early this summer about state- and city-government programs for first-time buyers needing financial help purchasing a home. Shortly after attending 12 hours of home-buying classes -- the first rung of the assistance ladder -- they found the brick-trimmed Granada Hills house...