City, Developer Help First-Time House Buyers

From the Associated Press

The city of Escondido is joining with a developer to create a $550,000-program to provide down payments for first-time, middle-income home buyers thwarted by the high-priced housing market.

The northern San Diego County city will join two other California cities, Ventura and San Francisco, in offering such a program, Escondido officials said.

"This is not low-income housing assistance," City Councilwoman Carla DeDominicis said. "It is the first time in the county that a city has come to the aid of hard-working, middle-class people."

Money for the down payments, which could be up to $12,500 per buyer, will come from the builder, Foote Development Co. of San Diego. Foote agreed to underwrite the program in exchange for receiving Escondido's approval to build 222 condominium units on the city's north side.

Fifty-five of those units will be reserved for the first-time buyer program. Priority for the down payment assistance plan will be given to Escondido residents, but anyone will be able to apply for the program, city officials said.

Condos in the project will range in price from $95,000 to $125,000, with at least 25% of the new condos to be part of the buyer-assistance program, said Dennis Meeham, Foote's vice president.

Meeham said his company hopes to put the first condo units on the market in late winter or early spring of next year.

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