Anthony Cerrato lives in a three-bedroom, two-bedroom home in the San Fernando Valley, an urbanized valley in Los Angeles County, California, with his fiancée Maggie Arce, his father, and a family friend. bathroom in the residence. It was his father’s house, and he was in his twenties, and public life wasn’t always ideal.

Serrato’s mother died two years ago, and even before that, his family was struggling to afford a mortgage. “Owning this house and buying and living here is like their dream … but it’s been a struggle,” he told wealth. Serrato has been helping his dad out, making monthly payments on his mortgage and making sure the fridge is stocked with food — and, he’s saving money while doing so. After his mother died, Serato and his partner rented a studio in Canoga Park for $1,400 a month. But since moving back home, he typically gives his father about $700 to $1,000 a month just for the mortgage.

In March, the California Housing Finance Agency introduce The “Everyone’s Dream” program is included in the state’s annual budget. Later that month, a down-payment assistance scheme for first-time homebuyers will launch, allowing those who qualify to receive a loan of up to 20% of the purchase price of the home; (the homeowner will then repay the loan amount plus a percentage of the increase in the value of the home). For Serrato and his partner, it prompted them to seriously consider buying their own home.But in less than two weeks, the “National Dream Sharing Appreciation Loan” was approved pausetoo many applications, the $500 million in funding was cut to $300 million.

“It only lasted two weeks and actually when we were showing at our home our real estate agent was like, we just got an email that all funds are fully locked up and there’s no more, said Serrato. “It’s definitely taken a toll on our overall mentality.”

“Everyone Dreams” Project later resurrected, with $200 million left in funding, though it’s unclear when they’ll start accepting applications or how long this time around. Even so, Serato’s fiancée recently lost her job. Before that, their combined pre-tax income was about $130,000 a year, he said. They’re still looking for homes in Bakersfield, Calif., where the average home price is $340,427, and in San Fernando, where it’s $340,427. average price is $685,439, or Los Angeles, where average price That’s $906,524. Their price range is around $200,000 to $250,000.

On social media, Serato shared a video A three-bedroom, one-bath house, apparently in dilapidation, was listed on Zillow for nearly $220,000. Serrato explained that the video was mostly a joke, and that what he called “almost a trap house” and “totally shabby stuff” cost over $200,000 is ridiculous. Seeing this, though, the bottom line of the market appears to be being pushed higher, in his view.

“It’s kind of like, wow, are we going to be moving out anytime soon because the price of a house in Bakersfield goes up?” Serrato said, adding later, “I don’t want to buy a $350,000 (or) $400,000 house and then be poor — I refuse to be poor, I’ve lived like that my whole life.”

The market’s bottom line has improved. At the time of the pandemic in March 2020, the typical home value in Bakersfield was $238,449, according to Zillow. More than three years later, as of August 2023, the city’s average home price is $340,427. An almost 42.8% increase in such a short period of time Mortgage rates have more than doubled since their pandemic lows circling More than 7%.

Things began to change when Serato started making money after graduating from UCLA and starting a career in marketing. He is no longer poor, Serrato said, and they can all live comfortably and pay their bills. “Before, it was all about the mortgage and you had to figure out what you were going to eat,” he said. That’s why even if he got a $400,000 mortgage, he wouldn’t consider buying a house that’s worth that much.

Serato didn’t grow up in the house he lives in now. He grew up in a one-bedroom apartment, living with his mother, father and brother. “I’m used to sharing,” he said. “My brother and I slept in the living room.” Still, Serato explained, they didn’t come from poor backgrounds. They still have Xboxes, PlayStations, computers, cars, but “we don’t have a house,” he said. As he and his fiancée continued to search for homes in and around Bakersfield, he knew there were some reasonably priced homes that weren’t completely run down, unlike the listings he’d shared online.

“I just hate to see the bottom line of the market start to increase,” Serrato said. “I’m just hoping that over the next few months, when I’m house hunting, the houses stay the way they are and hopefully they stay within my affordability.”

Before the program was suspended, Serrato said, he and his partners were in savings mode, where they considered liquefying any assets they owned. Even after the program stopped, they still felt like owning a home was within reach, though it did make things more difficult when his fiancée lost her job. “I’m willing to buy at a lower price … so I can avoid grief, which is why I’m willing to move to Bakersfield away from my family,” Serrato said.

He briefly considered Palmdale, Calif., which is closer to home with an average home price of $480,649, but he was ruled out of that market because prices have risen 31 percent in more than three years outside.

“I used to think Palmdale was a place where I could afford a house, but now when I see, at my age, when I can finally afford a house, I realize I’ve been priced out too. there,” he said. “Now I have to go farther, so the next best stop is Bakersfield.”

Still, Serrato and his fiancée are in a somewhat unique situation in that he feels their earning potential could be higher as she struggles to get a bachelor’s degree after losing her job.

“It feels like if we wait another two years then we’re definitely going to be priced out, it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth waiting any longer,” he said, adding that once they own their home, they’ll be on the fence if their situation happens change, they can eventually sell and buy another, so their money goes to an asset that is likely to appreciate in value. But he had something on his mind when he considered buying a home outside his hometown because it was something he and his partner could afford.

“I’m afraid the worst part is … people from (other markets) are obviously starting to price people out of their cities (those who call Bakersfield home), so I really sympathize with that because it’s It happened in my hometown,” Serrato said.


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