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Scammers take advantage of Natural Disasters

Watch out for Disaster Fraud

From the California Association of Realtors:

Tip of the Week: Justice Dept. raises awareness of disaster fraud hotline
The Dept. of Justice, the FBI, and the National Center for Disaster Fraud remind the public there is a potential for disaster fraud in the aftermath of a natural disaster.  Suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with natural disasters should be reported to the toll-free NCDF hotline at (866) 720-5721.  The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of disasters.

In the wake of natural disasters, many individuals feel moved to contribute to victim assistance programs and organizations across the country.  The Dept. of Justice and the FBI remind the public to apply a critical eye and to conduct due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of victims.

Special loan programs for buyers in San Francisco

“MCC” – San Francisco Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

Essentially is a tax credit on your mortgage payment.

Program Limits:

  • First-time homebuyer (cannot have owned for past 3 years)
  • Purchase price limits
  • Income limits-this changes year to year because it is based on median income

For more information:

MCC Program Highlights


Down payment Assistance Program (DALP)

This program is very cool.  It is for low to moderate income buyers.  The city makes a second on any property in San Francisco that is silent, meaning that there are no payments made on the loan by the borrower for 40 years.  The loan must be paid off in 40 years along with 20 percent of the appreciation.

  • Income limits
  • Purchase price limit
  • Loan amount limit
  • First time buyer
  • Must be owner occupied-unless approved by Mayor’s Office of Housing (may allow temporary rental)

DALP Program


“BMR”  – San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Below Market Rate

This program is for specific properties in the program.  The units are intended to always remain in the program, so you wouldn’t get the benefit of appreciation as you would in market rate housing.

Program Limits:

  • First-time homebuyer
  • Income limits
  • Limited equity program: You cannot resell at market price, essentially cannot sell for a profit or build equity except for mortgage pay downs
  • Must enter a lottery for chance to submit an application

For More Information:

Below Market Purchase Program

FHA Financing

A federally backed loan program that allows buyers to make smaller down payments. Pre-approved lenders have this program available.  You do not have to be a first-time buyer, but you do need to be an owner occupant.

  • Allows 3.5% down payment
  • Allows lower credit scores
  • Loan limits
  • Requires upfront mortgage insurance premium (which can be financed) plus monthly mortgage insurance premium (adds about .5% to the interest rate)

Many mortgage brokers can help you with this financing.  If you need a referral, please let me know.


West Portal Fire Stirs memories

 The fire at 1 West Portal a few weeks ago stirred some strong memories for me.  My very first ‘grown up apartment’ was at 330 West Portal back in 1987. My landlady was Demitra (Demi) Georgas, who also owned 1 West Portal-which has remained in her family.

The Avenue was totally new to me even though I had already lived in the city for two years.  It was much different back then; there was no Starbucks, Café for all Seasons was the hot ticket and Sylvanus Upholstery was at 199 WP.  A friend went with me to look at the apartment and although Demi’s property manager showed me the property, Demi dropped in to check me out-we hit it off immediately.

I loved my first apartment.  Built in the 1920’s, the Spanish Mediterranean flavor had me hooked.  Although it was a studio, I had my own fireplace, a balcony, a vintage purple tile bathroom and hardwood floors- all for $500 a month.  I was working in an architectural firm at the time and she had a soft spot for architects, because one of her nephews was studying architecture.  Instead of raising my rent, she asked me to change the burned out light bulbs in the hall ways; when my car got broken into on 14th Ave., she rented me a parking place in the building for $25 a month and when I was ready to buy my first place, she offered to help me out.

Demi and I stayed in touch over the years and occasionally ran into each other on the Avenue.  When I found out that she had passed away some years ago, I went to her funeral. This phenomenal woman made a huge impact on my life.  To a large extent, she introduced me to West Portal and I’ve considered it my neighborhood ever since.

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