Affordable SF Home Ownership Success Story: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way Part 2

September 30, 2016

Meanwhile, back in the Inner Sunset, Bridget asked me to meet with her in late May. She asked if her friend Harini could join us. Bridget had learned that the Mayor’s Office of Housing (“MOH”) was expanding the Down Payment Assistance Program (“DALP”) both in terms of the income limit and the amount of money available to a borrower. In addition, the Teacher Next Door (“TND”) program was clarified to include more kinds of educators – charter schools, non-classroom teachers, school social workers, (Bridget, Meghan and Harini are all school social workers and Josh works for a SFUSD Charter School), etc., which was going to make it easier to use those funds as well. She asked if her friend Harini could come along to them meeting. The changed program was going to be available in early July, and Bridget and Harini wanted to be ready to spend their summer getting their families homes and moving in.

After several weeks of looking and a couple of offers, each couple was able to get into contract to buy a home in the Sunset District. In each case there was competition, but also, in each case, the sellers were happy to see SFUSD teachers buy a home. And It’s not true you have to have all cash and waive all contingencies: both couples were able to do inspections and negotiate small credits subsequent to their offers being accepted.

With the usual work out of the way, now came the fun part – getting the Mayor’s Office of Housing loans closed.


Wth the program revisions effective early July, we though we were in good shape to close both deals by about August 15. We wanted to be first in line in case the program was flooded with requests and based on my past experience with MOH, this would take 15-25 days longer than a normal transaction – about 45-55 days. Unfortunately, we were naively unaware of some of the details of the program launch. The lender we were working with, Laura Levine, had a long track record of doing employer and municipal 2nd mortgages similar to the DALP. Unfortunately, her new company, All California Mortgage, did not have a current relationship with the SF MOH, and they were required to take training not offered until August before any file could be officially accepted. So, even though the packages were complete and submitted to the MOH in July, the MOH did not consider them submitted until after the training in August.

Then there was the fact that we did manage to be first. The early bird doesn’t always just get the worm. The early bird can tend to be the one to help work out kinks in the process. Bridget & Kai were literally first in line for the expanded program and Harini & Josh were 2nd. There were kinks. Documents were submitted and rejected due to format, documents were submitted but never received, or were in any case requested again (and sometimes again). The RockStar loan processors at All California Mortgage patiently responded to all of the MOH requests and the diligent and lovely people at the MOH worked assiduously to complete and perfect the files – but all of this took a lot of time and elapsed days. Then, in late August, Josh’s TND loan was denied because he works for a SFUSD charter school (we thought that was fixed?). By early September the Sellers were losing patience on both deals. The biggest problem wasn’t that they wouldn’t wait, but that we couldn’t even tell them exactly how much longer it would be. They were worried it would be 2017! One of the sellers even started making plans to move back into the home.

At this point, the buyers sought the intervention of their representatives Katy Tang and Scott Wiener, whose staff helped to get clarity on closing timing. There were some sleepless nights for the buyers, but with the assurance of the closing timing, the agents were able to keep the sellers committed. Harini’s eloquence was also able to get the MOH to take another look at Josh’s TND and get it reinstated.

It is not well known or understood that the lenders who work on these deals are compensated in no way for the difficult processing of the MOH loans. In fact they have to pay the city an annual fee for the pleasure of working for free. You could say, well, they get paid for processing the 1st mortgage and the MOH loans enable the 1st mortgages. I still say, hat’s off to them!! This is truly community service because these loans are a vast amount of work. On Josh and Harini’s deal, for example, there were three MOH loans in addition to the 1st mortgage (two TND and a DALP). All of them have some separate paperwork and issues that have to be calculated into the mix.

It is a testament to the interpersonal and professional skill of everyone involved, hope, patience and community that these deals closed. Bridget and Kai closed on their house on 9/8 after 74 days in escrow. Harini and Josh closed 9/23 after 77 days in escrow.

I, and I know my clients, are so thankful for the dedication of every person who touched this deal. To the listing agents, Michael Lewin and Luda Duwe, for having faith in our team and not giving up, to the lending team at All California Mortgage (Kim, Marc, Laura!!!!) for all of their pro-bono hours, to the great employees of the Mayor’s Office of Housing (RUTH!!, Jeanne!! Sonia!! and Maria!!), to the elected officials and legislators who created these programs in the first place, and to our great escrow officers who had to do the closing statements so many times (Terry Pizzo at First American West Portal and the entire team at Chicago Title on Junipero Serra), I am deeply appreciative.

If you want to know more about the Mayor’s Office of Housing and their programs, click here. And, yes, I’m willing to take this on for you and yours should you want to pursue homeownership in San Francisco. It’s hard in every price range, but it can be done and it changes the lives of the new homeowners permanently for the better every time it happens.

– Jennifer