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[whitespace] Finding a Way Home

It's official. Silicon Valley's home prices are the highest in the nation. Last year the median sales price of a single-family home reached $316,250. No doubt, it's a lot of money. But rents are also escalating at an insane pace, and chances are, if you're renting a decent place in the valley, you might be throwing the equivalent of a mortage payment down the rat hole every month.

Take a Silicon Valley professional making about $75,000 and paying the average valley rent of $1,440 for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. The single biggest tax deduction for people in that income bracket is the mortgage interest deduction.

With money back from Uncle Sam, that $1,440 rent becomes a $1,900 mortgage payment.

Jerry Strangis, a real estate agent in Willow Glen for 20 years, says that as a general rule of thumb, a 10 percent down payment is "a pretty clean deal." But there are programs for 3 percent down as well. First-time homebuyers, Strangis says, "borrow from Mom and Dad, max credit cards, beg and steal" for the down payment. But once you've got the house, you start to make money again.

If you bought a $300,000 house two years ago, for example, you've already made $30,000 in equity. Real estate watchers foresee another double-digit increase in home values next year.

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From the March 5-11, 1998 issue of Metro.

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