Getting a mortgage is more difficult but not impossible |

Getting a mortgage is more difficult but not impossible

Sara Thompson

Published Caption: Dan Thrift / Tribune file photo

With South Shore housing prices dipping, people looking to take advantage of the greater affordability should be happy to hear it’s still possible to get mortgages.

But Ron Yokotake, owner of Associated Mortgage Center, said not as many options exist as before.

“A majority of the menu choices are gone,” Yokotake said. “We don’t have the volume of loan programs.”

Even though the number of loan programs have decreased, Yokotake said loans still are available if people can prove what they make, have a good credit score and show their liquid assets.

From that information, mortgage brokers can figure out what someone can afford, and if they can qualify for a loan or not.

Not just anyone can get a loan anymore. People can’t get loans without documentation of their income, or with no credit history like they used to two years ago, Yokotake said.

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Debra Howard, owner of Deb Howard & Co., said people who could afford a home previously are cautiously entering the marketplace, as are investors.

After the six years of increasing prices, the decreasing prices over the past two years mean middle-class people can start stepping back into the real-estate market, Howard said.

According to the South Tahoe Association of Realtors, the median price for a home at the South Shore was $189,000 in 2000. The median price in September was $415,000.

Overall, the South Shore has weathered the market storm better than other areas, which Howard attributed to multiple factors.

The area is one of the top resort destinations and has a limited-growth policy. Since people can’t overbuild, like what occurred in other areas, the supply is limited so the demand will be there, Howard said. Also, the baby boom generation has looked to diversify their investment portfolios, and Lake Tahoe is a good area to do that.

Buyers also are motivated by their perception of when is a good time to buy. Some people think now is the time, and others are waiting longer until they plan to purchase a home, Yokotake said.

Yokotake said the market is erratic.

“You can’t rely on trends. There is no trend right now,” Yokotake said.

The number of people seeking to purchase their primary home has increased compared to the past three years, but they are still the minority compared with second-home buyers.

“It’s not even 50-50,” Yokotake said. “It’s still a second-home market.”

Listed by neighborhood for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2008, as compared with the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2007:

Al Tahoe

— 2008: $424,900

— 2007: $430,000

Pioneer Trail

— 2008: $485,000

— 2007: $489,000

Sierra Tract

— 2008: $294,500

— 2007: $335,000


— 2008: $393,000

— 2007: $383,000

“Y” Area

— 2008: $313,500

— 2007: $375,000


— 2008: $395,000

— 2007: $424,000

– Source: South Tahoe Association of Realtors