By Todd Shea
2023 President
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

We are all so blessed to live in California, especially here in the jewel that is Santa Barbara. Homeownership here and across California is a huge accomplishment and helps create security and creates generational wealth. As REALTORS®, we work diligently for our clients to accomplish this dream. I am even more proud of the many ways our REALTOR® community gives back. I wanted to promote this, bring awareness to a fantastic REALTOR®-funded grant, and remind all local REALTORS® to continue donating.

REALTORS® are passionate about home ownership and backed that passion by contributing, some for decades now, to HAF, Housing Affordability Fund. (Real Estate is full of acronyms!) The purpose is to help first-time homebuyers from members of underserved communities bridge the affordability gap by providing them with up to $10,000 in closing cost assistance. Developed by CAR, The California Association of REALTORS®, in 2002 and spearheaded by local Santa Barbara REALTOR®, Toby Bradley.

Toby became a realtor in 1979 and served as President of our local Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS® in 1992, and then went on to become the second female Treasurer for the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) in 2000 and 2001.  When she served as CAR President in 2003, her mission was to create cultural diversity and inclusivity within the organization. She passed away in November of 2020, leaving a legacy still helping California residents today.

Across California, housing costs have prevented many working families from achieving the dream of homeownership. The unaffordable housing market is a result of a long-term shortfall in the development of housing units in California. HAF raises and distributes funds in partnership with local associations and other groups to promote housing and homeownership. C.A.R.’s HAF program is their first-ever statewide Closing Cost Assistance Grant Program for underserved communities.

– Recipient must be a First-Time Homebuyer. “First-Time Homebuyer” means an individual (and all co-buyers on the property purchase contract, if any) who has had no ownership interest in any real property in any location during the last three (3) years.
– Recipient must be a member of an Underserved Community. “Underserved Community” includes:(*“Underserved Community” includes: (i) people of color; (ii) persons with disabilities (physical or mental), particularly persons living in housing with one or more qualities of an institutional setting, persons leaving institutions, or persons at-risk of institutionalization; and (iii) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons.)an gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons.)

These homeownership gaps aren’t new, and, for many groups, they’re getting wider. Experts suggest that lack of generational wealth is (can be) to blame, often leaving members of underserved communities with fewer funds to cover the closing costs and down payment for a home. This money from HAF is a grant and therefore does not have to be paid back.

Visit this link to learn more and apply.

If you are a REALTOR®, you can donate here and continue to carry on Toby’s legacy. If you have already donated, THANK YOU!

Todd Shea is the 2023 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR). He is a California licensed real estate agent with the Zia Group powered by eXp Realty here in Santa Barbara. He has served on and chaired several committees within the SBAOR and served on its board of directors. Todd can be reached at 805.453.7730 and or message and follow @toddshearealtor on Instagram. 


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