First Time Home Buyer's Guide to Santa Ana

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 21 May 2014 11:47

Living in Santa Ana

Santa Ana is a very diverse and exciting place to live in Orange County. It is the second largest metropolitan area in the county and a hub for city and county administrative buildings. There are several different communities within the city so there’s truly something for everyone.

The major areas include downtown where you can find the Artist’s Village and emerging urban playground, Midtown which is home to the Discovery Science Center, Bowers Museum and MainPlace Mall, and the south end bordering on Costa Mesa which makes up the South Coast Metro area.

Nicole Doughty, First Team real estate agent and expert on Santa Ana says one of the greatest assets of living in the city is the incredible freeway access.  Santa Ana is centrally located in Orange County and easily accessible from the 5, 55, 22 and 91 freeways.

Nicole says, “I have a home buyer who was living in Valencia and commuting to Downtown Disney. She will now be able to get on the 5 freeway and be in Anaheim in 10 minutes! She’s going to love it.” The city is also a popular spot for commuters to San Diego or Los Angeles because it’s close to the train station.

Santa Ana homes for sale are great for first-time home buyers because it is the second most affordable city in Orange County. Currently the average listing price for homes is $449,000 and the average sold price is $365,000.

Buyers can also rest easy because there are no Mello-Roos unlike most of South County, homeowners associations are voluntary and there are no other special taxes for residents.

Washington Square and Park Santiago are both great neighborhoods for first time home buyers in Santa Ana. Nichole says she and her husband first lived in Washington Square and then made the transition to West Floral Park. Home prices in these neighborhoods start in the $300,000’s.

Is it safe?

Many home buyers are skeptical of Santa Ana but every neighborhood and area is different. According to there are 4.01 crimes per 1,000 residents which is lower than the State average of 4.23.

Each neighborhood brings with it its own atmosphere and community feel. For example, Floral Park has Next door neighborhood which is an Intranet for residents to talk and stay connected. You can do everything from alert your neighbors about a suspicious biker to get a referral for the fence company for your front yard. It keeps people connected and makes them feel safe.

If you’re interested in Santa Ana real estate then the most important thing is to find a neighborhood where you feel safe. When you’re searching for homes ask about neighborhood watches, associations and community events to decide if the area is right for you. Nichole suggests calling the local Santa Ana police department if you’re interested in learning more.


What about the school districts?

Santa Ana is served by the Santa Ana Unified School District. Santa Ana public school ratings vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood. According to the top public schools in the area are:

It is also very common for residents to send their children to catholic schools in the area of which there are several including Saint Joseph, Saint Barbara and Holy Family next door in the city of Orange. Santa Ana is also home to two very prestigious high schools Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) and Mater Dei.

OCSA is a charter school located in downtown Santa Ana which caters to students who excel in the performing, visual, literary and culinary arts. Their academic and arts programs have both been recognized by the US News as “Best High School” programs.

Mater Dei High School is just 10 minutes outside of downtown and is the premier school in the area. Mater Dei has some of the best sports teams in the state, most notable its football team, and reputable AP classes and honors programs. In the last decade, Mater Dei's Varsity sports teams have brought home 28 CIF, 7 state and 2 national championships.

The New and Improved Downtown Santa Ana

Downtown Santa Ana is emerging as a thriving urban scene that is growing and expanding constantly. No matter where you settle in the city or even Orange County, you will want to visit downtown Santa Ana again and again.



Santa Ana's Downtown runs from Ross Street to French, down First Street to Civic Center. Downtown includes both the new and old city hall buildings, the first ever Courthouse in Orange County, the U.S. Courthouse, the new Artist’s Village and the Fiesta Marketplace.


Foodies and hipsters are taking over the area to create a truly unique and exciting experience. The architecture in the area includes Art Deco styles and exposed brick. The first Saturday of every month Downtown hosts an ArtWalk and Thursdays from 2-8pm the farmer’s market comes to town.



Nicole says, “It’s like a downtown Seattle with beer houses popping up. There is such a huge mixed culture downtown with so many amazing restaurants and great places to visit. I love trying out new places to eat with my friends and family.”

Nicole’s restaurant recommendations in town are Playground, Chapter One and The Little Sparrow. The Playground started as a food truck known as the Lime Truck down in South County.  The owner brought his followers down to Santa Ana with him and has continued to satisfy every since. The menu changes regularly based on the freshest ingredients the chef can procure and features unique cocktails.

Chapter One is popular among college students and the young adult crowd. This gastropub has a handpicked selection of beers, wines and spirits with a seasonal menu.

The Little Sparrow was recently reviewed by the Orange County Register with rave reviews. This high end restaurant requires reservations and features a really avant guard menu.

Moving on up in Santa Ana

Santa Ana is a great place to settle in Orange County not only because of thriving new Downtown but also because there are great move up opportunities for homeowners who want to stay in the area. Two amazing neighborhoods in Santa Ana for move up buyers are Floral Park and West Floral Park.


Floral Park and West Floral Park are historical districts of Santa Ana, beautifully maintained and secluded neighborhoods just outside of downtown. While they’re outside of the price range for most first time  home buyers (average prices range from $600,000’s to over $1 Million), these areas are prime for move up buyers searching for a close knit community and charm all within the exciting Santa Ana area.


In total the neighborhoods include about 2,000 homes and each lot is completely unique and different. These historic neighborhoods feature larger lots than most found in Orange County, mature tree lined streets, and well built homes made of lathe and plaster with raised foundations. There are joggers from the court house around lunch time and families out walking their dogs in the neighborhood which makes the area feel very small town and safe.


Nichole is a resident of the area and expert on everything there is to know about these historical neighborhoods. She loves the area because of the close knit community feel and its beauty. “We do a lot of neighborhood get togethers. We have progressive dinners, wine walks, and concerts under the stars. It’s a very special place to live.”


If you’re interested in learning more about Santa Ana and what the area has to offer, reach out to Nichole at (714)272-4033 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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