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SAN DIEGO – Being a couch potato has left Flora Waite sitting pretty. And if things work out, Waite and her family may soon be doing that sitting in a new home, thanks to a San Diego television station promotion and a $25,000 prize offered by California Coast Credit Union. Waite selected the “Own It and Love It” prize package – $20,000 towards the down payment on a home and $5,000 in furnishings – as a winner in Fox 6 TV’s Couch Potato promotion. The viewer loyalty promotion aired on Fox 6 and UPN 13 gave TV watchers “codes” during the day which they then entered on the Fox Web site, giving them the chance to win a variety of prizes or sweepstakes ranging up to $100,000. The San Diego-based credit union had offered either the $25,000 home package or $20,000 for a new car plus $5,000 for add-on accessories such as a DVD player or GPS system. The promotion drove viewers to the California Coast Web site and to its branches, where they could learn about the credit union and its programs. It wasn’t known how many of those visitors became members of the credit union. “They were exposed to our messages,” said Tracy Fournier, a marketing specialist who spearheaded the promotion. “We wanted to let viewers know about the home loan programs that we have and that we can get people into a house easier than ever could before.” Only 11% of people living in the San Diego area can afford a home, Fournier said, “so we figured this (the down payment on a home) would be a great prize.” Exactly how far that down payment will go may be open to question. The median price of a home in San Diego County in September was $480,000, up 23% from a year earlier, according to DataQuick Information Systems. The San Diego Association of Realtors reported the median home price was $495,000. Despite those high prices, Ren McKee, vice president of marketing for California Coast, said low interest rates and a variety of creative lending programs can combine to make home ownership a reality for many people who may not think they would qualify. “There are a number of lending options available for first-time buyers to help them get into a home,” McKee said. Those options include a variety of fixed and adjustable rate mortgages, interest-only options and zero down home loan adjustable rate mortgages, she said. California Coast is promoting a $750 closing cost special on ARMs with initial fixed rates from three to 10 years. The $750 fee covers loan processing, underwriting, appraisal, credit report, document preparation, tax service, flood report, escrow, express mail, title insurance, tax report, notary and courier fees. Fournier said the promotion provided California Coast with a “good way to educate viewers about our home loan programs to let them know they actually could afford to buy a home and that there were other options out there and to give somebody the opportunity. So I thought it was a win-win.” The promotion also gave California Coast, one of the area’s largest credit unions with 70,000 members and $750 million in assets, a chance to get some exposure on television. “I thought it was great exposure for us because we got prime time exposure which we normally couldn’t afford,” Fournier said. She added that the credit union was considering participating in another couch potato promotion being planned by the station. Waite, who had no connection with the credit union prior to winning the prize, works as a paralegal for a downtown San Diego law firm. She and her husband and 10-year-old son currently live in an apartment, where space will become even tighter after the pregnant Waite has another child. Waite said the money will allow the family to put a down payment on a home in San Diego County, something they couldn’t previously afford to do. Fournier said Waite has opened an account at the credit union but she didn’t know if the paperwork had been started for a home loan. -

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