I recently moved to Carlsbad and if Del Mar homes ever go for $400k, I'll buy two.
sorry if Im being insensitive but I'd hate to see you come all the way out from NC, only to be disappointed.
No, no, you cant get into Del Mar. try 2 to 15 million and you might be on to something...
whatever you do, dont buy in Oceanside, Escondido or Chula Vista.
and dont give up on SD and go north to Riverside/Inland Empire.
youre from NC, right? well, San Diego is the Tarheels and Riverside is NC State.
You might want to consider San Marcos (Discovery Hills) just make sure to look at the 92078 zip code not 92069.
its nice and family friendly and reasonably close (15 minutes) to the beaches.
you should be able to find a few houses there in your range.
if you like newer developments, check out San Elijo Hills. its a newer cookie cutter neighborhood with lots of different mini-communities. not sure if 400k will get you much though.
wherever you go, ask about Mello Roos and HOAs. they can get pricey.
Del Mar might be a bit of a stretch for what you are seeking, but there are some remarkable buys that come close to what you are seeking in San Marcos, Vista and Oceanside.
Chances are, in those you would be looking at a short sale or foreclosure on a newer home that sold for far more just a couple or so years ago.
Additionally, by staying under the $700,000 price range, you should be able to qualify for very favorable FHA financing,
Villa Sotheby's International Realty
I have 2 suggestions, 1) build a relationship with a local realtor who can help you navigate the best places in San Diego ..ie. fitting your needs like commute to work, schools etc.
2) Evaluate whether you really need a 5 bed 3 bath home. You would have more luck if you adjusted your criterion a bit. WIth your criterion and price range you will either find a contractors special-a house that needs $ and work, something that is either far north or far south of the central hub of San Diego, or houses in less desirable neighborhoods. You will not find anything in the central coastal del mar area. For your price range in the Del Mar as well as immediate surrounding areas...400k will get you a condo 1 bed 1 bath-3bed 2 bath all around 1200 sqft or smaller.
I am a San Diego native, if you are not working with anyone, I would be happy to help. Feel free to contact me anytime.