LOS ANGELES — Living in Hollywood helped Leo Martinez ease into the Los Angeles scene. It’s handing over rent payments that has him looking for a place he and his partner can call their own.

“We want to start investing into ourselves,” Martinez said. “The renter’s market just keeps paying for other people’s mortgage, and we think to ourselves, ‘If we could qualify to have an apartment to rent, I don’t know why we shouldn’t qualify to own.’”

For the last year, Martinez and his partner began to put money aside to find their starter home possibly in the San Fernando Valley, where the median salle price is at about $900,000.

“The budget we would look for is $500,000 or less,” Martinez said. “I think, you know, that’s a fair number, especially when you think about what it would cost monthly for a mortgage. I think the rent we pay now equals more than that.”

Martinez is just getting started on his home buying journey and checking out different neighborhoods. In January, there were 241,000 existing home sales. That’s a 45% decrease compared to January of last year, according to the latest housing data from the California Association of Realtors. Scott Ehrens, a realtor with COMPASS, says that California’s housing market is cooling off and likely to be more favorable to buyers later this year.

“We were in a market where houses would sit for maybe zero days or a handful of days,” Ehrens said. “Now, it depends on the area, but it might be 40 to even 100 days.”

While this might be frustrating for sellers, this gives future first-time homebuyers time to get prepared, Ehrens added.

“Getting your own finances in order, working with a lender to find out what programs are available to you and securing your pre-approval letter for a loan — all of that, you need to do in advance if you’re going to be taken seriously by the listing agent for the seller,” he said.

For Martinez, it’s a dream he’s hoping to make a reality.

“I think the right situation will align,” he said. “We just have to be patient.”