Thursday, May 17, 2012

House Shopping

I've been house shopping for years now.  I seem to recall the first time I was serious was back in 2008, when the prices started to come down.  I remember because I was standing in the driveway of the guest house I was renting, talking to one of my parents on the phone, and I said I might buy myself a condo for Christmas.  It was not Christmas time, but apparently I thought I'd be more ready by Christmas.  I ended up deciding against the condo due to the lack of yard, HOAs that probably limit the number of dogs and the HOA fee.  But at the time I did get pre-approved for a loan and had a realtor and everything.

Before 2008 I had longingly looked at houses online, but knew I could never afford one.

Here it is 4 years later after my first serious attempts to buy a house.  I make more money now, my credit is even better, interest rates are the lowest they've ever been in my lifetime and house prices are supposedly cheap.  On one real estate website I frequent, someone asked, "What are you (meaning a collective you) waiting for?"

I'm waiting to find a home I can afford.  Even with everything in my favor, home prices are still out of my reach.  Every so often one comes along in one of the towns I want to live in, with an ok sized yard, and it is in my price range.  I get all excited and contact my realtor, only to be told it already has 20 offers, and half of those are cash buyers.  Or as in one case, even though it was not mentioned on the website, the foundations has serious cracks and will need thousands of dollars in repairs.

When I went to see a few houses years ago, it wasn't cash buyers who beat me out, but people offering over $100k the asking price.  So even though on paper I could afford the houses, in reality I could not.

Now it seems houses may be selling for under the asking price, but it is those "investors" with their all cash offers who are taking all the houses I might be able to afford.

I'm living in this studio to save money to be in a stronger position to buy a house.  I think I've done everything right.  I have good credit, I have cash for closing costs (I was planning on going VA so I don't need a down payment but as things are going, I am saving cash for down payment also) and as of right now  I don't even have a car loan (although that could change), and no credit card balances to pay off, and no student loans. 

Sigh- it is very discouraging.  It is almost enough for me to email the landlady of the blue duplex and tell her to contact me next time it is open for rent.  Rent there with the nice big yard in my favorite city until I retire then buy something somewhere cheap and then it will be my turn to be a cash buyer.

I could buy a house in the town close to me with a high gang population, or buy a house in the safe town 2 towns over and drive over 40 minuets to work and have a small yard and live in a hot place.  I know lots of people drive far to get to work, but I guess I'd rather rent than be one of those people.  If I'm going to spend the money, I want the perfect house.  Or if I can't have the perfect house, it has to at least be in the town I want to live in.  I've lived enough places now to know that it won't do to be unsatisfied with a house you bought.  If you are renting you can move, but that isn't an option when you just bought.

The further I get from work, the bigger the yard has to be to justify moving there.  Big yards in Southern California are few and far between.  When it comes to the house itself, I am easy to please.  I want at least 2 bedrooms, and it must be structurally sound with no major repairs needed.  I don't care it if needs "updating."  I don't think a house "needs" updating.  I think a house could "need" repairs, but updating isn't necessary, it is nice to have.  All of the places I've rented could have used updating, so I'm used to it.

And so the search continues, but it also continues to depress me.

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