Debating buying a house - advice?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Debating buying a house - advice?
12
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 1:42pm

Any thoughts or idea for how to decide about this would be appreciated - I'm spinning in my own head.

DH and I have been looking to buy a house this spring/summer. We're in a (nice, well-located) two-bedroom apartment right now, and it's getting smaller as Patrick gets bigger.

We know what we want in a house, we know where we want it, and we know how much we can pay. But, I'm not sure I can have all three :) So, lat weekend we found a house that has most of what we want, for about 10% more than we want to pay, in a slightly less perfect location. It's actually a location a lot of people do want, but we'd been hoping to be a bit closer to public transportation since I work in the city. Note, these locations are all on a half-mile scale. But, we walk a lot of places, so being a half-milk up a hill instead of a flat block from the main street is a big difference.

Otoh, this house is walking distance two all three schools Patrick would attend, as well as the preschool I want him to go to. It's in a great family neighborhood, near a great sledding hill and two parks. Those things may well become more important t us in the coming years.

The house also does need some work, though it's totally livable as-is. But, being 10% over our desired price doesn't leave money to do much.

So, I can't decide if we should go for it, since it may well be the closest were going to find to our requirements, or try to hold out for something more perfect. It is priced appropriately, though we'd try to negotiate down some.

We've sent mail to request a second showing and I have a call into a mortgage broker. This could be an exciting week!

~Lorien











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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 2:04pm

I can offer you my two cents - buying and being a homeowner is not all it's cracked up to be. To be absolutely honest, I wish DH and I had rented longer and waited to buy. But we're in a bit of a different situation, probably. We live in a condo and have to pay strata fees and still put up with all the BS that comes with apartment living (noisy neighbours, having no backyard, worrying that someone else is going to burn your home to the ground ). Also, if they decide to do major repairs or renovations, we're on the hook for part of the bill - whereas if you live in your own house, you can renovate and/or repair whenever you want - provided of course the house isn't going to fall down around your ears. That being said, if you are going to own - be prepared to have a contingency fund in case your roof caves in, your pipes burst, your hot water tank dies, or God knows what. INO, don't pay too much and leave yourself really strapped.


However, interest rates are going up in Canada right now so it's a really good time to seriously think about buying before they go too high. However I have no idea what interest rates are doing in the US right now.


Although being really close to schools and parks like you described sounds fantastic, of course don't let it be the only factor in your decision making. But you don't want to just hold out and keep waiting for the "perfect" place to come along either - prices and/or interest could go up and you may miss the boat. It is such a hard decision to make, believe me!


Sorry, I may not have been much help, and may have only muddied the waters further!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2006
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 2:18pm

Lorien - I totally understand that deciding to bid on a house is a huge decision and enough to make your head spin! DH and I have been there. For us it came down to knowing we would be quite disappointed if we "lost" the opportunity to buy the house. (And we are still very happy with our decision more than two years later:).


Here are a couple things I would consider if I were you...


1) What are your real "must haves" and does this house meet those requirements?


2) How well will you be able to afford the mortgage (as opposed to a mortgage on a house that's 10% cheaper)?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2007
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 2:27pm

Well...I was watching a lot of "My first home" on TLC last night. I really got the impression that getting everything you want is pretty much impossible.

That being said, for me, location is huge. We have one car and walk pretty much everywhere, so if that's how you are, you might want to hold out for the location you want. I guess it depends on if you're willing to sacrifice space and that sort of thing. For us we are. We could get a bigger place outside of the city we live in now, but it's just not worth it, we like to be able to walk everywhere, and be close to everything. Then again, maybe if we were in a "house buying" phase of life I would reevaluate that.

So... I guess I'm no help at all. From watching that "my first home" show though, I would say you're probably going to have to sacrifice one of your criteria, and so you should evaluate which criteria is most important. It sounds like you like this house quite a bit though, and if that's the case, I think you should go for it!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2006
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 2:55pm

We just went through the whole house-buying process, and it's tough to pass on a house that's okay, but not really your ideal.

When we walked into the house we ended up buying, we both loved it. However, we weren't sure about it initially. On our "must have list" it was in the middle of our price range, in the perfect neighborhood (the one we wanted to be in), a nice backyard, close to schools, four bedrooms. But, it also had an older kitchen that HAD to be renovated and only one bath.

We went to see some other houses, but the more we saw, the more we kept thinking back to that house ("But that other house had X", etc)...nothing was piquing our interest like it did. At one point, we told our real estate agent we wanted to go back to see it. He told us that there was an offer on the house, but it was conditional. Our hearts broke a bit. But, a day or two later, he called and said the offer fell through. We went back and saw it, and ended up putting in an offer that night!

We figured that we were NEVER going to find a house that is 100% perfect for us. Even if the kitchen was renovated, it might not have been done to our taste (which we were finding in a lot of houses). So, we decided to pay less for a house overall and put money into renovations to get the kitchen we want.

One other thing - when we walked into that house, it felt like our home. We did not get that feeling in other houses. I know it sounds lame/cliche, but it was true!

As for your decision - only you and your DH know if it's worth it. I think the suggestion of thinking about how you would feel if you didn't get it would help a lot. It sure help make our minds up!

Good luck!





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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2007
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 3:18pm

My Dad is a real estate broker and I will second what a lot of people have said--most people think that they should be able to get all this stuff that they want, but they aren't realizing that those things mean paying a little more (which is what you are discovering!).

Personally, I think in our area (which I think I remember you saying you are in MA, right?) prices are only going to continue to go up. I would say if you like the place and will be comfortably able to afford the mortgage payments, it is worth it to buy sooner before prices go up even more (and remember the $8000 first time home buyer tax credit is still good right now but won't be for much longer).

With this said, owning a home is a lot of work and money, (well especially if you have a big yard, but of course it is worth it) but personally, I LOVE the idea that we are paying for our home with our mortgage rather than paying someone else and having nothing in the end like you do when you rent. When we wanted to move again, we would have a large asset to use for financial leverage--you don't have that with a rental (but you also don't have to pay for repairs, :-P).

I guess I would say to go for it, especially with its proximity to the schools and everything. The odds of you finding another place with as much stuff that you want, and for less money, before the tax credit runs out, is very low. And if you found a place after that, odds are you wouldn't even be saving as much as the tax credit is worth and/or it wouldn't have as many things as you are looking for.

And you know you could always put in a little bit of a lower offer and who knows, maybe the seller will accept.

Good luck with your decision! KUP on what you decide to do!!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 3:26pm

Thanks for the replies. We're going to see it in three hours.

We've actually owned a home before, when we lived in a cheaper part of the country. So, we have some sense of what we're getting into.

Kelly - part of the location angst is that where we want to buy it's mostly condos, and you get into a lot of why we don't want to go there. I am also being motivated by the low interest rate right now. And the $8k first-time homebuyer credit that expires at the end of the month. But I don't want to make a bad choice because of it.

Cassie - it does have the vast majority of our must-haves. There's an annoying lack of a first-floor bathroom, and the yard is smaller than I'd love, and the location isn't my first choice. But, the layout is good, it has a yard, a fireplace, a place for a piano, two-car garage, playroom, etc. No master bath, but I'd survive. We can afford the mortgage, though I should run number a little bit more to see how it would affect my ability to stay at home.

But, my issue is that I'm not in love with it. Except, I think that may be in part because the yard needs love, the inside is beige, and the outside is gray. I think that with a little work, I could potentially turn it into someplace I love. There's was a place I fell in love with a couple weeks ago, but I feel like that may largely have been because I adored how it was decorated.

Meanwhile, the real estate market around here is tight right now. If something is priced right, it sells quickly. The condo I mention was under contract the fist weekend it was listed. And apparently another person just went to see this house, so now I'm wondering if they're going to have other offers soon.

Grace - ikwym about location. I'm just concerned that I'm simply attached to our current location and overlooking the benefits of where this house is. It's actually closer (walkable) to a real grocery store than we are now and is a location a lot of people are trying to get into. We're definitely not moving a 30 minute drive out to get a huge place like some people we know have. It's actually on the same bus line that we're currently on.

I think one big issue it that I want a yard, and I'm pretty much not going to get that in the part of town I most want to be in. At least not without spending a crazy amount of money, and even then, there might not be one available. I'd also really love to be able to take advantage of the summer weather to do house projects and have a good year to settle in before TTC #2.

Thanks again so much for all the help thinking through this. I think DH and I are going to spend the afternoon discussing it, then go see it. I'm just starting to worry another bid's going to go in and complicate our lives. But, hey, if someone else buys it, at least I can stop thinking about it!

~Lorien











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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2008
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 10:20pm

By your second post, it seems that you are in a better place with your decision making. I would see if you can get a list of recent comps to get a better idea of if things are moving up in the area you want to be in, or down.

It is such a huge decision to make. Interest rates are relatively low now, but I don't know what they're expected to do in the future. I can ask my IL's- they're in the business and have been pretty accurate in predictions. If you don't think you'll realistically be able to do any better, I say go for it. If it just doesn't feel quite right, wait it out.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!







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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Wed, 03-31-2010 - 10:31pm

Yeah, after looking more at comps and going and seeing the place - it's really in need of a bunch of improvements - I think that they're asking price is very high. We're going to go drive the commute in the morning, and walk around the neighborhood some over the weekend maybe. Then see how we're feeling next week and maybe put in a low offer and see what they do with it. But, it's definitely not a house I want to sink all our cash into.

I'm feeling a lot saner now. Thanks for the help!

~Lorien











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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-26-2008
Thu, 04-01-2010 - 8:52am

Lorien - it seems like you are in a good position on the decision. So I probably won't add much. I agree with lots of the people though in all their advice.

Here in MN the housing market is still picking up, but still the house prices are dropping. Our house value is still above what we paid for it, but not by much.

When we bought our house back when things were hopping. But I totally agree with whoever said that you need a contingency fund. When we moved in, the first year was fine, the 2nd year we had to replace our pool liner. We have had roof problems and a few things here and there that we didn't account for when moving in.

Good luck in finding the right spot. We sacrificed a little on what we wanted on the house because the lot and the yard was amazing. We also didn't realize things that didn't bug us so much to begin with would bother us going forward. Example: Our garage is attached, but you have to walk outside to get to it. and we only have 2 bedrooms on one level, so...we are talking baout adding on another bedroom upstairs...things to think about.

Good luck!


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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2006
Thu, 04-01-2010 - 12:54pm
Good luck making the final decison! I know how tough it is.


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