Buying our first home - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 04-21-2016, 06:56 AM
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Buying our first home

We wish we would've been a bit more prepared, but we got word our rental is being put on the market last weekend and we'll (obviously) need to move soon. We've decided now is as good a time as ever to try to buy since housing prices are exploding where we are and we may not be able to afford to get into one if we wait much longer.

I'm super nervous about the whole process though, especially the going into debt part as we have never had any form of debt before (so much so my parents have to cosign because my husband has no credit history at all and mine is just one credit card I've paid off in full every month but my very very good credit score doesn't count because I don't work). We at least got in our application for pre-approval yesterday though and are waiting to hear back what we qualify for. Given our time crunch to move quickly and the fact my husband works so much, I'm the one who will have to handle the bulk of this process, which is quite intimidating to me. I've found us apartments before, he trusted me to pick out his car without him even test driving it first because he had no time to shop for one at the time, but this is just a bigger deal. We would plan to stay in a house at least 10 years, if not longer and a home is a lot bigger commitment than a rental.

Of course he does want to see the most interesting properties and we do discuss *everything* at night. I'm a detailed note taker so he's completely in the loop of everything that's been discussed and done, but I'm the one who will be viewing all the potential options and narrowing it down and the one primarily dealing with the realtor and loan people. Scary! Wish us luck in finding a place!
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#2 Old 04-21-2016, 12:22 PM
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Good luck Kiwibird! It is exciting to buy a new home! Please be picky because the worst case scenario would be that you rent a month to month place until your dream home comes up on the market. Happy shopping!
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#3 Old 04-21-2016, 01:56 PM
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This is exciting! Living with companion animals, I've always found it more comforting to own rather than to rent, because no one can arbitrarily say, "You can no longer have X animal on the property."

You'll end up finding a place that speaks to you.
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#4 Old 04-21-2016, 02:17 PM
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Oh we don't have the money for a 'dream home' or anything remotely close and we know that. Maybe in another 10/15 years we can start looking when we have all the time and money we need to I try to keep my expectations realistic. We haven't lived in more than 750 sq ft in almost 10 years, so whether we get into a 2 bedroom condo or manufactured (which is what is realistically in our price range) is going to be a HUGE upgrade to us and we're very excited to have a place that is ours! I'm sure we can find a lovely started home, even if it isn't everything we ever dreamed of. We aren't even 30, so we have plenty of time to get the dream home later. Actually, we're hoping we can find something a bit dated and cosmetically ugly we can get a good deal on and make the cosmetic upgrades ourselves.
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#5 Old 04-21-2016, 02:31 PM
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This is exciting! Living with companion animals, I've always found it more comforting to own rather than to rent, because no one can arbitrarily say, "You can no longer have X animal on the property."

You'll end up finding a place that speaks to you.
Yes, I will feel much more secure about Mr. Kiwi in our own place He isn't really a loud bird (he has his rare moments, but he's really quiet for a amazon), he has never done anything destructive to anything (besides his toys) but people hear "parrot" and assume messy, screeching, chew all the wood up monster. We had so much trouble finding a place to rent here when we moved because of him, even though our last landlord was willing to verify he had caused no issues or damages. Just in case we don't find a place in time and can't find a rental that allows him, we already have someone lined up who he can stay with for a while and will sign a contract we get him back.

We did specify no HOA, it's one of our only requirements besides passing an inspection, not being in a high crime area and having 2 bedrooms. Other than those minimum requirements, we're pretty open-minded
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#6 Old 04-21-2016, 02:34 PM
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That is exciting! It sounds like you're both financially responsible and frugal which is imperative in buying a home. I bought and sold last year and you want any advice it's to run from 'flipped' houses, or new cosmetic updates. I went for old so I could see the real walls, cabinets, floor and not pretty covers of what holds it together. New drywall on a newly 'finished' basement or upstairs can hide lots of imperfections- water damage, mold, bulging foundation, even poor wiring and plumbing. Same with cabinet doors on old cabinets that fail. New flooring that hides bad subflooring only to cost tons more if you ever redo it, or worse covering uneven subflooring that shows up with wear. Look for new in terms of big money items like roofs, heating and air, good plumbing and electric boxes.
I lost money on the house i sold due to the above as well as just personal reasons. I quickly sold to a 'flipper' and was shocked by the tricks they used to renovate it, but even more by what they didn't fix. It was sold for quite a profit. I bought an old 1926 house knowing I'd need to put money into things, but it was priced accordingly.
Don't ever buy more than you need, don't fall for realtors selling points- they may say they're on your side but it's the sale they're after.

You're looking in the same area you're in now? I'ts good to be that familar with the area.
also suggest looking at the county records of homes around the ones you look at to get find price and selling historys and tax rates
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#7 Old 04-22-2016, 12:24 AM
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We bought a bit of a wreck in 2014 (no working toilets type wreck). Unfortunately the area we live in doesn't give big discounts for renovation projects - but just enough that we could afford it. We certainly couldn't afford it now all the work's been done. It's much bigger than we 'need' it's got 4 bedrooms and there's only 2 of us but it's a house we're planning on being in for 15yrs or more. So if you can find a house in need of love (and a hefty amount of elbow grease) go for it!

All I'd say is have your suppliers and contractors lined up ahead of time if you're using them (I'm thinking plumbers & electricians - we did a lot of the demolition, building and decorating ourselves).

Congrats on being imminent home owners!
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#8 Old 04-22-2016, 04:25 AM
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Well, I guess we confused condos with townhouses. A condo is an apartment you only own the inside of, and we would probably want to just keep on renting if we have to deal with more miserable apartment living and be on the hook for our repairs as the "owners" yet having to abide by whatever arbitrary rules the HOA imposes upon us and pay them rent (excuse me, the "HOA fee") on top of our mortgage with no real benefits of ownership we can figure. If we can't find something we don't have a neighbor above or below us in, we just won't buy at this time. We don't mind sharing side walls, but no mortgage if we'll have people stomping around upstairs and being forced to pay to hear them!

We really want to stay on this side of the river, but are open to areas with low crime so long as it's in the Portland metropolitan area. We don't want a true fixer either, more a cosmetic fixer with the kind of projects we can handle ourselves (paint, fixtures, appliances, counters, possibly even flooring kind of thing). Since we are forced to take out a mortgage, the bank will require it pass an inspection (and we would even if we didn't use the bank). They won't require it to be pretty though Hopefully we can find a dated place with old appliances and yucky paint colors so we can get a good deal on it! I'm still hoping for a manufactured home on it's own lot so the lender can loan on it (if they are in a park, we can't buy one since we can't get a loan and don't have all the cash up front). My grandma lived in one and I remember it being nice enough (much nicer than apartment living!). I really think that'll be the closest we will possibly get to a real house for a very, very long time and is our preferred option. A townhouse or townhouse style condo would be our next choices. Renting would be the option after that, because a regular condo isn't worth the hassle to us.
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#9 Old 04-22-2016, 04:49 AM
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Hope you find something you can all be happy in. I agree that condo fees bite pretty hard; I keep a condo in Portland myself. It was the choice for me because I'm only there a few months out of the year and rent it out furnished when I'm away. An empty condo is more secure than an empty house, but that's not your situation.

I guess one advantage of condos is that it gets you into better (walkable, bikeable, fun places to eat) neighborhoods for the money when you're buying a starter place, and properties in the fun neighborhoods appreciate faster than homes further out. Don't know if that makes up for the HOAs, but I love being in my neighborhood and couldn't have afforded a house here.
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#10 Old 04-22-2016, 09:04 AM
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Hope you find something you can all be happy in. I agree that condo fees bite pretty hard; I keep a condo in Portland myself. It was the choice for me because I'm only there a few months out of the year and rent it out furnished when I'm away. An empty condo is more secure than an empty house, but that's not your situation.

I guess one advantage of condos is that it gets you into better (walkable, bikeable, fun places to eat) neighborhoods for the money when you're buying a starter place, and properties in the fun neighborhoods appreciate faster than homes further out. Don't know if that makes up for the HOAs, but I love being in my neighborhood and couldn't have afforded a house here.

We probably couldn't afford a lot of the HOA fees on top of a mortgage. We live pretty frugally, but as you know the housing market here is going pretty crazy. We also are trying to consider we plan to have kids, probably in the next year so it makes condo living even more unappealing. Especially since, if there were no unforeseen complications that required a hospital birth, I'm pretty adamant about home birth. A condo is likely not too ideal for that And I think kids would do better in a less busy area than most condos are located. But in the future, for a vacation home, I think it would be a nice option to have one somewhere we liked and rent it out You had a really good idea there!

Just curious, is your place being rented now? We're pretty confident we'll be able to get out of our current rental before it sells, but if not, we may be interested in a short term lease! We have good credit and renters history
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#11 Old 04-22-2016, 01:26 PM
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Just curious, is your place being rented now? We're pretty confident we'll be able to get out of our current rental before it sells, but if not, we may be interested in a short term lease! We have good credit and renters history
Thanks for asking!!!! There's a tenant 'til the end of May, and I'm there from June through September. With any luck you'll be in your new home by then, but if not we should talk. We can meet up anyway and I'll show you the place. It's small. Probably less than 550 sq ft. There's a couple in there now, but I don't know how they do it.

Is there any temporary job you could get to qualify for a bigger mortgage? Or a home-improvement loan folded into a mortgage if you find a nice fixer? If you bought a house or townhouse with a walk-out basement, you could have it made into an apartment. At that point, once that rent was coming in, you could be home again.

My daughter bought a little house in Kenton a few years ago, and for awhile rented out a room in the basement as a bedroom-only. The tenant would come upstairs for the shared bathroom and kitchen. But she found a great and inexpensive handyman who re-did the space and now it's a one-br apt with its own kitchen and bath. So her current tenant is more like a good neighbor than a roommate, and there's twice as much rent coming in as before the upgrade. That rent covers most of the mortgage. I know, it's probably too much to bite off right now. But if you find a good fixer now, with a private entrance to the basement, maybe you could upgrade it later.
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#12 Old 04-22-2016, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for asking!!!! There's a tenant 'til the end of May, and I'm there from June through September. With any luck you'll be in your new home by then, but if not we should talk. We can meet up anyway and I'll show you the place. It's small. Probably less than 550 sq ft. There's a couple in there now, but I don't know how they do it.

Is there any temporary job you could get to qualify for a bigger mortgage? Or a home-improvement loan folded into a mortgage if you find a nice fixer? If you bought a house or townhouse with a walk-out basement, you could have it made into an apartment. At that point, once that rent was coming in, you could be home again.

My daughter bought a little house in Kenton a few years ago, and for awhile rented out a room in the basement as a bedroom-only. The tenant would come upstairs for the shared bathroom and kitchen. But she found a great and inexpensive handyman who re-did the space and now it's a one-br apt with its own kitchen and bath. So her current tenant is more like a good neighbor than a roommate, and there's twice as much rent coming in as before the upgrade. That rent covers most of the mortgage. I know, it's probably too much to bite off right now. But if you find a good fixer now, with a private entrance to the basement, maybe you could upgrade it later.
Well was worth a shot We have never lived in bigger than 750 sq ft actually. Our first was 250, our one before this one was 500 and we lived there for about 3 1/2 years. I like living in smaller spaces actually (so many years watching my mom have to clean a huge house) and if my husband wasn't in the picture, I'd probably live in a small RV. I'm going to be a bit overwhelmed with a 2 bedroom and likely over 1000 sq ft home We'd rather live in a smaller less nice place than have roommates. Even if I got a job, it probably would be part time and close to minimum wage since I don't have a college degree or any qualifications outside of retail sales. I doubt it would help that much and we are actually trying to keep well under what we're pretty certain we're going to qualify for. We don't want to be living that tight.

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#13 Old 04-23-2016, 04:05 AM
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Sounds exciting, Kiwi08. If you video the properties to show the husband, it will give him a good idea of what they're like.
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#14 Old 04-23-2016, 06:05 AM
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Sounds exciting, Kiwi08. If you video the properties to show the husband, it will give him a good idea of what they're like.
That's actually a GREAT idea! He's so busy he can't possibly come see multiple listings, but he could watch a video I took after work/when he had time. TBH though, I don't think he cares too much. I'm trying to get him to look at listings online and the photos, but he think they "all look pretty much the same" lol. His one and only thing he wants is to try and keep in the area we are now, or a similarly nice area.
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#15 Old 04-23-2016, 07:43 AM
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We'd rather live in a smaller less nice place than have roommates. Even if I got a job, it probably would be part time and close to minimum wage since I don't have a college degree or any qualifications outside of retail sales. I doubt it would help that much and we are actually trying to keep well under what we're pretty certain we're going to qualify for. We don't want to be living that tight.
I wouldn't do well with roommates either. I need privacy! But if I had someone in the basement who never came upstairs, I could roll with that pretty well, especially if they were paying most of my mortgage. A starter home doesn't normally give you that, but it's something to work toward once you're shopping for more space. The home you buy now might not be the home you raise your kids in.

A manufactured home will give a lot of bang for the buck with space and features, but they don't hold their value as well as a stick-built home does. Most real estate appreciates, but in most markets you end up selling a manufactured home for less than you paid for it, unless the land it's on becomes more valuable. Whatever you do now, one good priority would be to find a home that will appreciate for you. The cheapest home you can find in the best neighborhood you can afford, that's what economists tell us to go for. I see Portland one-bedroom houses for sale now and then, which are good for buying now and adding onto later. Anyway, you're doing some great thinking about all your options, I know you'll find a good space for yourselves!
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#16 Old 04-23-2016, 09:13 AM
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I wouldn't do well with roommates either. I need privacy! But if I had someone in the basement who never came upstairs, I could roll with that pretty well, especially if they were paying most of my mortgage. A starter home doesn't normally give you that, but it's something to work toward once you're shopping for more space. The home you buy now might not be the home you raise your kids in.

A manufactured home will give a lot of bang for the buck with space and features, but they don't hold their value as well as a stick-built home does. Most real estate appreciates, but in most markets you end up selling a manufactured home for less than you paid for it, unless the land it's on becomes more valuable. Whatever you do now, one good priority would be to find a home that will appreciate for you. The cheapest home you can find in the best neighborhood you can afford, that's what economists tell us to go for. I see Portland one-bedroom houses for sale now and then, which are good for buying now and adding onto later. Anyway, you're doing some great thinking about all your options, I know you'll find a good space for yourselves!
We haven't minded renting a basement apartment. The only time we've ever been upstairs (just me actually) is when I took care of their bird when they were on vacation. It really hasn't been too bad, but they are a older couple and respect our privacy as much as we respect theirs. Though personally, if I had the money for a home large enough to comfortably house renters I never had to see, I wouldn't want them anyways. We aren't even interested in a 1 bedroom at this point. We want to start having kids before 30 (hubby is almost 28 and I'm 27) so... we need to get going on that I'm already MUCH older than I ever wanted to be to start having kids. I wish we had kids out of diapers by now and were done, but that's not how life went.

We plan to stay wherever we move for 10-12 years. The thought with the manufactured is that it would be inexpensive enough we could pay it off in that timeframe while continuing saving for a nicer house. Then we'd just own the manufactured and wouldn't plan to sell it at all. We could rent it out for a while and once we had kids ready to leave home, they could have an option of somewhere to live where they just pay US "rent" we'd stick into a savings account for them so they wouldn't have to waste all that money renting elsewhere (if they choose). Or we could just keep on renting it out and have it as a small family asset. My parents earn good money and had set aside money for me to go to college or to help buy a house. I never went to college, so they're giving us that as the 20% down payment for our house. We're not sure we'll be able to save that much for our kids, so owning a property free and clear they can live for a few years and pay us rent we'd stick in a savings account for them (instead of paying it to a landlord) would be money for a house or student loans or whatever would be something we COULD help provide to help their future. Or if one fell on hard times or had a baby young or something, it would be a secure place to stay. That's the thought at least-something we invest in for the long term with our future children in mind. Seems a manufactured would be the best option, but it's really our thought with whatever kind of property type we get into on this low budget would be pay it off an hold onto it. We're long-term thinkers and planners. Obviously things can change, but it's always good to look to the future too when making a big decision I think.
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#17 Old 04-23-2016, 09:16 AM
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You are a wise young woman, @Kiwibird08
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#18 Old 04-24-2016, 05:45 AM
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Been up all night again coming to terms with everything. We are meeting the relator today and spent a long time yesterday on the website she told us to look at for listings. Unfortunately, we found the very nice and desirable to us manufactured I had seen wouldn't be available for financing (Joe found them on the map, and they didn't say it but they were in parks). It's actually pretty grim what's available in our budget. It seems we're stuck getting into an apartment-like "condo" with an HOA. We might as well build the equity instead of renting, but it is so, so very disappointing that getting into a mortgage we aren't even able to get into freestanding structure, even in outlying communities because of the market here. Even empty land to put a manufactured on would be out of budget and time frame. Heck, we won't even "own" anything but the 4 interior walls of the thing. The plan now is to go for the least expensive option in the best location with the best potential to upgrade finishes and appliances to modernize for maximize resale or rental value. We discussed it and all the ephemeral "this is our first home where we'll raise kids" BS is out the window and we need to focus on the financial side of things. They all look really generic, outdated (hopefully a negotiation point) and like one would expect any older, generic 2 bedroom apartment to look like. A few appear to have light cosmetic upgrade up potential that a few thousand bucks and some of my DIY skills could really increase the value of it.

I had such high hopes if we waited until we were a bit older, made the sacrifice of living in less than ideal rentals in order to save our money before buying we could skip the step of ending up somewhere just like this. I wanted so badly to be excited buying our first "home", instead I just feel like we'll be moving into yet another apartment that's nothing more than a roof over our head, just for a much, much longer time. I think the worst part is, we'll have kids already well into school before we can afford a tiny starter house, despite being so frugal and sacrificing so many luxuries. This whole deal is painful. At least we'll be paying ourselves the rent in equity instead of throwing it down a black hole paying it to a landlord, so I just have to focus on that and push the disappointment over the whole situation out of my head. It's harder to override disliking where we'll be moving again more than it has been in the past though. I'm trying to keep in mind I really should be grateful as there are also so many on this planet with so much less than us and I feel greedy and like a bad person for feeling disappointment. The sooner its done, the better though because I'm really on my last nerve already and quite sleep deprived.
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#19 Old 04-24-2016, 06:30 AM
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You're talking around the Portland area? WOOOOOOWWWWW!
I'm in NE Ohio and could find you 3-4 homes for the price of one comparable house!!
The one I clicked on that seemed like mine (built in 26, similar size) $325000. I paid $80000. for mine, and nice neighborhood.
I realize area is important, but are you that committed to staying there? When my company was bought out I had an opportunity to seek a job in ore or washington state and just couldn't justify the expense with the risk, as much as I wanted the change
HOA's can add an awful lot of expense and risk. They change the rules at whim from what I know. Upgrading is no guarantee of profit, or shield against loss
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#20 Old 04-24-2016, 06:32 AM
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Oh Kiwibird I feel for you! I really didn't want a mammoth project but it's what we could afford ...

Don't feel bad because you're disappointed. It's a totally normal and valid reaction. Look at it this way - if you get an apartment at least you are on the ladder. Not the rung you wanted but you're on it! If prices are going crazy in your area - flip it. Fix it up, decorate it (do not bother with upgrading appliances unless they are on death's door - so many people want their own), make it look lovely and sell it for a profit. Make a 2 year plan for what you want to achieve. Consider that job - because even min wage will pay for the DIY supplies you need (and also potentially for someone to do some work).

Consider telling the realtors that you will take on a project. When you see a project make a list of the things that you can live without and what you can live with (our kitchen is still beyond awful but it was nothing in comparison to the bathrooms - it's the last big renovation project here).

The right place is out there for you!
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#21 Old 09-07-2017, 06:03 AM
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Purchasing a new home can be an exciting time for many individuals and their families. While a new home can be a rewarding experience for many people, it's important to research a home before making any significant financial decisions. Older plumbing systems and sewage system should be inspected by a sewer repair service NJ professional home inspection service. One should also inspect a home's water heater. A gas water heater should be checked for cracks, poor maintenance, rust and other issues that can cause problems in the future. An electric water heater should be checked for corrosion.
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