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 Post subject: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:05 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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PPK-land!

I know a few other PPKers are in the house buying process and I'm getting started on it, so I thought it might be nice to have a thread on the topic!

I am nervous/excited/anxious! We just submitted the last document to get pre-approved for a mortgage so we should know within a week if we are pre-approved. So nerve wracking!

How are other people doing with it? Share your excitement, fears, and experiences here!

*I searched and didn't see anything on it, also wasn't sure where to put it

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:09 pm 
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I want to buy a house, but I have to save up some money first. I fear it'll be another year or two before I can really start looking, but I do check out houses online sometimes. I'll follow this thread for advice.


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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:19 pm 
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I was really surprised that we didn't (theoretically, pending bank pre-approval stuff) need more money down. Wisconsin has a program for people who earn under a certain amount and are first time home buyers where you can put a lot less down! There is even one where you can put 0 down and just pay the down payment off as a loan! We are anticipating putting 3% down so we can be in a slightly nicer neighborhood for us (nicer = slightly more yard and not right by the area where my friend lives (she gets shiitake from neighbors for doing yoga because that is somehow related to the devil and you'll go to hell)).

We found one we are looking at that has a really nice bathtub. I am very excited about it. The main downsides seem to be that it is a 1 car garage (we can live, that's not too bad), it has a crawlspace instead of basement, and all the walls are painted very vibrant shades of red/blue/green/gold/etc. We haven't gone in yet but from online and driving by it looks really nice! And it is in our theoretical price range even without negotiating.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:33 pm 
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Yay house shopping!

We're hopefully going to hear on pre-approval for a mortgage in the next day or so, and the lenders we've spoken to have said that things look good. We're probably in a bit different situation than you, Fizzgig, in that our budget is pretty small (I make okayish money, but D is in school and only works part time, so we're not a full two-income household). We have some savings, but not a tonne, BUT because D is a member of a registered first nations tribe, we're applying for a pretty sweet federally-backed mortgage, which requires 2.25% down and has interest of 3.375%. The thing I'm most worried about is closing costs, since it's one thing to work out your mortgage and tax and insurance payments, but another altogether to know what you're going to need to have on hand. Hopefully we'll have enough.

We just looked at our first place today. It's tiny, but super cute, and appears to be in pretty good shape (though it's a "distressed" property, so there might be some issues - our realtor is inquiring about that). It's in a neighborhood we both really liked, and would almost definitely be a solid investment that we could sell in 3 - 5 years and buy something a little bigger.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:50 pm 
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Re: closing costs - It might be worth it to make paying closing costs a part of your offer - the buyers end up getting the same amount of money and you still pay them in the long run but it's less down all at once. And in the grand scheme of your interest payments, $4000 doesn't add that much in the grand scheme of things.

We didn't do that but I've seen it mentioned a number of times on home buying shows and it could be a good idea for some people.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:53 pm 
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That's what we did and it worked out really well. My understanding is that it's pretty standard practice to do that.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:10 pm 
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It depends what area you are in, but may be a bigger factor in a buyers market (and not to depress you!) but sometimes the money you put down when you put down an offer can make or break an offer. We offered a sizable amount for our townhouse and although they had multiple offers, they took ours and noted that was a factor. It is basically they know you are serious and the closing probably won't fall through.

Also, my friend just sold his house, he said he had 13 offers in 3 days and took the offer that gave them a favorable closing date so that they could buy their new house.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:04 pm 
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Nailed to the V
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The recommended 2.5-times-my-income houses in my city are not nice. But after doing some math it does seem like the 2.5x I hear about is a good standard. That would be pretty close to what I pay in rent right now.


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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:13 pm 
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It does depend where you are, but usually you can get them to agree to pay at least part of it. In TN, it was standard for the sellers to pay closing costs and for this house I think they paid half?

Buying a house is fun and horrible, the looking is more fun if you have a bigger budget obviously, sometimes I would laugh/cry about how bad the houses we looked at were. Like I couldn't believe that anyone thought they were going to sell a house with a hole in the laundry room wall or that someone had sponge painted their dining room with purple sand paint, and I couldn't believe that these were my options, hahaha, kill me.

And then after your offer is accepted, the lender will probably try to ruin your joy for you. My best piece of advice is to assume that they will delay your closing, so don't put in 30 days notice at your current place as soon as your offer is accepted. I think I did write a small novel on here about the grief we were put through both times, the first time we had to rent from the sellers and the lenders still couldn't get their shiitake together and almost left us homeless, I had to give our realtor the okay to call and yell at them.

But it's all worth it in the end because you get a house! It's yours! No landlord to come in, no worries if your cats scratch up the door (I mean that sucks but no one is going to come in and demand you pay $200 to fix it ASAP). You can paint it whatever you want, you can get a motherforking DOG, whatever.

One thing that's hard to accept is that unless you have an unlimited budget, you're going to have to compromise on what you want out of a house. You will probably not get a full basement, fenced in yard, a garage, a shed, or whatever combination of things you want out of one house. BUT you shouldn't settle for a place that has nothing that you want just to have a house. I mean, it's called a starter home for a reason but if you can't see yourself dealing with whatever limitations there are for 5-10 years, don't buy the house.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:44 pm 
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Tigon wrote:
The recommended 2.5-times-my-income houses in my city are not nice. But after doing some math it does seem like the 2.5x I hear about is a good standard. That would be pretty close to what I pay in rent right now.


Honestly, I'd say closer to 2x is much more comfortable. My first townhouse was about 2x my yearly income and I was glad I didn't go for something more expensive but I know it depends on your area and obviously income that if you need to make things stretch a bit more you do.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 4:43 pm 
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And I'll say I loved house shopping, we actually found our current townhouse on the first day of house shopping. I was pretty sad that I didn't get a chance to look at more although we had been to a few open houses.

And I agree with MBM, accept compromises. I've watched shows like property brothers and property virgins where they show people the places that hit all the want items but its way out of budget. Like to us, a basement was important but garage not so much and in our area, townhouses usually have a basement or a garage and lots of places with a garage have the garage in the back which means there is no yard. I wanted a gas stove but the home inspector told me to try the ceramic top for a while before getting rid of it and I decided I liked it. Our bathrooms were really outdated but we decided to wait a few years before updating those.

And things to check out the HOA fee if there is one. Condos tend to have higher HOAs. Our HOA is actually really low but we live in a large community so its split among lots of people. Also, we are responsible for our structure which makes the HOA less (so like new paint, new roof, etc is all our responsibility). Also, I'd say if you are buying an older home, talk to your home inspector about what things may need replacement in the next 5 years. First month we moved in, our washer died. First summer, our AC system died. Our roof was due for replacement. The home inspector told us about the AC and the roof, so we weren't surprised.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 4:54 pm 
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Yeah, we really lucked out with the house we got in that it had almost everything we wanted, fenced in yard, basement, garage, extra room that we could block off for the cats so we wouldn't have to put the litter in the basement and have Genghis be a basement troll again...on the flipside, the family room is ugly as fork (pea soup green baseboard, light pea soup green on top) and the carpet in most of the house is ugly office type-carpet, but that's cosmetic and we can fix it whenever we want or whenever things stop forking breaking.

It also depends on where you live if things are standard. Like in TN, they don't really do basements like they do here because tornadoes aren't much of an issue. Same with garages, it doesn't get quite as cold so it's not considered a necessity and every house that we looked at that did have an attached garage, it had been converted at some point to make an extra room in the tiny house. Houses are also bigger here than in a lot of places. So don't look at the standards I have or anyone else has and try to apply them to your own house hunt if that's not feasible for your area.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:15 pm 
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My advice is this: don't get attached to a house when you're looking, be willing to let it go if it's too expensive, something is terribly wrong etc. It's easy to fall in love with a charming house and then your offer doesn't get accepted, or the sellers are crassholes, or whatever it is. Make sure to have a list with must haves and what you can compromise on. Try to look at a house with the future in mind. Are you looking to be in it for 5 years? The rest of your life? If you were to sell it, would you be able to sell it quickly? I have bought 2 homes and sold one, and have learned so much that I know the next time I will be more prepared and won't make some of the same mistakes.


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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:37 pm 
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I've bought 5 houses and sold 4, although none in the US so can't comment on the process there. A couple of suggestions;

If you find a property that you really love, get someone else to have a look at it too if you can. We asked my parents with the first couple of places we bought and it is really useful to have someone who doesn't have quite so much invested in the decision take a look. They can point out the possible downsides that you haven't noticed because you've fallen in love with the kitchen or whatever. You might decide that the downsides don't matter, but it is better to have them pointed out and dismiss them than not to have noticed them at all.

As others have said, be prepared to overlook the cosmetic stuff, at least the easily changed stuff like paint. You also have to look past the current owner's stuff (assuming the property is still furnished) and picture everything with your stuff in there.

Definitely get a surveyor or inspector to check the place out and advise you of any major work that may need doing, or of any problems like damp that might make you think twice about buying.

I love house hunting! Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:01 pm 
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Biker boy and I are house shopping. Well, technically HE is buying and I'm just along for the ride. I plan on keeping my house as a rental, at least over the short term. We've looked at a dozen or so houses so far and now that the holidays are over, there is more inventory. He was getting pretty discouraged in December. Both of us have been through the process and I was in mortgage lending for 12 years so we feel pretty comfortable about how it's likely to play out. It'll still be crazy stressful though! When I bought my house 5 years ago my eyelid twitched from the time I wrote up the offer until some time after I was finished moving in 40ish days later...

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:04 pm 
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Yeah, I was a twitchy mess for our entire house shopping/buying experience. I wish I could have played it a little cooler when we were buying our place, but I think everyone goes through that.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:11 pm 
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We put the offer in on the house we bought the same week we got married so I understand the twitchy mess part.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:34 pm 
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yeah, i fell in love with a house with a larger yard than we ended up with, but i am happy we were outbid because upon reflection, it would have been a horrible experience for me with the conrail tracks butting up against the backyard. (it honks through our town at like 3am.) our house is just far enough away that i don't hear it at all through my earplugs. :-) i think sleep is more important than being able to grow veggies on more land. i mean i have love-hate opinions on other aspects of the house, but those are fixable. (and while we were on vacation, there was a fedex box on the top step for 2 weeks. i doubt that box would have stayed where it was if we didn't live on a quiet double dead-end "L" street due to the park. also, the park!)

now that zillow exists, you can find houses easier than what we had to do. (waiting for your realtor to find 5 properties and bring you around to them one-by-one. guh! so nerve wracking and time-wasting!)

i also agree with the 2x opinion. (especially if you have school loans. and maybe also subtract whatever credit card debt you have from that figure, too.) we didn't know about the 2.5x guideline and ended up getting a house more than 3.5x my husband's salary at the time (not knowing i'd have such a hard time holding down a job)

and key: keep to a budget! don't let credit card debt run away from you. it's depressingly easy to do. in fact, before you shop for a mortgage, do your budget and estimate the max you'd be able to pay each month and aim for that. that'll have you paying it down lickety split, or at least you won't just be following what the realtor suggests because she's older and wiser and you have no clue. (don't forget to account for the utilities and sewer bills in your budget too, and taxes if they'll not be paid from an escrow account.) this is all stuff i wish i had known 10 years ago.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:53 pm 
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Yay house hunting! We've just started to save--hoping to have 10% down in the next year or so. I'm actually super scared because housing is so expensive in the sf bay and there are crazy bidding wars. The areas that are more affordable just aren't commutable distances or aren't a good investment if we want to sell in the next 5 years.

Right now my goal is to bring up our credit scores to improve our loan terms. It's frustrating--both my SO and I have paid off our car loans, husband has a new car loan, we both have credit cards with no negative marks, and reasonable student debt but are scores are still at "good".

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:53 am 
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I will definitely watch this thread, but we are nowhere remotely close to being able to buy a house. It's depressing to get out a calculator and see what price range we could afford. Because those houses are abandoned and being sold at that price with the intention of them being razed so a new house can be built. Sigh. We both have secure jobs now so hopefully we can start saving.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:44 am 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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Yeah seeing what you can afford is super depressing.

We went to a dinner party at my boss's house. Thought the place was a cute starter home. He lives in a <1000 Sq ft 2 bdr/2 ba house in menlo park built in the 40s. $1.4 million. Yeah. Is this real life?

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:08 am 
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Well and not to add to the depressing but saving is good but there are certain markets where it doesn't make sense to buy and SF may be one of those. I don't know. Although the market has been soft, it is starting to pick up again and waiting it out while you rent may be not a bad idea. I lived in southern california (worked in orange county) after college and within a few years, I wanted to buy a place of my own but with condos being $500k, I knew it wasn't going to happen. That is when I ended up moving to Denver and bought a townhome a year later. Of course then I moved from there but things happen :)

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:38 am 
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couroupita wrote:
Yeah seeing what you can afford is super depressing.

We went to a dinner party at my boss's house. Thought the place was a cute starter home. He lives in a <1000 Sq ft 2 bdr/2 ba house in menlo park built in the 40s. $1.4 million. Yeah. Is this real life?


Sounds like Toronto! Really small, non-renovated homes are selling for around $1 million. We've pretty much kissed the idea of home ownership good-bye. I'm not going to have a $100K down payment anytime soon.

But I love looking at houses for sale online so I love lurking in this thread.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:36 am 
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We are looking as well! Tonight we go see 2 places. I'm pretty sure neither one of them is "The One", but we're going for the sake of the exercise of seeing houses and getting a more clear picture of what's important to us.

Housing in Toronto is insane! One of the reasons we moved away, as much as we love the city itself.

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 Post subject: Re: House Shopping!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:43 am 
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Also: YES to the twitchy mess. I am an anxiety disordered mess at the very best, happiest times so this is really testing the limits of my sanity.

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