Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Trepidation of a First Time Home Buyer

Ben and I began our home search in August.  In Boise, the housing market has crazy low prices.  It seems that 90% of homes are the market are either REOs (foreclosures) or Short Sales.  Combine these deals with low interest rates, and it seemed like perfect timing.

We started out with a budget of $60k, looking at townhouses and condos a little bigger than our current apartment.  As is often the case (if you watch House Hunters) our budget began to expand.  There were a few options in our range, but I began to worry about if there would be enough room for kids, location, etc.  After meeting with a loan officer, we found that we were approved for more - $150k.  Thus, our budget grew to $100k. 

Houses in this price range looked a lot better- now we could afford more locations, 1800 sf, and a small yard.  Then we met Charter Pointe- a way south Boise neighborhood with a little extra drive time, a community pool, and tons of foreclosures.  We found a 3100 sf home in need of some cosmetic repairs for $117k.  We took a few days to research this huge decision, looking at neighborhood comparison sales and talking to our parents.   We put together an offer of $107k, only to learn it sold the day before at $110k.

Armed with our new knowledge and ready to make a quick decision, we checked out some other Charter Pointe homes.  The first had a CRAZY floorplan- the front door opens to the kitchen (!?), which led to the dining nook and living room.  The master suite was also downstairs.  Upstairs, there was a HUGE living area, big enough to play basketball in, 3 bedrooms, and a laundry room.  The price was right- a foreclosure for 109k for 2700 sf, but we couldn't see beyond the wacky plan.
Next, we saw a home in Meridian that was in a cute neighborhood, no HOA fees, 3bd, 2 bath, 1750 sf for $119k.  It had granite everywhere, a garden in the backyard, and a really cool master suite.  Ben fell in love, but I was worried about the space.  We run two businesses- Sorella Bella and Parker Planners - which means a lot of inventory needs storing.  I hesitated, and the house went pending with three offers.

Mossywood Exterior

Mossywood Dining
We decided to look at a house called Mossywood in hopes it might drop in price.  Charter Pointe, 139k, 4 bd, 3 bath, 3555 sf.  The day before we went to see it, it dropped to 134k.  We instantly fell in love with the spacious interior- an exercise room, living/dining room, family room, huge walk-in pantry and large kitchen, and office downstairs.  Upstairs were 3 bedrooms, a large game room, and a master suite with His & Hers walk-in closets and a spa tub.  Ben kept saying "This is too nice for us."  I agreed- it was well above our original budget, and we certainly didn't need so much space in a first home.  After getting back to our apartment, though, we kept thinking about that house.  We crunched the numbers and realized that it was actually within range.  We  put an offer in the next day and it was accepted!  
Mossywood Game Room
The spacious kitchen and huge pantry (see the door on the right edge of the photo?) are the biggest selling points to me.

Mossywood's Small Back Yard
The one snag- it is a short sale!  The offer was accepted on September 15th and moved into the second stage October 28th.  Short sales can take up to 6 months to close, and we are struggling with patience.  As the months go by, I am beginning to doubt our decision.  Should we really take on such debt in this economy?  Am I settling with the cons of the home (cookie cutter builder neighborhood, no fireplace, blah kitchen, location, tiny backyard, no 3rd bay in garage, price is max of our budget meaning little left over for decor and personalization), when the perfect home is just around the corner?  

Fixer - North Acre
This weekend we are headed out on the house hunt again with our trusty realtor.  Steve  has put up with us viewing dozens of homes, often twice, as we learn what we like and to spot a good deal.  We are going to see two smaller fixer foreclosures with much lower price tags, and another Charter Pointe short sale (Steve- "Haven't you learned your lesson?").  

Most likely there is no perfect home on our tight budget- we will need to make concessions somewhere- size, location, condition.  But where?  Would I be happier in a smaller, perfect condition home in a mediocre location?  Or a large fixer in a good location?  Maybe a small fixer in a perfect location?  While I expected to learn a lot buying a house, I never knew how much I would be learning about myself!

I'd love to hear your experiences about buying your home, concessions and decisions, or have you found your dream place?


Melissa said...

Well I love to house hunt, but it is a frustrating task. Not for the faint of heart. :) It took us 6 months to find our house (its a foreclosure) We had bid on two other house and Thank GOD they were rejected. Now we are in the perfect home for the perfect price. :)

Charlene said...

Such a big decision and a big step, but also esciting as well. Congrats! We opted for a smaller in home in the ideal location. Our rationale was that we can always upgrade, add improvements... But location is fixed. Good luck!

Kate Pantier @ Mommy Monologues said...

My house hunting story sounds EXACTLY like MelissaLouise up top!

I didn't want to buy a house. But we found out we were pregnant and my husband refused to bring the baby home to an apartment. I had no problems with living in an apartment with a baby, my parents lived in rent houses until I was 9 and they had four kids at the time (now have 5.)

So, we started house hunting in October or November of 09. I told him there was no way that we were going to be able to afford a house. And everything we looked at just was not going to work. We were on a VERY tight budget and could not spend more than 150k (and I wanted to spend waaay less than but in our area there was nothing good for under 150.)

Fortunately, the money stuff started to look brighter after Jan of that year for several reasons. But, I still wasn't on board with it. But I went anyways and we found two houses that my husband loved. Both sold, one we made an offer at the same time someone else did and the other offer was accepted. And the second offer was rejected. I was so happy-those houses my husband loved I didn't really.

I felt like everything was blocked for a reason. It just meant that there was something else for us. It just wasn't working.

Then we got a call from our realtor that he had found a house. It was a foreclosure and had just come on the market. We went to look at it the day it listed and he was right it was perfect.

We put in the offer and it was accepted about a week later. And after that all the puzzle pieces went into place and it just was a smooth transition.

Do I have granite and hard wood floors? No. I have green formica in the kitchen. And I have carpet that my toddler is on his way to destroying. But it is a great house and we have company over all the time!

Our next projects though when this economy gets a little better-granite in the kitchen and those hardwood floors (and maybe some granite in the bathrooms too! My list goes on and on and on. HGTV junkie right here.)

I'm so sorry that this is such a long comment (more like a blog post) but for me there was nothing simple about house hunting. It was miserable and exciting all at the same time.

Good Luck! I look forward to hearing what y'all end up doing! Stopping by from blogfrog!

Kate Pantier @ Mommy Monologues said...

So I wrote this HUGE long comment and then when I hit publish the internet said it couldn't process the comment and I lost it!

Ack! Long story short, the home buying process for me was frustrating and exciting at the same time. But eventually, things started to work out and the puzzle pieces just fell into place and there was no forcing things. When we tried to force the situation, it never worked out.

We are now in a great house (the 3rd house we put an offer in-thank goodness the other houses were rejected!) and I love it. Green formica and all! lol Someday I will have granite and hardwood floors, but we have a great house and we entertain a lot.

Now we have a swingset, sandbox, slide along with a picnic table for the kiddo. It was the best thing for us even in the cruddy economy!

I'm stopping by from blogfrog and am a new follower! I hope that y'all figure all this out, I know it's frustrating!

Good Luck!

Kate Pantier @ Mommy Monologues said...

oh my gosh-my long comment ended up being published, so now this is my 3rd comment and you are going to think I'm insane! ah well such is life! :)

Kristina said...

Location, location, location! Houses can always be fixed up and made into what you want them to be over time. If you find the perfect house in the wrong neighborhood... well there is no way to move that house when you get tired of the imperfect neighborhood. Speaking from experience - when you have a bunch of little kids running around, you will want a nice big yard in a quiet neighborhood where there are little neighbor kids all around.

Jenny said...

Found you on Rachels Blog Hop! Love your blog! I'm your newest follower! :) http://www.aworldofcrafts.blogspot.com/

That being said, house shopping is fun and stressfull. It's the BIGGEST choice your going to make, but know this... very important... "Wherever your family is, the "home" feel will follow"...
Meaning there is no such thing as a perfect home, but fill it with family and then it's PERFECT! It took us a while last Nov. to find our home. We decided this statement held true. We needed to find a floor plan that was decent and then a price we could easily live with. You do not want to be house poor because you fell in love with a georgous house! Ya know? Why suffer? You'll be miserable in the end anyway. We were also aproved for $150 but don't let that fool you. They always approve high for people with good credit, this doesn't mean you should buy such an expensive home. It might actually be out of your budget. We settled on a $70,000 home. It is medium size and it was just a responsible choice. For it we have extra money and we are not stressed about bills so we are happier. And after we filled the house with our things and our family.... IT WAS PERFECT!!!!
Hope this makes sense.... LOL!

Teresa Choplin @ tchoplin2009(at)gmail(dot)com said...

Following you from the blog hop!
Love the information, you have here!
Please come check my blog out at http://www.nontypicalmom.com/

Have a great day!

Now on to your House Hunting situation. My only advice is to take your time, we just bought a house back in April, it is a fixer upper, but it has potential. Even now it is perfect, we can't afford to go in and totally redo it, but we work on small projects almost every weekend when we have time! Good Luck and can't wait to see what ya'll decide!

Kari said...

I've been through the home buying process twice.

My first house was a rush. I wanted a house big enough for me and one other roommate. So, I bought the biggest house I could afford. As it turns out, my husband hated that house and during our engagement, he bought a house.

Let me tell you something, both houses have been an absolute mistake. Neither house has been bought because we loved it. We bought them 1. out of necessity and 2. because we could afford them. Our current house was a repo, so it was cheap and needed a lot of work.

Our next house will have 1 absolute requirement--that we love it. And by love I mean it'll be the house that we'll have been dreaming about.

Budget is incredibly important, location is incredibly important, but if you're having second thoughts about a house, get out now. Chances are you'll regret the decision later on. If you can avoid that, do!!

Rachel R. said...

I agree with the above comments that house shopping is exciting but also incredibly stressful! Thanks for linking up at the new Relax & Make Friends Wednesday Blog Hop!

Kara M. said...

I would say location is important, but deciding on what you want is priority in my mind. I knew I wanted a nice kitchen, a three car garage, and a nice yard. I know I"m no help, but I'm a huge advocate of the house "feeling like the one". There were other houses that were nice, and certain things I liked about them, but I guess I was lucky and Scott and I both knew our house was the one for us. Sure there are things now that I don't love, but I am still incredibly happy!

Laura Lofgreen said...

Congratulations, Candace. You won the personalized photo Christmas cards on the My Dear Trash give-away. Email me at mydeartrash@gmail.com and I'll get all your contact information. Take care and I love your blog. Very cute.

Unknown said...

Here from the bloghop.
I follow you on GFC. I'd love for you to follow me back
Tiffypoot @ (aol.com)

Hanna said...

Hi there! I am your newest follower from the blog hop! LOVELY blog:) You can find me at www.bouffeebambini.blogspot.com
Take a peek at my giveaways when you come by. I have 7 going on now and everything is handmade and GORGEOUS:) Happy Holidays!!

Heather (The Menu Mama) said...

Hi Candace! Thanks for following my blog and for the sweet comment! I am having fun checking out your blog, and I just wanted to say how exciting that you are in the house hunting process! We have been renting since we were married in 2007 but we are dreaming of someday soon buying a house! We just want to make sure we are going to be living long-term wherever we buy. It seems like a great time to buy a house, I am looking forward to following your journey!

makati apartments for rent said...

I know that for a first-time house buyer, it is often the case of "love at first sight". Here's a tip to remember: avoid rushing when you are a newbie. Before you whip out that checkbook, figure out if you have enough funds to put together for the downpayment and closing costs of your new home. This will help you avoid being disappointed should the price be more than what you expected.

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