March 18, 2011

We're House Shopping

Last Fall I was first Thinking About Buying a Foreclosure as Investment but then we scrapped that idea and instead started Looking at Buying a House for ourselves.  We continued to look at houses online for a while after that through the winder.   Then last month we found a house listed that looked really nice so I called up our Realtor and we went and saw the house.   The house was indeed pretty nice but it had an offer already and was snatched up.    We weren't ready to put in an offer much less get in a bidding war.

Since then we've looked at over a dozen houses.    We've been looking at 2-3 houses each week usually on the weekend.    As we look at more houses we get a better idea of what we like and what is out there.  

Finances

Initially we started with a budget in the $350,000 to $400,000 range.  Now our budget is up to $450,000.   I got pre-qualified for a loan but we're not yet pre-approved.   We do plan to get pre-approved but just haven't gotten around to doing so yet.   We have a lot of documents to gather and I need to get some things from my father about the rentals we jointly own with him.

Key things we've learned in our search so far :

1. We don't like bedrooms that are smaller than 10' x 10'.   It seems rooms smaller then that are just 'too small' for our tastes.   9' x 10' is too small.   10' x 11' is OK.  
2. The right yard is hard to find.  Finding a newer house with a good size yard in our area is hard.  Most of the newer houses around here are built on small lots.  At least the homes in our price range.      If we look at older houses then we could get a bigger yard, but then you're dealing with out of date interior, awkward floor plans etc.
3. Some houses we've looked at were adjacent to major streets.  We've decided against these houses due to the amount of noise you get from the traffic.
4. We've also decided against homes that back to major electrical power lines.


The things we want :
Our basic 'wants' list in rough priority order are : 
1. More room,  2. Better School district. 3. Key amenities, 4. Nice yard, 5. Good neighborhood, 6. Upgraded interior, 7 Closer to city / not too far from work.

1 & 7. We're only looking at houses of a certain size and in a particular area, so that narrows the search to homes that give us more room and are closer to the city.   Being closer to the city is not really a priority its more of a nice side benefit of the better school district.  But I'd prefer not to be too far from work, so theres a balance between those two.


2. The school district can be a little tricky.   We're  probably over analyzing this but we've looked at the test scores for the local schools and we really want to stick to the very best schools.   If we're going to move and spend tons of money on a new house then we don't want to settle for 2nd best schools.  


3, 4, 5 & 6 : All these items fall into finding the right combination of home for the price.   We can usually find 3 of the 4, but most every home we've looked is lacking something.



Here's the quick history of the houses we've looked at so far :

#1 nice but it sold
#2 We liked the look and floor plan.  Bad : smallish, not great neighborhood
#3 Very big house that had a pool.  Bad : busy street behind it
#4 Generally OK house,   Bad: busy road, small yard
#5 Again decent house,   Bad : tiny tiny yard, looked ok in picture but in person it was like 8' x 10'
#6 OK but Bad : backed to road
#7 Very nice house recently remodelled in good neighborhood.  Bad : slightly small and sold quickly
decided to increase prices
#8  My wife loved the way this house looked in the pictures.  It was large and looked awesome.  Bad  on a bad road, the interior finishes were not nearly as nice as pictures seemed.  That really disappointed my wife.
#9 Great house.  Bad : No backyard
#10 Generally OK house for a good price : Bad : smallish yard, needed work, short sale, had an offer in
#11 Good house.  Bad : incorrect school, bit overpriced
#12 Generally nice house in good neighborhood.  Bad : smallish, busy road
#13 Nice new construction house.   Bad : yard was too small
#14 Good size house in good neighborhood.  Bad : over priced and a little worn and dated

1 comment:

  1. Good luck in your house search; I hope it goes better than ours. We spent more than three years looking for a particular house, but it never came on the market. In the end, we chose the neighborhood and bought a house that needed some work. For what we're spending on the remodel, turns out we would have been better off raising our house shopping budget quite a bit.

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