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Mama Deb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]

My landlady just had the house appraised.

I work in a real estate office. I know what that probably means (probably because she could also be doing it for insurance or tax reasons).

If she's thinking of selling, we have to start thinking of buying something. Not this house, unless it's in our price range (although wouldn't that be nice? She has a gorgeous kitchen.) but a house or a condominium. But buying because I'm tired of living at the whim of someone else. We've been thinking along those lines anyway. And our lease is up in September. Which might be enough time.

So. What would be the first step?


Five months is a lot of time to find a house.

IIRC, I did it in more like three weeks. I admit, I had a really good realtor (Realtor Bob - recommendations enthusiastically offered for anyone buying in South Minneapolis or nearby suburbs!), and I wasn't really picky.

First - what everyone else has said.

Second - make a list of what you want in a house. Split it into three categories:

1) Must Have
2) Would be nice
3) Only in our dreams

I wanted three bedrooms, a certain size of main floor / entertaining space, main floor and sleeping floor bathrooms, hardwood floors, and central A/C or a heating plant that easily supported central A/C (because I was also going to be adding the anti-plant allergens filter). That was my Must Have list.

When I started looking at houses, I bounced back and forth between 2 and 3 bedrooms - I ended up going with 3, which was too big, but I knew it was, and why it was, and that was good. When I got married 4 years later, it was a very good thing - that 3rd bedroom was "her" space, to do with as she wished.

I would have like a fireplace, but that was about a 2.5 wish - somewhere above would be nice, but not quite in my dreams.

Short form - get pre-approved, decide how much you are willing to spend - are you willing to be house-payment poor?, and get the best possible realtor.

Five months is a lot of time to find a house.

As a data point: When Dani and I bought our house we started looking in late April, had a signed sales agreement sometime in June, and closed in August. Even with Sundays being the only practical days to see places, we were generally able to see 5 or 6 in an afternoon so it only took a month or so to run through everything on the market that met our minimum requirements.

Going from house to house can be hard if the ability to buy the one is contingent on your selling the other. But that's not your situation. (I owned a house when Dani and I went looking, but the mortgage companies were so forthcoming with offers to lend outrageous amounts of money that I was able to say to them "ok, the delta between what we're willing to spend and what you're willing to lend is three times the outstanding balance on my current mortgage -- so how 'bout you remove that contingency clause?". Of course, this is Pittsburgh.