Buying A House....Tips???

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Old 04-29-2011, 09:14 PM
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Buying a house....Tips???

I am looking into buying a home and SCARED! I moved out my parents about 1.5 yrs ago (I wanted to wait until I was done with my BA). I personally feel like aprts are a waste of money...especially because rent in MA is usually crazy high and your mortage would be about the same. I feel the more I read the more scared about home buying I become. Does anyone have tips, suggestions, calming words....anything?!?!
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Old 04-29-2011, 09:39 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Why are you scared? I personally feel renting is a waste of money too. The most important thing about buying a home that is most important is the LOCATION. First figure out where you want to live. If you do not have a family (hubby and kids) may want to consider a townhouse or condo.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:26 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Maybe scared is a bad term, and it is more the feeling of being overwhelmed.

I don't have kids yet, but I do feel a want a house and not a condo or townhouse. I have seen a few houses I really like but the areas, were crappy.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:29 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Like i said LOCATION is very important when looking for a house. Maybe try to find a realtor you feel comfortable with. Make some calls. Buying a house is overwhelming but not to bad after you find the right one.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:33 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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The worst house on the block can always he renovated, the best house in the hood can always be ransacked. start small in a nice area if it's in a desirable spot you know you'll be able to sell it if you ever outgrow it (try tostay away from 1br homes, they take a WHILE to turn over)
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:34 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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When we got our 15 year mortgage we had the option to a 20 year mortgage and the payments where only $100 difference so we got the 15 year mortgage.

Make sure you don't choose a place w/alley, ditch or some other water drainage area, our insurance went up $200 a year because FEMA declared it was a flood plane, it's a concrete alley that drains the water to the canal almost a mile a way.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:39 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Completely understand your feelings. It is a big "grown-up" step. If you are looking at condos or townhouses, remember that there is a monthly fee for those in addition to your mortgage. Ask friends or family who their Realtor is. If they are happy, call them. The best ones get most of their business from referrals. FYI>>>The realtor can not tell you what a good area is. It is "steering" and against the law, so drive around and ask friends. I would drive by in the evenings and see what is going on ie., beer drinking in the front yards, loud music teenagers out and about etc. Not that those will all bother you but it is nice to know if you have to be at work at 6AM that the neighborhood basketball house is nextdoor to the house you want and they play til midnight.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:40 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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I know real estate is all local, but housing prices are still falling and if interest raise go up, they will fall some more. Do a lot of research on prices in your area. Don't ask the realtors. Do independent research, you could start with Case Shiller, some housing blogs, etc. Even though rents are high, loss of equity can be much greater. Also, you have more freedom to relocate for a job if you do not own. Good luck.
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Old 04-30-2011, 11:22 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Like others have said - location is a big one. Do research on the area and see about flooding and those kinds of things. I agree that a house can always be renovated - but renovation take money and usually lots of it. Try and make sure that the structure of the house is good! Sometimes houses look beautiful but the structure isn't great and so more problems for you in the future. Don't settle! House hunting is fun, crazy, scary, and a whole lot more. Don't skimp on inspection and stuff like that - make sure it's someone good and not someone that the people selling the house chose (it does happen). People know people and will work with each other to get a house sold even if it means lying or whatever - so just make sure you do your homework and good luck! If you can afford a bigger house - I'd go for it. You may not need all the space now, but you may in the future and you never know where you will be then or the market for that matter. Get what you can afford and don't completely overextend yourself. If they approve you for a $250,000 loan DO NOT buy a house for $250,000!!!!
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Old 04-30-2011, 11:36 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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as mentioned above, location, location and location cannot be overemphasized. in our experience, location also depends on one's families needs. For us, a good location is 5 to 10 minute drive to stores, schools and other amenities. When you own your home, you have to factor in property taxes and if you're in an area where they're so high, weigh things carefully if it is a good investment to rent or buy a home. There are places where home values are way overpriced compared to the same type/built in other states. Add to that, the property taxes to be paid, some people cannot afford their homes anymore.

I know it is overwhelming to buy your first home but it all worth it. If you're planning to have a family sooner or later and have kids, buying a house would be a good choice compared to condo or townhouse.

whatever you decide, I hope you find the home you like and see yourself living in it for a long time
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Old 04-30-2011, 11:44 AM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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One of the best things my hubby and I did was signed up with Nationwide Bi-Weekly. They automatically withdraw the mortgage payment from our bank account. We have it set up to take out so much each week so we don't have to try and save it all up to pay at one time. Also, it shaves about 10 years off our mortgage.
Oh, and make sure that you won't have any issues getting insurance for your new home! Around here no one will give you insurance if you are more than 5 miles from a fire dept. We had a heck of a time trying to find insurance since our house is way out in the country. If you buy a house in town though, you prolly won't have as hard a time.
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Old 04-30-2011, 12:27 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Another tip regarding location, you want to find your house in a good school district and good school because it makes your house more valuable when you sell. Check the state websites regarding test scores to see where the schools in your area rank. I would also suggest to try to live off the budget your estimated mortgage is going to be so that you know what your lifestyle would be like. Also you wanted to have a small emergency fund in case of emergency home repairs. I would also visited some open houses in your price range and start making a list of importance to you. I made a list of must haves: location, quiet neighborhood not near a highway or busy street, decent storage, decent roof, plumbing, electrical and no foundation problems. I got a few books on the library on home buying and made my list from that. I wanted to be flexible when looking at a house but it had to meet the basic must haves since I was a new homeowner and didn't want to do a major overhaul. We found a foreclosed house that needed minor work and we love it. Good luck!
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:29 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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dont forget to consider taxes and all that fun stuff when you decide how much you can pay because just the loan on the house isn't the only money going out because of it there are taxes and insurance and that can bump up your payments so make sure your eyes aren't bigger then your budget.

Also don't buy a house you can ....just afford... make sure you have some wiggle room to put money away or if things at work turn south your not stuck with a house payment you are no where near able to clear. Just because the bank tells you you can afford a loan for X amount don't believe them figure it out for your self. Our loan was cleared for over a 100k more then we bought our house for but we knew that we didn't want to be paying out that much even though thats what we qualified for.

Oh and one more thing realtors work on commission so if you tell them you can afford A - D$ they will try and show you the more expensive houses so they get a bigger commission so i would fudge your numbers down a little when you tell them your price range because sure as heck the houses they show you will be at the high end of that range if not just over it seemed like every house our realtor showed us was at the highest point we wanted to pay i ended up finding our house for 20k below our max and we went from there.
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:38 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Definitely LOCATION. I wouldn't want a nice house in a crappy area or a nice area too far away from everything like the suburbs. Right now is not a bad time to buy a house with low interest rates and low prices. If you can put a down payment (10%-20%) that would help you out a lot.
The biggest thing is don't rush.
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:42 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Originally Posted by jenjenholley View Post
Also don't buy a house you can ....just afford... make sure you have some wiggle room to put money away or if things at work turn south your not stuck with a house payment you are no where near able to clear. Just because the bank tells you you can afford a loan for X amount don't believe them figure it out for your self. Our loan was cleared for over a 100k more then we bought our house for but we knew that we didn't want to be paying out that much even though thats what we qualified for.
Aside from location, this is the one thing I keep hearing over and over. I certianly would not got to what the max of "approval" would be. Luckily, for this rental we have been dealing with a realtor. He is very nice and I am comfortable with him so I will probably go with him....not 100% sure though.

Thank you everyone for you advice. I am defintely going to educate myself on everything and not jump into anything.
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:43 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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It is a big "grown-up" step!..... so think twice before you decide. Personally, I am not buying since I might move back to Europe and live there!
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:50 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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I see your location is in MA, I don't know the property tax climate there. I have read about high property taxes in NJ and IL but have no idea on what it is like in MA. Keep in mind that as homeowner, you have to reckon with that aside from your mortgage, home insurance premiums and maintenance of your property so it retains it's value whether you plan to sell it later or you just want to keep it in good shape. I remember someone told me in the past that there are areas where it is best to rent than own because of the property taxes they pay.

It will help you a lot to write it down on paper so you'll see the complete picture and see what else you're possibly missing. You cannot over prepare on this kind of endeavor. The more information you have, the higher chances for you to come up with a well informed choice you will be happy with.

Good luck!
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:59 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Lots of good ideas on here.

I don't know much about MA, but besides property, municipal and school taxes, try to find out how your sewer and water bill with be rated. Find out if your garbage pickup is part of your taxes or if you pay separately. Our town here in NJ its included. Next town over, less than 2 miles, its not included and they pay their own.

Will you have to pay silly taxes like in PA where they pay a moving tax and a fire hydrant tax, etc?

Also make sure you have a nice emergency fund in case an unexpected expense comes up.

Get a really good inspector. Its worth the money if they are good and know what they are doing.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:02 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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One other thing. I personally would get a 30 year mortage for my first house. You can always pay more each month on your own each month, and turn it into a 15 year loan on your own. However if you do lose your job, take time off for other reasons, you still have the option of the lower payment. I nothing comes up, just pay extra each month and it becomes a 15 year easily.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:07 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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I used to think that the biweekly mortgages were best, until a friend of our has their house foreclosed on because they missed 3 payments. Yes, they missed three payments, but that was only 1.5 months behind when a monthly mortgage is 3 months behind at the time they proceed with foreclosure. You may be better off to do this type of payment practice on your own by starting out by paying a month in advance (not to principal) and then every two weeks put money into an account that is equivalent to 1/2 of your mortgage payment. Also I would suggest before purchasing a home, make sure you have a nice sized down payment. If you don't have 20% downpayment, you need to purchase PMI (private mortage insurance) which definitely adds up over time. There are some lending institutions where you can get two separate mortgages at once, one for 80% of the mortgage amount (and that's at one interest rate) and then the remainder of the loan at a slightly higher interest rate. That would prevent you from having to pay for PMI and the higher interest rate on the additional loan amount is less than the amount you would have had to pay for PMI.
Always have a home inspection before buying the property so you know what repairs can be detected down the road.
Know the school district you are going to buy in. Are their buildings up to date, have they recent built new buildings or are they going to need renovations - if they already did the building and the renovations, the taxes may be higher now, but you know they won't need to raise them significantly in the short term future for those repairs. How does the school district compare against others in your county/parrish. What is their graduation rate (these may not be important to you because you don't have children but will be important when you go to sell)
You should have 3 months worth of living expenses saved (minimum) besides what your downpayment would be before considering purchasing a home.
Speak with a tax professional to make sure that the tax benefits would be worthwhile to you to have a mortgage (it generally is because it gives you the deductions that most of us need)
How is the house heated? How new are the windows? How new is the roof and what type of roof is it (what is the average lifespan of that type of roof and what is the price to repair and/or replace it). What about appliances? How about the price of water in your area? (this is really an issue in our county right now-less than a 15 min drive from me their water is about 10x the price of everyone elses because the water company is privately owned). Do you pay for garbage (some places call it a sewer/rubbish bill) pickup? Is there a "priviledge tax" to live/pay there that is above and beyond your property taxes? Must you pay to join the ambulance/EMS service in your area? What is the crime rate and what types of crime are committed? Do you have "community rules" (the town over from us does not allow fencing above 3 feet in your front yard and it can not be privacy fencing).

Once you find an area where you think you would like to live, check either your State Police or National Sex Offender Registry - Family Watchdog to look at the current list of registered sex offenders.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:10 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Also check out how owning the home will affect your car insurance. Usually if you have your homeowners insurance and car insurance with same company, you get a lower rate, but check that your car insurance will not increase based on where you are looking to live.


Also make sure you have your own realtor and that the property that you are looking to buy is not being listed by that person. Realtors don't like to share commissions (which is what happens when you have a selling realtor and a buyers realtor) but your realtor should have your best interest in mind at all times and if they are representing the buyer and seller IMO that is a conflict of interest.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:12 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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Originally Posted by scamelo View Post
Lots of good ideas on here.

I don't know much about MA, but besides property, municipal and school taxes, try to find out how your sewer and water bill with be rated. Find out if your garbage pickup is part of your taxes or if you pay separately. Our town here in NJ its included. Next town over, less than 2 miles, its not included and they pay their own.

Will you have to pay silly taxes like in PA where they pay a moving tax and a fire hydrant tax, etc?

Also make sure you have a nice emergency fund in case an unexpected expense comes up.

Get a really good inspector. Its worth the money if they are good and know what they are doing.

We were thinking of the same things at the same time. I live in PA, but am fortunate we don't have too many crazy bills where I live, but there are some "nuisance" taxes that we pay yearly and we pay per person in the home, not per house.
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Old 04-30-2011, 05:56 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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I'd like to chime in on the inspector thing. No matter how nice and honest your realtor is, don't go with any that he or she recommends. We were dumb enough to do that, and ended up with a house that is close to being a lemon. Luckily it was a cheap house, so we can fix the issues down the road.

Also, determine if you want a fixer upper or a house that is ready to move in. And assume that unless you have a good sized budget, fixing up can take a LOT of time. (not to mention money)
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Old 04-30-2011, 06:28 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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I skimmed the comments so forgive me if these were mentioned.

Choose an inspector who doesnt live close if at all possible, maybe an hour away or something, that way they are not friends with the realtor or the bank .. You will get a much more accurate inspection this way. My 19 year old daughter just bought her first house in July.. Very proud parent moment. She bought a bank repo, put in her offer, it was accepted had it inspected, foundation had shifted because of a big oak tree planted YEEARRS ago in the city. She re-offered for the foundation fix, the tree removal and grounding of the wiring.. the bank accepted they did the repairs!!!

2nd.. any houses you look at, if they are foreclosed make sure the water is turned on for your viewing, flush all toilets, turn on all faucets including bathroom and tub, check the shower pressure etc..

If it has a basement, check the foundation walls to see if they feel damp at all or any water in the corners or stained cement, meaning maybe it has dried several times over and over again.

Flip on light switches, open closet doors, make sure cupboards close, room doors stay where you put them open or do they sway back shut. (all depending on that fix up or move in type house)

Most of all good luck to you!!!!! I wish you the best, this is a very big step in life not to mention a very proud one!!! Good for you on finishing your degree.

edited to add: I high recommend having your taxes and house insurance combined right into your pmt for Escrow.
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Old 04-30-2011, 07:33 PM

RE: Buying a house....Tips???

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One thing you might want to do if you find a house you are interested in is to visit the house during all hours of the day. Neighborhoods are usually very different during the evening and night hours than the daytime hours which is when you are usually house hunting. I had a friend buy a house only to realize that a lot of shady business happened in the neighborhood after dark and it took her forever to sell! Good luck!
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