Decide what your needs, wants and likes are, and make a list. For example:
1500+ square feet
2+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms
separate dining room
hot water heat
Something like that. Then call a real estate agent and make an appointment. Go with your list, and be prepared to say "I do not like you. Please get me another agent from your office." Having properties that you like printed out is good also. Know where you want to be, price-wise. Mom and dad want to be under 180,000 total, with closing costs, because they've got 80k in savings and would only need to borrow 100k, which is pay-off-able in 10-15 years.
That's a good idea! I've never sat down and figured out what it is I'm looking for, I just knew what I liked/didn't like when I saw it. That's not very scientific of me. For that matter, that's not very organized of me.
I have sunk into another level of house depression, thinking about what $180,000 would get in Madison in the areas I'm looking at (and they're NOT ritzy neighborhoods, just average ones). At $180,000 you can expect to knock the house down and rebuild (and the new house is NOT included in the $180,000 cost) before living on the property. I'm figuring $250,000-$285,000 is about my range.
Edited at 2009-02-01 02:33 am (UTC)
2009-02-01 01:24 pm (UTC)
after you know what you are looking for...
How has the housing market in Madison dropped over the last year or two? Are places selling at all? If so, what is it taking to move them? Around us the houses that are moving have dropped prices more than 40-80K over a year; that's before an offer is made. Do not be afraid to look at foreclosures (often on the market for about 75% regular market value) or to offer around 20% less than asking price (used to be %10 but this is a different market; ask your agent what's been working over the past few months). Don't be afraid to challenge the house taxes if you buy for much less than taxable(check with the real estate agent on how this works for your area; it's been different in every state we've lived in. The only one we actually challenged what when they raised the taxable value 20K after we bought at 20-40K BELOW the old value... they couldn't figure that one out either).
yes, this. also, get recommendations from people you trust for agents. work with an agent you like and feel confident with. if you feel awkward, or the agent makes you feel foolish or inexperienced, s/he's not right. you're going to spend a lot of time with this person, make sure you'll enjoy the company.
expect the house shopping process to be way more exhausting than it seems it should be.
shop around for mortgages.
peruse the intarwebs for articles on home buying and financing. (i believe i have saved at least a few on delicious....)
shop around for mortgages.
Yes yes yes! And one picky detail to watch out for when shopping for mortgages is whether or not (and how and how often) they can sell you mortgage to another servicing company. With all the mortgage-backed derivitaves on the market, it's scary. I've seen some doomful articles about people getting stuck trying to adjust their mortgages, and finding it's been sold to not one but four different companies, and all four of them have to agree to any changes.
I got my mortgage through PHH via my USAA insurance, and they've been phenomenally wonderful. If you can get membership, DO. They answered all my questions as a skittish first-time buyer, patiently and not condescendingly. And they don't resell their mortgages. I thought it was kinda convenient, that I'd never mail my payment to the wrong place by mistake if it got resold. But with all the financial mess, I'm finding it's one of their biggest selling points.
Ummmmm, even PHH started reselling mortgages very very recently. It is still unlikely, but they now have a front page notice that they are reserving the right to resell the mortgage.
Oh phooey. Sic transit gloria money.
Jason says that step one is really look at your finances and see what you can afford, figure out the mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc. Step two is find a house that fits with number one (that you like). Step 2.5 if you want to get help from a realtor you can contact one but in the days of the Internet you can pretty much do it yourself. Step three is to find a flat fee attorney who will guide you through the process.
Edited at 2009-02-01 03:35 am (UTC)
The list of priorities idea is a good one.
I'd take a peek at fsbomadison.com - Eithni and I used that for home purchasing, and it worked out very well. Unless you have *very* specific location requirements, 200k should get you a nice house in most parts of Madison - not a mcmansion, but who'd want to live in one of those, anyway? Remember, also, that homes will almost always go for less than their listed asking price in this market - effectively, around 10% less.
A second approach that several of my friends have found helpful is to contract a buyer's agent for the initial home search - given the tight market, they should be highly motivated, and available. My friends semerkhet and shannongeek used a buyer's agent, and ended up paying a very reasonable price for a very nice house while the market was still booming - you, I imagine, would be in an even better position.
On a note unrelated to your house-hunting quandry, but related to the article...
Why is it that they're re-doing the section of University that needs it most because it literally sends cars airborne last!?! Really!? Two more winters of that road!?!
Ah, government. It must never make sense...
I recommend a buyers agent. We worked with Erin Bunbury Novak from Bunbury & Associates. She was awesome, and while she's younger than either of us, she works in a family business so we had her dad's experience to fall back on when necessary. I just did a fast search on their website
and hit some decent options -- $160k 3BR in the neighborhood behind Whole Foods?
Some folks are recommending a real estate lawyer and do-it-yourself realty. In retrospect, I would have gotten a realtor or some other sort of professional assistance.
FSBO is a good place to look - some will split the realtor costs with you, others are willing to work with a realtor as long as you pay the associated costs.
I'm not sure where you're looking, but $200,000 should buy a decent amount of house, even in Madison. I paid less than that for my house - 4BR, 2.75 bath, partially finished basement, 2 car garage, nice established neighborhood with real trees and an excellent elementary school, etc.
I lovelovelove househunting. I would be more than happy to go on househunting binges with you, once you get to that point. most open houses are Sunday noonish to fourish, so how about brunch and a drive some week?
That would be wonderful! I didn't know you loved it so much. I don't know if I will love it quite that much. And having someone else along to provide another pair of eyes and an opinion would be terrific (esp. since I REFUSE to bring my dad, like I did when I bought my first car).
Plus I never seem to go to brunch...so it sounds like fun all around!
I'll let you know when I feel like I'm ready to go out looking...as you can tell above, there's some work I need to do before I can even think of going out and talking to people about what I want, how much I'd like to spend, etc.
I do love it - it's a quirk I inherited from my mom. I'll sometimes go to open houses just because, even after buying my current place. :P
I actually had been going to open houses pretty regularly for about two years before I got into active home-buying mode. Most realtors are pretty good about being low-pressure but still let you see the house if you are honest and tell them that you are in the "research phase" and just getting a feel for what you want and the market. They'll drop you if another showing comes in, but you still get to see the house. I found that the "pre-looking" actually helped me decide what I was looking for and let me learn the lingo in a low-pressure setting.
I also bought and read "home-buying for dummies" (from the official X for Dummies series) and found it _very_ useful. I gave my copy away, though, so you'd need to borrow or buy your own copy.
Just let me know when you are free on a Sunday. If I am too, we haz date! :)
dig deep and look for first time homeowner programs and tax credits. There are lots of them but many Realtor and mortgage folks don't know about them.
We used a first time homeowner program here in Peoria when we bought. There is a new tax credit out right now and there were other tax credit programs before this one that might be still out there.
Also there maybe fix up money available. Look for neighborhood associations in the areas you are interested in. they often know about programs. We got fix-up money at 3% interest when we bought our house.
Look at the Realtor ads and see if there are any that highlight their experience with first time buyers.