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February 17, 2014

We’re at stage 0 of home buying, and I’m already overwhelmed.

We have approximately 20 neighborhoods we are considering, and we are looking for everything from a duplex (rent out half) to a small condo.  I have no idea the lay of the school landscape.  I have no idea what our budget should be.  OK, that’s not true, but the numbers I’m seeing scare me, a lot.  Is it a bubble?  Will prices fall or rise?  Should we get a sofa that we could use today, or save the money for a house?  But where will our guests sit?  I don’t like this neighborhood much, should we move, or stick it out in wait of a house?

I don’t even know the PROCESS we are going to use to decide where, when, and what to buy.  I think that is what is driving me most nuts.  How do people handle this?

I hope to write a new post with more budget-y information in it (not house related), but since it is equally likely I’ll run out of time / not make it a priority, I thought I’d throw out my home buying anxiety and see if anyone has any tips of how to get from step 0 to step 1.  (Our timeline is likely at least a year.)

14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2014 7:05 pm

    I hear your stress loud and clear. I’m just looking for apartments now and I’m freaking out. (We stopped by a few condo open houses just to get an idea of what’s out there, and because Mr. HECC’s mom might want to buy a place for us to rent from her.) It will be exciting to follow your adventure in buying a house. Condos seem troubling given that the HOA could go crazy, but around here it’s pretty much impossible to afford a Duplex or House. What is the average cost of a house by you?

    • February 20, 2014 7:46 am

      I don’t know the average, but right now I’m casually looking at houses below $750k to see what is out there. Which is, by the way, insanity. At that price point, pickings are slim. There are some small houses in OK neighborhoods, and a fair amount of condos in (likely undesirable parts of) the city itself.

  2. oil_garlic permalink
    February 18, 2014 8:54 am

    I never bought a house, though we came close a few times. I think signing up for zillow or similar websites/apps will help you get a better idea of selling/asking prices for houses in your desired neighborhoods. I believe there is a zillow app that is very useful when you’re driving around from open house to open house, and also useful if you come across a nice area and want to see if houses are available nearby. Finally, when you’re really ready, a good realtor should be able to guide you through the process. Good luck!

  3. February 19, 2014 9:26 am

    Have you met with a realtor yet? That would be my suggestion for Step #1 🙂 My husband and I were at Step 0 for awhile, casually looking at places for about a year before we finally got serious and met with a realtor. I’m really glad we met with one because he was able to take the confusion out of the whole home-buying process and he was able to tell us about market trends based on his experience. If you find a good realtor, then he/she should be able to help narrow things down and help you focus. Good luck!

    • February 20, 2014 7:52 am

      No, we aren’t really looking to start seriously looking for almost a year. Is it too early?

      • February 20, 2014 9:41 am

        Oh then I wouldn’t rush into meeting with a realtor yet. Get your down payment in place first, then meet with a realtor. But don’t worry about all the forms, legal stuff, inspections, etc that goes into buying a house because a good realtor will walk you through that.

        I would recommend looking at if you want to browse listings. I really like the layout and it seems to cover everything that is on the mls.

  4. February 19, 2014 10:36 pm

    It is definitely overwhelming! Looking for places was totally my hobby for months. I think the most important part for me was distinguishing between nice places and places I would want to live in. Before you send too much time looking or figuring out price ranges, figure out, life-wise, what kind of real estate you want to live in for the next 5-10 years. Also, do you want to buy a house before your husband gets tenure or wait until after? (I think nicoleandmaggie had a post on that at some point.) Also the timing of planning to have children and how many matters a lot too. Have you run the buy vs rent calculator from the new York times? The hardest part is definitely figuring out what you want, especially if it takes months to find it – hang in there! 🙂

    • February 20, 2014 7:52 am

      Tenure takes ~7 years, and I guess I’m just assuming he’ll get it (although slight thoughts towards contingency plans).

      That said, we probably won’t get serious about looking until next year. I have looked at rent vs. buy, and basically, buying never makes sense. Except, we wouldn’t actually pay this rent indefinitely. With a realistic rent jump in case of a family, it does eventually pay off to buy. Purely financially, it may be a wash. I’m OK with that, although it is scary!

      • February 20, 2014 9:00 am

        Oh if tenure takes ~7 years, then it’s not so crazy to buy now! Someone above mentioned finding a realtor…I personally don’t like realtors at all. Redfin was pretty cool. And they ARE a real brokerage, just different from traditional ones.

        Some people I know stay in an apartment until they have kids and buy a house once they are pregnant / would otherwise move to higher rent, to make that more of a sound financial decision. It seems like it would be nice to settle into a house before having kids though…

        • February 22, 2014 9:23 pm

          I don’t like the idea of a realtor – I’m very much DIY in most areas, mostly because I don’t trust anyone else to provide me with ALL the information I need to make a decision based on my priorities.

          So, you didn’t use one at all?

          • February 24, 2014 9:33 am

            Well I did initially and that went absolutely terribly. With the level of research I did on my own, it seemed a waste of money for the realtor to earn so much from the sale too. I loved working with Redfin! It was pretty easy.

  5. February 20, 2014 12:21 pm

    I’ve been idly browsing Trulia for months and it’s both depressing and stressy seeing those prices. I just don’t see it happening any time in the next year, even with the cash we do have. Maybe we’ll be right behind you 🙂

    • February 22, 2014 9:23 pm

      Or right ahead! 🙂 We’re still browsing too… Good thing redfin doesn’t have a “buy it now!” button though. 🙂

  6. March 5, 2014 10:00 am

    My friends in Mountain View who have been there since 2000 say that the current market where they are looks like a bubble. But 750K would be unheard of (very low) for houses in their area, so that may be a different market.

    In general, even though this isn’t what we did, I’d recommend waiting and see what you like and don’t like and get a better feel for neighborhoods. We didn’t do that (we bought our house in 3 days several months before moving to town), but our house was only 265K, and we were in a buyers market. There were a lot of good places to choose from and the downside to a bad choice was limited to ~265K! If we ever move to the SF bay area we’re probably going to wait a bit because the choice is so much more important.

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