Saturday, February 18, 2012

House Hunting

My husband and I are currently house hunting. And by currently I mean we started last October. And by house hunting I mean torturing ourselves every weekend and usually just coming home with a ginormous headache. Who knew it would be this difficult to find the home of our dreams. Or maybe we are just too picky?

Now I realize that there are much bigger problems in the world then not being to find the perfect home. But being this is my blog, I get to complain about my first world problem.

Like I said, we started this hunt back in October, and we've seen more loser homes then we have winners. We decided that buying was more within our budget then building a home. We got pre-qualified, found the price range we believe we can afford, and started searching on internet sites (trulia, realtor, and zillow to be exact). We are lucky that in that my family business does not only insurance but also sells real estate, so our agent is my father. That means no pressure to buy and guidance that is truly looking out for our best interest, not just making the sale on his end. Plus a lot of laughs.

Some of these homes have been so skeevy I felt like I needed shower after walking out. One home we loved the lot it was on as it was a cul-de-sac, but that's where it ended. All you had to do was walk in the home to feel dirty. The rugs were stained and worn. The linoleum was yellowed and rolling up. There were holes in the walls and light fixtures ripped out of sockets. The entire interior needed to be gutted and re-built. Another home had shit on the wall. Literally, there were feces on the bedroom wall. Whether it was human or animal we didn't stick around to see, but it was disgusting.

And to make matters worse it's not like we are looking in sub-standard areas. These are in gorgeous neighborhoods with great schools in the area. Two stories houses with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and full basements. Which leads to the question is this really how people live? Or is this the state of the economy? People know they will be losing their house so they trash the place, knowing the bank will never get the money they invested  because it's in such deplorable condition? It's really quite remarkable (and disturbing).

And the taxes. New Jersey is just out of control. I mean the mortgage payment is going to be less then what we are currently paying in rent, but the taxes will be like making a second mortgage payment a month. Like I said, it's not like we're looking at $500,000 dollar homes. These are middle class homes with $7-$8,000 taxes a year and this is just the taxes to start. That means they can only go up from here, which is terrifying. I'll need a second job just to pay for my taxes.

Then there are short sales. A lot of nice homes we look at are short sales and I'm doinng my research. But the conclusions I'm drawing is that it is a nightmare. It can take 6 months or longer to even get into the home because the bank needs to do enough research on you to make the CIA proud. Then they'll still want your blood type, kidney, and first born child. To make matters worse is you can put all this effort into the home and still not get it if the former owners are become more financially secure. Of all the good stories I've heard (one, to be exact), there are 10 horror stories. Which has us questioning if it is even worth it to get involved in. But with so many houses on the market currently in short sale status, they are pretty difficult to avoid.

Speaking of doing research online, I have to complain about the digital age. Here we are in an age of technology that is so immediate that information can be updated in seconds. I have seen homes updated on these sites with price reductions, but when we call for a showing they say it's already under contract. I'm sorry, let me get this straight. You updated the website to say that the home price was reduced by $10,000 but not to change the status from active to under contract? That obviously makes perfect sense.

But the cherry on top has to be the frustrating aspect of obtaining a mortgage. We only got pre-qualified and they still wanted our tax records and paycheck stubs. We've already been informed that they'll then need our bank statements to see our income and spending monthly. We'll need to justify any loans we have and how they are being paid (aka student or car loans). The few as always have managed to ruined it for the many. I feel like I'm in grade school again. The teacher can't figure out who wrote the bad word on the chalk board, so the whole class gets punished. Banks made bad investment decisions and  many people were given mortgage loans they truly couldn't afford all because the banks wanted to make quick money. Now because these people defaulted on their loans, we are being scrutinized. Here my husband and I are, responsible adults waiting to purchase a home until we had a down payment and knew we could afford it, and we have to be put under a microscope to be sure we won't default. So because we were smart and responsible, we are being penalized. Because the banks made bad decisions, we are punished with a monthly mortgage insurance if we don't put 20% down. Got to love Big Brother.

So tonight hubby and I sat at dinner, talked about the couple homes we will see tomorrow morning, and wondered if we will find one we want to make an offer on, or just find more shit.

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