If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might recall that not so long ago I had no interest in purchasing property. I saw it as a major hassle and an unnecessary expense. I could only afford a condo, not a house, and even that was highly questionable. I also thought that being self-employed and working from home would be mutually exclusive (I was still a W2 employee at the time). I also liked the apartment I was renting.
Quite a few things have changed since then. The real estate bubble has burst. I've seen home prices decline by as much as 40% in my area and they keep going down. I moved to a new apartment last year that has turned out to be a nightmare. I've had building maintenance break into my apartment twice, a building-wide roach infestation has developed, my rent gets increased every three months, the landlord schedules excessively frequent "maintenance" visits to my unit, and the building-wide fire alarm goes off randomly at times such as midnight and 5 a.m. (Yes, I should probably get a lawyer, but I'd rather not add another element of stress to my life and just get out of here instead.) I've made the switch to self-employment and found that I can make more than I thought. I've majorly broadened the areas I'm willing to live in. I've absolutely ruled out living in a condo, townhouse, or anything else with a homeowners association. And all the hassles involved in finding an agent and getting a mortgage suddenly seem worth it.
I'm already finding that it's one thing to write about the steps involved in purchasing a home and quite another to actually undertake those tasks. It's also one thing to write about remaining rational and leaving your emotions out of the process and another thing to successfully do it. I've written quite a few articles on home ownership as I've researched the process over the last 18 months or so. What I'm starting to learn though now that I've moved beyond reading books and visiting open houses is that there is a great deal of intricacy involved in the process that personal finance articles don't really talk about. Agents aren't always interested in working with you. Mortgages don't always give you the option of paying points so much as they require you to pay them. You can't always just walk into a bank and talk to someone about home loans. Fannie Mae doesn't update some parts of their website regularly. The mortgage lender you were going to visit the following day suddenly goes under.
So over the next few weeks or months, however long this process takes me, I will be writing about the nitpicky details of shopping for and purchasing a house with the hopes that sharing my experience will help my renting readers have a better idea what to expect when it's their turn. I also hope that those of you who have already been through the process will share your experiences in the comments.
Photo by roarofthefour
Why I Decided Not to Buy . . . At Least For Now
What is a home inspection and do you really need one?
Housing and Net Worth
Understanding Closing Costs
Why You Should Use A Buyer's Agent