One Week, Four Cities, One Darn Good Time

The work travel is beyond belief this month, with a week in New Orleans, two days in DC, and a transfer in Atlanta already under my belt in the last 15  days. BC managed to join me for the New Orleans revelry for the entire week, so after long conference days, I dragged myself out into the Quarter for food and cocktails and long walks where we laughed until I had stomach cramps.

Now that I’m back to the real world and trying to plan out 2010 and beyond, it’s time to start a house hunt in earnest. If BC and I are baby-bound, this mama needs a non-rented roof to put over my head with a little yard and room for a washer/dryer. I love my current townhouse, but I’ll be damned if I’ll semi-single parent and have to walk six blocks to do the baby’s laundry. A girl has her limits.

Which begs the question… how the heck do you go about buying a house? BC just bought one and has a great eye for real estate, but I need an introduction to the ins and outs of the financial piece. Does anyone have any recommended books and/ or websites for beginners? Any definite must-do’s and don’ts? I’m hoping to get into something in time to take advantage of the extended first time home buyer credit, so all help is welcome.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “One Week, Four Cities, One Darn Good Time

  1. OK, I think the place to start is with mortgage pre-approval. Ask around or look online for recommended banks or mortgage companies and give someone trustworthy a call. They will talk through your finances with you and then let you know what kind of mortgage you can expect to be approved for, and what an expected monthly cost would be so you can do some budgeting and figure out what would be feasible for you. From there you can start looking on real estate websites and then maybe setting up some house tours based on your budget.

    Good luck! So exciting.

  2. Sarah

    I just did this about 6 months ago.

    Start with finding a realtor you like and trust. A buyer’s agent is HUGE, they’ll be able to answer your questions and hold your hand through the process. And, their commission should be paid by the seller. The realtor may be able to help you find the financing you are looking for.

    My realtor recommended a mortgage broker to me who was fantastic. He took my 8pm calls and walked me through the financial panic attacks.

    Also, I don’t know what your financial situation is like, but look into an FHA first-time homebuyers loan. The downpayment is much smaller than is required by a traditional loan. A good mortgage broker should be able to help you decide what works best for you.

  3. Disclosure: I have never bought a house.

    Find a realtor you like and trust. Ask around, this is a word of mouth kind of thing. Figure out what your must haves are (laundry room, yard, whatever), and what you’d like but are willing to give up, and share this with the realtor.

    A lot of people have run into problems by buying a home they can barely afford. God forbid they get laid off or need a new roof or their kitchen explodes, and they’re screwed. Don’t buy whatever you’re pre-approved for (loan-wise). So I say buy something that costs LESS than what you can afford – that way you will more easily have a cushion.

    Consider buying a foreclosure – they’re much less expensive. Short sales are also less expensive but the process is longer so if you go into that be prepared for a lot of waiting time.

    I’m so happy for you that you’re doing this!

  4. Brian

    I agree with Jess – get pre-approved. Knowing that you have financing lined up will be a massive weight off your shoulders. Also, when I was looking to sell my condo in Chicago (still haven’t, 18 months later) our first Realtor would only bring pre-approved people to the unit.

    Having said that, don’t feel or fall into spending all you are pre-approved for. We were green lit for $325k at the time and we were looking to keep things below $240.

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