How Do We Choose Properties?

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about how the Real Estate market is starting to heat up again, and that now is a great time to buy. That may or may not be the case where you live because Real Estate is so local (good time to buy in Miami? Maybe. Detroit? HA!), but I can give you some insight on what our thought process was for when we purchased our house.

First, we picked out two or three geographies based on our jobs. Don’t overlook this step! If you can become a one car, or no car household by living close to your work, you can reap huge benefits. Cars are incredibly expensive, and unlike housing, they depreciate rapidly to zero. Once you factor in time lost in a long commute, gas prices, insurance and repairs, its pretty obvious that living near your place of work is a big deal. If you work from home, I hate you and you can go to hell.

Next, get down to a few neighborhoods. As a rule, pick the nicest one you can afford, even if it means a lesser house. Why? Because all of those McMansions on the outskirts of town aren’t worth jack shit now that the bubble has burst, are incredibly costly for taxes (calculated as a percentage of square footage), heating and cooling, and for all the crap people buy to put in them. But wait! Don’t get a neighborhood that has any association dues, and do make sure that new assessments won’t be levied for city water/sewer or other infrastructure repairs. If you think you need a gated community, punch yourself twice and grow up-you’re just flushing money down the drain.

Lastly, the house itself. When Mrs. Pop and I bought our house, we quickly figured out that houses with some sort of cosmetic or structural damage were priced as if a professional contractor would be hired…and even rank amateurs like us could do the job for way less. There is no free lunch here-you have to learn new skills, purchase tools, and spend time on the project. However, but doing all of these things, we were able to get a great house in a fantastic neighborhood for way under list price. Home sweet home indeed!

Next up-how to scope out a rental house…

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