Friday, May 23, 2008

Finding a House

A Newbies Guide to Not Understanding Buying a House

How do you go about buying a house? There's so much data out there that it's difficult to find information.

We would like to move and buy a house in January of next year. As we've started looking at housing, we've realized that there are a ton of things that real estate websites assume you already know. Unfortunately, we don't know them, and we're getting a crash course.

Our problem is made worse by the fact that some thing real estate sites think we should care about, we don't. For example, they want to know exactly what city you want to live in and have finely divided price ranges for searching.

We just want to move to a specific region of the country. Google says the area we would be happy moving to is a roughly 420 mile diameter circle. We're also pretty flexible on price. For the right house on the right lot we'd be happy to pay $300,000, but we've also seen $60,000 houses that we like just fine (in different cities).

These and other factors are making house searching a slightly cumbersome project! Below are some of the issues we've come across while house hunting.

Things We Don't (or didn't) Know

  • How many square feet do we need? What does 2000 sq. feet mean? How big is that *really*? Some pictures of rooms and houses and their square footages would help us get in the ballpark here.
  • How big is an acre? This lot has .2 arces. So what? City slickers like us don't uses acres till we're trying to buy land, so we have no notion of how big an acre is!
  • What are the requirements for a First Time Homebuyer's loan?
  • First Time Homebuyer programs have different limits on salary and housing cost based on the city or neighborhood the house is located in.
  • Is it possible to buy a house in a neighborhood with a HOA (Home Owner's Association) and not join. (I hate all the rules...)
  • How do we find jobs near the houses we like?

Things We Wish We Could Do
  • Search for homes that would fall under the max first time homebuyer's program values
  • Show homes in neighborhoods/cities where I would qualify for a first time homebuyer loan
  • Filter houses by areas with HOAs
  • Show homes for sale on a map with the local schools, parks and other features highlighted
  • Find the prices for other similar houses nearby and in other neighborhoods
  • Have links to the local chamber of commerce or city business listing websites next to houses

There's a lot more, and a general sense of being overwhelmed. I'm sure we'll find our way through the haze, but it'd be nice if there was more digestible information available online.

If any real estate company sees this post, please feel free to implement any and all ideas. I'd love to be your customer if you did.

No comments: