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WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Posted by monsoongirl (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 16, 08 at 23:43

Some background: We sold our last house almost a year and a half ago, and have had all our 'house money' sitting in the bank since. We are currently renting and our lease is up at the end of March.

We moved to a new city for DH's job just over 6 months ago - he is as secure in his job as you can be in this economy (we don't think he's at risk, but who really knows??). My income has dropped dramatically since we moved - in fact I basically have had no income since we moved. I will probably start applying for jobs back in my old field soon, so I should start earning again - just probably half of the 6 figures I used to make. : (
DH makes a little over $100,000/ year.

We have been looking for homes in an east coast city which is still a fairly stable market, for over a year. If we don't move on something soon we will need to rent for another year, which is fine if not ideal.

We generally move homes every couple of years because we aggressively worked our way up the property ladder. We are now looking to settle somewhere for 5 + years.

Here are our choices:

1: The dream house. I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a house like I have with this one. It is tremendous. It is also a bit too big for us, but has rental possibilities for the dormer rooms.
Price is higher than we want to spend. The price has come down by about 15% in the 6 months it has been on the market, but it has been at the current price for 4 months with only one rejected offer. The offer they turned down came in a few months ago and was 10% below current list.

They have now moved out of the house, but have a strong emotional tie to the house (owned it for 26 years) and are liable to get offended by a low offer.
We would be prepared to make an offer about 25% off current list, but their agent says that they will be offended by an offer that low. Honestly we would be more comfortable mortage wise, if we got it 30% off list. Even this price is much more than option 2 and we would have a mortgage around $250,000 on this house.
The house needs some work (that's what we do, and how we built the equity in our other homes), and that is why it hasn't sold yet.
I think it has enormous upside potential - if we do the work and the market comes back, this house could be worth big bucks. A house like this one but was renovated sold a month ago for a couple of hundred thousand above the current list price. They just don't build them like that any more.
Fabulous location.

OPTION 2: Also in a fabulous location, this house is a shade smaller than I would like (slightly cramped bedrooms and not as much closet space as we are used to), but should be perfectly adequate. It is nothing like as exciting as the 'dream house', but is a nice, solid little house in a great location. Also needs some work.
Sold for more than it is listed for now in 2005 and sold again 25% higher a year later in 2006. I doubt it will go anything like that high any time soon - the person who paid that for it must be out of their mind. It doesn't have anywhere near the upside potential of the first house.
It currently listed just below the 2005 sales price, so 25% off peak, and I think we MAY be able to get it at 30% off current list so they can get it off their books. This would allow us to pay cash for the house, and still have a considerable amount left in the bank.

Nowhere in this city has seen this kind of a drop, so I think it would be a bargain.

OPTION 3: Keep renting for another year, and hope that the 'dream house' comes into budget or that another house which is just the right size, and also in the right location comes along.

If it makes a difference, we are in our 30s. No credit card debt, student loans, car loans, etc.

If we do option 2 (which is what we're leaning towards) and option 1 ends up selling for what we would have paid for it, I am going to be extremely disappointed. So which option would you do?

The higher priced, potential higher return dream home or the sensible but small house with much lower potantial upside, but a real 'deal'.
Or would you wait it out and see if the dream house comes down in price..... but then you're also trapped in another 12 month lease and could miss out on the deal.

Thoughts?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

In my opinion, your jobs are still a little unstable to take on a large mortgage with option 1. Not only would you have a large mortgage with that option, but you may not have the funds to fix the house or reserves.

In option 2, the price drop is pretty significant and may be an indication the area is in a bubble and have more room to decline. I know this is a personal decision, but I think you really should like a house if you are going to stay in it for a while. The large upside of this property is your ability to pay cash and still have reserves to fix the property to your liking. It could be a winning scenario.

Option 3 would give you some more time for your husband to be settled in his job and for you to find a job. It's still pretty difficult for others to get financing and many are predicting that prices will continue to decline but even if they didn't in your area, they would possibly stay flat for some time.

Option 4 for me if I were you would be to move to a place with a six month lease or even a month to month rental situation so you may pounce when the time is right. I would try to wait and see if you can find a house you really like for an all cash situation. That would be the winning option.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Hi, I think that last letter was very sensible, and just want to add a couple of things. For one, people now, even excluding the whole terrible economic mess, are thinking 'green' and definitely smaller, which could really make #1 a millstone in future when you want to sell again, never mind the problem of paying for, and working personally on the upkeep of a large house. You don't sound happy about #2 though, and I would instead look around some more (things come on the mkt every day) til you see other smaller (smarter) and less expensive houses that still feel 'dreamy' to you (maybe even rethink what 'dream' means to you), but maybe only after you do the last poster's #4 - that freedom to move one way or the other (should things go sour workwise) is gold.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

At your young age and with one apparently secure job, I would work to get the dream house. You at least have to make the offer - insulting or not.

I would offer maybe 27 percent below list and include a letter that blunts the blow of the low offer.

Cramped bedrooms and lack of closet space - you are going to regret this every day. I would keep renting rather than buy something that wasn't adequate for me.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Great points raised so far - thank you!!

Some additional information. My DH has been in this job for a little over 2 years, so it's not a new job. We just moved to a different city because his commute was 1.5 hrs each way which wasn't sustainable. Now his commute is 30 - 40 mins each way depending on traffic.
So I do think that his job is stable enough, although of course the economy and lay offs make almost everyone feel more insecure than they normally would. DH's company is sill very profitable and no-one has been laid off to date.

a $250,000 mortgage is 2.5 x Dh's salary. I thought that was fairly conservative - and it assumes that I will continue to make no money. With a $250,000 mortgage we would still have around $85,000 left for renovations plus over a year's worth of expenses in our emergency fund.
To be fair I think that the total renovations will run in excess of $85,000 - but that would be a very good start, and anything left could be done over the years.

I am concerned about the size of the property - it is a 4 story row home (including dormer rooms), of which we would probably use 2 floors, and the third floor when we have guests. It's way more space than we need, so which is better - too much space, or not quite enough?

I realize many people will think we are quite mad, but I would be perfectly happy to have someone rent the dormer rooms which comprise of living room, bedroom and bathroom and kitchenette. We would probably get about $800 - $1000/ month for the suite of rooms (because of the location) which would help nicely with taxes and bills. They would have to share the front door and staircase. Of course when I get back on my feet work wise, we wouldn't need the renter.
Or, if God forbid, DH gets laid off, we could rent out the other 3 spare bedrooms for maybe $500 each which would cover the whole mortgage, including taxes. Not ideal to have the whole house filled with strangers - but it could work in an emergency situation.
I would NOT want to lose our whole downpaymet over a $250,000 loan!

The small house is a absolute steal. I am tempted by it because of that, but I am worried about the bedroom space.
The master is not large, but the master bathroom is HUGE leaving little space for closets. There are enough for one of us in the master, but not both.
The closet in the spare bedroom is small and up a flight of stairs, so one of us (probably DH : )) would have to go to a whole different floor to change.

We've NEVER had enough closet space in any of our houses for both of us to be in one room - downside of city living. But to have to go upstairs seems especially irritating.
Living space wise it is ideal though (smaller than our last house, but fine), and there is no wasted square footage. We can also live completely debt free in this house, and the location is to die for.

There are currently only 2 bedrooms, which is not good for a house. You could split the upstairs bedroom into 2 small bedrooms, which might actually be better for resale down the road.

We have been searching for homes here for over a year - and nothing seems quite ideal (well we've seen ideal, we just can't afford it! : )). I do like both of these homes more than almost any others that we have seen.

I feel like the small home is less likely to have any extremely expensive surprises.

I do think I may be erring on the side of being overly conservative here - but I think that may be sensible given the state of the economy. We have worked so hard to get our nest egg, and I don't fancy blowing the lot on one wrong move.

Another issue - you can't find 6 month leases here. Well you can, but boy do you have to pay over the odds for one. Same thing with month to month leases. If we go that route we will have to be taking a portion out of our savings to cover it. : (
That is kind of a crime in my eyes - I HATE taking anything out of savings, and to 'fritter' it away on a high rent price seems almost criminal. But I do take the point that having the flexibility could be key. I'll ponder on it some more.

Thanks guys - even writing it all down has helped. I kind of feel that we should wait and see what happens with the dream house. If it sells to someone else, then it sells.
But it's tough because this other house seems like such a deal, and there's no emotional sellers to deal with because it is relocation owned.

Also don't want DH to feel pressured to perform. While I am not contributing financially, I feel like I should be making things finacially as easy for him as possible. Like no mortgage payment. Having said that the reason I am not contributing is because we moved for HIS job.
Decisions, decisions......


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Well, Option 1 might be your dream house but if they rejected an offer at 10% below current list, it is really, really, REALLY doubtful they'll respond to a 30% below list offer. However, if you want to submit that offer the Realtor is required to submit it... no matter who gets offended.

Did you make a large enough profit on your last house that you will pay taxes on the profit if you do not buy before two years is up?

I find it interesting that you say the market is stable yet you are looking at 30% below list on two houses and think you may have a shot at it. Unless they were greatly overpriced, I wonder at the true stability. Saying that, I live in a very stable market. It seems like in November we finally hit neutral after years as a seller's market. There is a house two blocks away that is gorgeous, but way overpriced for the square footage (they valued the in-house pool square footage the same as the living area... not gonna happen) and has been sitting for a year! They overpriced it by 30% and it is still overpriced by 25% and I have to wonder if they would accept a reality based bid now, a year later (a year to sell a house in my subdivision is unheard of).... so maybe the first house is a possibility. Personally unless you will have a tax obligation if you don't buy, I wouldn't purchase Option #2. It doesn't sound like it meets many of your needs.

If you can't get Option #1 for your price, and nothing else comes up that grabs you, definitely go month-to-month on a lease. You'll pay a bit more for that privilege but you won't be tied to renting and you can buy if the "right house" comes along.


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Xamsx

I hear you. The only thing that gives me hope, is that the 10% below offer came in probably 4 months ago, and it has had no offers at all since. Those buyers have since purchased another house, so they are out of the picture.

The sellers have also since moved out, so the house is empty. They paid an enormous amount of money for a new home.
They surely must be more motivated now I would have thought.
I do think that it was over priced by 10% when they first listed it, and that they have chased the market down. If it had been priced where it is now in February when they first went on the market, it would probably have had a good shot at selling. Now it's sitting with no offers.

People ARE buying homes here - but they are buying homes which are renovated and in perfect condition. This house needs updating.

We made a lot of money on the house we sold (did a major renovation in 2006), but our accountant says we do not have to pay tax because Dh got his job when we had already bought the house, and we moved far enough away to be exempt, because we moved to be lcloser to his job. So I don't believe that we have to buy something within 2 years.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Just to add another thought. Unless the seller has specifically told the listing agent that he/she does not want to have any offers below xx amount presented to the seller, then the listing agent MUST present all offers. The listing agent may be correct, that the offer will be rejected, but it is not the agents role to make that decision. All though it may appear that that agent is looking out for his client, he really isn't. Not to mention that it is unethical not to present all offers unless instructed otherwise by the seller.
Jo


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Another thing, you may not be able to rent rooms in some areas. Check your zoning laws and now some areas are making the landlords get permits to rent. Also, you realize you have to rent to anyone and if they don't pay, you cannot just kick them out. Lots of things to consider before you rent and people in your home you may not really want.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

for consideration: Spring will have more inventory as people remove/don't have their houses on the market in winter time. Some foreclosures are being held off until after January as well.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

I will just add that I have been going around town low-balling offers right and left. All the sellers have been insulted. All the offers have been rejected. All those same sellers ended up selling for a price that was much closer to my offer than to what they were asking. One of these days I will end up in a house I can afford. I'm in no hurry.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Give some thought to the fact that the real estate markets may have undergone a fundamental change from the way they were a couple of years ago. This will vary from area to area, but the days when one could "aggressively move up" from house to house by buying, improving, and reselling after a couple of years may be gone for some time to come.

My advice would be to buy a house you can afford without anxiety or dipping too deeply into your savings and consider it more an investment in housing, not housing as an investment. Option 1, the big stretch but the dreamhouse sounds like you're counting on it being more of an investment vehicle than the right size, right kind of housing for yourselves. A good many people who thought that way in the last few years are under terrible financial pressure now.

My advice would be to continue to rent, then buy a house of the right size, and price for you now. Rent money is not money lost, it's purchasing shelter, something we all need. Even if you have a lease, sometimes you can get out of it by paying a month or two until it can be re-rented. Perhaps, too, you could get the option to sublet.

I second the comment about finding out if you can legally rent rooms, or a portion of your house. In many places this is prohibited.

You do not have to purchase another house with any time period to shelter your capital gains from the previous house - that's the old rules regarding sales of houses. Now, you can keep all the cap. gains of your primary residence, up to 500K per couple, as long as you lived in the house for the preceeding two out of five years. (exceptions are for moving due to work, then I think you can prorate the cap. gains exemption.)

I know you are very taken by your dream house (option 1), but I think these days that dream houses are going to much more common on the ground, with less competition for them.

Molly~


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

No matter what you do, you need to get out of a long term lease like the one you are in now, or perhaps approach the owner and offer to pay a bit more monthly for an opt-out provision or a month-to-month contract. You want to be fluid, so you can take advantage of opportunity, and you won't be if you lock in for the next year.

I would NEVER buy a house going in to it with it being 'already' too small, and with it not having enough closet space. Those feelings will multiply the longer you live there and after you move in your belongings, not diminish. Worse yet, the re-sale potential on option #2 is self-limiting. That is especially important if you have determined you will be moving out of it in X number of years and plan to put it back on the market.

Only you can determine if you are comfortable with the risks involved in house #1, but if you get out of your year's lease situation, you can continue to wait for it, should the owners reject your lower offer, and it stays on the market and they drop their expectations........ or keep looking for another home with 'dream' potential. They ARE out there.

My tack on this would be to keep looking for a dream home out of the 'speculation' picture.......and that is exactly what house #1 is. You are speculating on it to fix it up and have it appreciate. I think this is actually an excellent market to look for a home, as opposed to a 'flip' which is basically what #1 would become. A slow flip. It's OK to get one a bit cheaper to fix up and save even more money and I think those are still a good opportunity and you can still climb up the real estate ladder, only now it might be wise to do it more conservatively with an eye out for maintaining equity and not getting rich on appreciations.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

My two cents:

Forget Option 2. It's not what you want.

As for Option 1, it sounds pretty risky. There are so many what-ifs and has-to-happen in order for the house to be right for you. It also sounds too big. Lovely but too big.

I would try to find a place with a six-month lease and the ability to go month-to-month if I really really wanted to buy in 2009. And then continue the search for something that's not too big and not too small but just right.

I think TriangleJohn is onto something. Make offers but on your own terms. Don't try to twist yourself (or your finances) into buying a particular house.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

A lot to think about!

I think we are 95% sure that we won't move forward with house 2. We may go and look one last time (it's vacant), to see if there's a way to reconfigure some more closet space.

I agree that there will not be any flipping on homes at the minute. To be honest though I don't really see how we could 'upgrade' from this house. In the city the next step up is probably never going to be in our budget!
I would like to settle down from constant moving for a while, although to be honest I have never lived in a house longer than 5 years in my life. I think it's time though!!

I think making an offer on house 1 right now is a huge gamble. We could as easily offend them as not. It may be better to wait and hope they do another big price reduction to get us closer to our goal price.

Of course we risk it going, but I know logically that there will always be another option. The problem is I am emotional about house 1 which has never happened to me before, and we can't make a decision in this kind of market based on having fallen in love with a house.

Maybe another 6 months or a year on the side lines may not be such a bad idea.

I am checking on the rental rules btw.

Thanks all for your comments!


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

A $250K mortgage at today's interest rates is cake on 100K and no car notes. $1350? 300K is $1600? What's your rent? I'm sure taxes are killer, but what else are you spending money on - food? Plus you can deduct the interest and taxes. How many times in history have there been rates like this? Thats not even including your potential earnings. Do it!

I would rather live in a dump than have some stranger live with me. Make a media room or make babies for floor 4.

Buy #2 as well and rent it out.



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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Yeah, the taxes are a little challenging at $8500. That's actually not bad considering the price of the house. Basically we're looking at around $2000/ month for the mortgage including taxes. That's less than we pay in rent right now for a 2 bedroom apartment!
Utilities will be high though.
Other than that we spend a lot on cell phones: approx $150/ month. Internet and home phone is about $80/ month. Cable: $90. Groceries: $300/ month. Insurance: $200/ month.
It all adds up quite quickly even with no car loans and no credit card debt.
If I was earning it would be no problem, but I think it's good to base it off of one salary to be safe.
Sadly can't afford to buy both! : )


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

OK - I'll play devil's advocate & try to make a case for house #2.

The obvious plus - and it's a HUGE plus - getting a great deal for the area AND being able to pay CASH with money left in the bank is nothing to sneeze at.

Ok - so it's a bit smaller than you're used to. Maybe that would be a liberating thing? Get rid of all the meaningless stuff that you tend to accumulate over time. Our first house was a 1910 farmhouse w/ about 900 sq ft. We got a great deal on it, did some really cute cosmetic stuff & ended up selling it for about double 7 years later. It was so small that if we bought something, something had to go to make room for it. We ended up with some great pieces of furniture because we had to be really selective!

Another positive with a smaller house is that it costs so much less to renovate. We put in great counter tops, flooring etc and it didn't cost a fortune because we weren't having to buy zillions of square feet of high end products.

Unless I was 100% sure I'd be in this next purchase for 10+ years and have kids there so I'd actually NEED the extra room, I wouldn't do it. Having #2 free & clear would be a gift that should not be taken lightly. What a weight off your shoulders not to have a big mortgage!

We moved to a much larger house with much more land. Love it, don't regret it - but we plan to go back to small house at retirement. Already got that house (1000 sq ft) and are in the midst of renovations. In the meantime we'll use it for weekends / vacations. It was a super bargain in a great location, so I know what you mean! Is it our perfect dream house? No - but it has some great things - like a view - that we'll really enjoy. It's a bit too small, but then how much stuff do we really need?

So - there are a lot of good things about small houses. I'm glad you're going back to look at #2!

Good luck with whatever you decide. You're young - no decision can be that bad, can it???

PS - We just went thru this on buying a new TV.... do we really need a 46"-50" set when the 40"-42" would work just fine for us????? I'll bet you can guess where we ended up.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Am i reading it right that you are considering 2 houses that are approx $250K apart? cash vs a $250K mortage? It still sounds like you're in a market/tax bracket where $250K is significant.

Personally, I think thats somewhat nuts that you're considering both. I think you should shop in 1 market after deciding whether you are willing to take on a mortgage.

250K mortage is affordable on 100K even with 8500 in taxes.

Other thing that was touched on earlier. 30% off list.... good luck, I doubt it will happen. Low ball offers almost never work with houses or cars unless there is real duress. Yeah, it may be worth 30% less than what they lsited at, but they will need to that conclusion on their own in a painful drawn out process. They're not magically going to see a 30% less offer and say, "Gee, thats what our house is worth, let me take that"

I'm not saying don't make the offer, just be prepared for a refusal. TO actually make a deal, you need to find the seller who finally came to that realization they need to drop 15% and do, then you come in with your offer below but close to their asking and get the house.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Update please - what did you decide monsoongirl?


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. The short version is that we didn't put in an offer on either house, and both are still on the market.

We went to take a look at the smaller house, and even if it could be a bargain I just wouldn't like it enough without major (expensive) remodeling.

House number 2 (dream house) is still on the market at the same price as before. It will have been on the market for a year in a few days, and has not had a price drop in 6 months. It's now vacant.

We came to the same conclusion as chrisk327 when he said this: "Low ball offers almost never work with houses or cars unless there is real duress. Yeah, it may be worth 30% less than what they lsited at, but they will need to that conclusion on their own in a painful drawn out process. They're not magically going to see a 30% less offer and say, "Gee, thats what our house is worth, let me take that"

We did put an offer in on another house - at close to the same price they paid for it in 2006. They think it's now worth 20% more than they paid in 2006, and no they didn't do any upgrades. They didn't even counter our offer.
That one is also still on the market.

Here in my area buyers and sellers are at total stalemate. The sellers are not reducing and the buyers are not buying. Someone is going to have to give in the end.

We may not get the dream house, or the one that we made the offer on, but something will come up eventually at a price we are willing to pay, and we are in no real rush.

So we wait.......


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

I would present the lowball offer to the dreamhouse. You can't hurt anything by doing so. Also, include a personal letter explaining to the current owners how you see it as your dream house, how great it must have been for them to have lived there, and blah, blah, blah. You mentioned how emotionally attached they are to it. Letters like these along with an offer can go a long way.
Either that or consider adding on another room and closet space to home #2. Even if you did not want to spend all of your cash on a renovation, you can take out a loan for it.
Good luck.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

hobokenkitchen is monsoongirl your spouse?


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

ncrealestateguy - I have spoken to so many other agents from the listing office of the dream house - these people WILL be offended by a low ball. My gut tells me to let them bring the price down on their own.... or let someone else pay more for it than we are willing to. Yes I will be disappointed if it sells, and I see it sells for what we would be willing to pay, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

It IS a dream house, but it is also not perfect. It's a bit too big, and I'm worried about upkeep and maintanence costs.

The reason we put an offer in on house # 3, is that it wasn't too small, it wasn't too big, it was just right! : )

xamsx. No same person, I created a new login because I used to post on this site a lot and didn't want to be splashing around personal info like salaries and house prices. Then I forgot when I last logged in. Oops. : )

One thing I know about real estate is that there is always another house. Especially in this market. Since I first posted, the employment figures have also taken a dramtic turn for the worse.
We're on a month to month lease now and while our capital is earning less and less interest, I just don't see any need to rush. We're comfortable here so why not wait and see what happens in the next 6 months or so? If something happens with the houses we like price wise, we'll make a move. But until then, we'll keep looking.
I think a lot of buyers feel the same way at the minute.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

oops, sorry to help out you.


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RE: WWYD?? House Purchase Options.

No problem - entirely my own fault!!


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