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August 28, 2006

Comments

Natalie

Hey Catherine.. I have my real estate license, and have been around the real estate business my whole life (since my mom has her own brokerage company). If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me. (Don't worry.. I'm not trying to get your business. hehe.. You opened my eyes to the wonders of deep-fried Twinkies, so I thought I might return the favor by providing some answers, if needed.)

Dr. No

Yay for houre-hunting! And also: boo for house-hunting! It can be a pain, fo sho, but it's a lot like trying to find the right pants -- something looks really good on the mannequin, and then you try putting yourself in it, and suddenly all the proportions are wrong and you realize it's kinda fugly.

Still, good luck -- so exciting!

Autumn

Where is the Emmy blog?? I didn't watch them, but I was so looking forward to your response to the show...so, good luck with your property search...buy outside California, that's my advice:) Jk-I love it there, even though it's UNGODLY expensive...LOVE IT and am slightly jealous...

TheQueen

We never house-hunted, we built. Do you like mud? Do you mind waiting ten years to have a backyard with an ecosystem? Then build. If I had to do it over I'd have gone for my dream house right off the bat.

My best house advice is: keep the house after you buy it. Don't trade up. We've got only a year or so before the mortgage is paid off.

jeff

get a good agent, one who really knows the area you're looking in. get references. be specific about what you're looking for but also keep your mind open. sometimes you need to look past what a property looks like now to what it could be. having said that, make sure whatever you buy is structurally sound (you can always repaint or repair cosmetic things, but structural and foundation issues can be a nightmare.) the nolo press puts out a book how to buy a home in california. it was a great help to me.

ariel

Here are my tips:

Find a good agent. I have suffered at the hands of an agent I hated and prospered greatly under the care of two I adore. An agent should also be able to hook you up with a password for themls.com, so that you can see listings before they come up on the guest pages of the mls and so that you can view more details about them.

Any time you want to know more about a property try Zillow.com, but beware their "zestimate." The zestimate is wildly inaccurate and often doesn't take the simplest things into account- like how busy a street is.

Remember that paint is cheap, baths and kitchens will run you 10-15k a piece depending on appliances, and the cost of expanding a place grows exponentially by the number of walls you disturb, and it's often more expensive than it's worth to build up. If you want to know how much ANYTHING costs, please ask, I know.

Also don't forget that while you can make all the changes in the world to your little plot of the world, you can't change the neighborhood in which it is nestled. Living someplace that makes you happy has less to do with your home than you might imagine.

I have a FANTASTIC mortgage broker whom I love, I'll be happy to give you his info and he can probably help you thoroughly understand what you can afford and what you can qualify for.

Please feel free to email me. Maybe I should write a book, geesh.

Grant

Congrats on deciding to own, and good luck in the hunt!

//pessimism on

Keep in mind that the market's in an interesting state in the US right now. Interest rates have risen quite a bit, and a lot of people who moved their tech bubble money into real estate five years ago are looking at adjustable rate mortgages that are about to, well, adjust. A lot. Check out foreclosures.com for potential deals in your areas of interest, and be sure to check out any place you're interested in on zillow.com as well - it'll tell you what they buyer paid and what the neighboring houses are worth.

The summer housing rush is almost over (have to buy before the kids go back to school, don'tcha know!) and prices should dip a bit going into October and November. Despite what any real estate agent may tell you (friends' advice excluded, of course!), this is not a 'must-buy' market and very few if any homes are flying off the proverbial shelves. Don't rush, and don't settle. Beware the 'just listed' trap - sellers' agents can pull a house off MLS with no trace of it ever being listed, then list it for less without marking it as 'reduced'.

Mel and I looked at buying here in the Bay area for the better part of a year before deciding we were better off renting property (yay new rental house!) than money (boo mortgage rates and house prices). We're not alone - the local newspaper just ran a story about how houses were sitting on the market for over twice as long as this time last year - some (admittedly scary) neighborhoods are seeing 5x or more increases in average selling times. (Obviously those stats don't account for the houses pulled and re-listed, either!) Sincewe were watching both the sales and rental listings, we had the joy of seeing homes flip back and forth between the two as the owner tries anything to get out of the mortgage.

// pessimism off

So, good luck with the hunt - stay informed, don't settle, and don't be afraid to walk away! It's not quite a buyer's market yet, but it finally seems to be headed that way after eight years of insanity. :)

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