parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Sunday, February 25, 2007
    Open Houses
    In a continuation of my obsessive behavior, J. and I stopped into a few open houses today. They were both listed as 3 bedroom condominiums - one was 1297 square feet (which I thought sounded small, but wanted to see what it looked like), and the other was 1500 square feet. Both of them were asking approx $519,000.

    The first one was weird, because you walked in the house and the first thing on your left and right were bedrooms. I don't like that. I just was thinking earlier today that one thing I don't like about our apartment is you have a clear line of sight from my entry door to my bedroom. I don't want people instantly peering at my (always) unmade bed. Get out of my room.

    But the living room and dining room were nice. They weren't too small, but I don't think I could have gone much smaller.

    It also should NOT have been listed as a 3 bedroom. Two of the bedrooms were very good sizes, but what they called a third bedroom actually seemed to be part of the master suite. It had a crib and a dresser in it, and that filled it up. There was no way a twin bed could have fit in there with room for anything , and there is no way that I could have convinced one of the girls to take the tiny room.

    The rule here (is it everywhere?) is that in order to call something a "bedroom" it has to have a window and a closet. This closet was about 8 inches deep and had shelves from floor to ceiling.

    If we had only one kid, I would have loved it. The tiny room would have been a perfect (and bigger than required) office. I don't, however, have only one kid.

    The second condo was bigger, and better suited to us:

    You walked into a living room and dining room -- it was a very open space, but the current occupants had a japanese curtain up dividing the two rooms. We probably wouldn't do that. The kitchen was little, and didn't have a gas range (a requirement for Beloved).

    You then proceeded down a narrow hallway lined in shelves (which I liked a LOT)...

    to two (currently) kids' rooms. They were also good sized.

    The master suite here was a loft. There were very rickety feeling spiral stairs going from the dining room (?) to the upstairs, and the stairs came out pretty much in the middle of the bedroom. The suite as a whole was nice - there was a bathroom, skylights, a huge walk in closet, and a small study.

    But the main area, where the bed goes, ONLY fit a bed. And a full sized bed at that (we have a queen). There was one alcove right under a skylight which you could not access without crawling over the bed.

    $519,000 will probably be the outside edge of what we can afford in a year. That will result in mortgage payments (including taxes and home owner insurance) of approx $3600/month. Which is really freaking high. And they're going to be places we "settle" for.


    We can rent a 4 br, up to 1800 square foot apartment for $2800/mo.

    I am thinking it will be better to keep renting, while building up a down payment and getting annual raises and bonuses. Then, in 3 years, we'll be able to buy a place that we aren't settling for.

    [some examples of the space and quality of available rentals]

    The problem that is raised with that plan ... We'll then be only 4 years from losing one of the kids to college, and 6 years from the other. So is it a worthwhile investment?

    But yet, we don't plan on kicking the girls in the pants to get them out the door right after graduation, and we would like our home to be their home throughout college. I always hated stories of people who left for college and before the car even went around the corner, their room was turned into an office or a sewing room. We don't want to do that.

    Really, I'm stressing prematurely. But I have been enjoying looking at spaces and prices, and knowing what is needed. I know how much monthly payments will be, I know that I don't like bedrooms near the entry way. The only reason, really, why I thought I could buy now is because there has been story after story about the housing market doing a nose dive in this area.

    We used to say, before the market shifted, that we would rent here, and then buy/build a second home. We've been on the fence of country v. coast. I think I may start looking at that option again.


    posted by Zuska @ 5:41 PM  
    • At Sunday, February 25, 2007 10:09:00 PM, Blogger Mieke said…

      Christ! You can't get a shithole in the ghetto for that here in L.A. I am not lying. I am so jealous!

      The litle crapper we live in would list for 1.3 million dollars. Have you seen this box? It's wall to wall carpet? It's aluminum windows? 1.3! can you believe it.

    • At Sunday, February 25, 2007 10:12:00 PM, Blogger Zuska said…

      from the watching i've been doing, things have dropped in this locale by probably $250,000 ... in the past 2 months, some of hte properties I've kept my eyes on have gone down by $50K.

      Just not enough for me!

      I remember what it was like in Berkeley, though. I watched houses go from $250K to over a million in the 4 years that I was there. CA is worse, I know!

      There's also lots of places that are better .... I'm just not willing to live in them.

    • At Monday, February 26, 2007 11:26:00 AM, Blogger LawSchoolMom said…

      Having purchased two homes, I honestly believe it is impossible to time the housing market.

      If housing has dropped that drastically in your area, then now might be a good time to purchase, if you are ready and you find something you like, because houses invariably appreciate over time and waiting three years could send home prices back into the stratosphere (especially in your locale).

      Also, the first house you buy doesn't have to be "perfect." Live in it until the girls go to college, enjoy steady appreciation, then take that money (along with you bonuses and increased buying power) and find yourself that perfect home for your family.

      Our first house was nice but it wasn't our dream home. It was a good starter house that provided us with great rental income and enabled us to buy our current house in an area we love.

      Ultimately, it all comes down to how you feel about homeownership. My two cents: if you plan to stay in your current nabe (and it sounds like you do), BUY something you like while prices are low(er). It may not get any better than this.

    • At Monday, February 26, 2007 12:04:00 PM, Blogger Zuska said…

      Oh, but I'm not timing the market. I'm timing my paychecks! We can't enter into a mortgage until I start work in late September at the earliest. The market has done wacky things this year, making it so that right now is the best time - but that doesn't give me an income. Waiting three years has more to do with storing up a downpayment than with trying to anticipate the market.

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