The real estate disaster has dragged on for over 4 years. We all know that. What surprises me though is how little some in the buying public have learned or planned for taking advantage of the depressed prices. I am not talking about someone who was unemployed, I am talking about folks with stable jobs making much more than I was earning 15 years ago when I bought my first home-a major fixer upper. I regularly receive phone calls from first time buyers eager to buy because prices are so low and it is such a great time to buy. In some areas here in Tampa it is possible to buy a house for 1990, 1995, or 2000 prices with 2010 wages. I have seen some properties in my Seminole Heights market priced at what I could not buy a fixer upper for in 1995 and these homes are in move-in condition.
I am amazed at the callers who say they have been watching for the right time to buy and they just love the house they just saw. I talk with them about getting pre-qualified with a lender and ask if they are looking to buy conventional or FHA. Like most first-time buyers they ask for explanation and I explain that convention could require as much as 20% down. They are shocked. Then I explain FHA would require 3.5% down. So I get asked how much do I need and I say that depends on the price of the house. So I give example at 100k ($3500) and 150k ($5250) and I explain there are also closing costs. That is followed by "how much are closing costs?" I then explain that to depends on the price of the house and the age of the house because of insurance costs. So I ask how much they have saved. Too often it is barely $2,000. That is not enough to buy a 70k home even with closing cost assistance of 3% of the purchase price from the seller
Folks this has been going on for 4 years...if someone had just saved $10 a week they would have that set aside that much over 4 years. At $30 dollars a week one could have $6,200 in 2 years time. How badly did these potential buyers want to get that house? Enough to skip a dinner out once a week? Maybe enough to have bought a less expensive car? For 70 years home values have risen pretty much with out disruption. For a 100 years cars have depreciated in value from the moment you drove home. Which is historically the better value?
The same folks who couldn't afford a house in 2005 because of prices still can't buy a home because they have saved next to nothing for down payment. These are the same folks that won't maintain a home because it requires discipline to save money for when the roof needs to be replaced or the water heater gives out or the house needs to be treated for termites.
Maybe home ownership really isn't for everybody. Maybe it is easier for them to live with those noisy upstairs neighbors. Maybe it is easier for them to turn over their paychecks to a landlord. Maybe it really is important to have that daily latte from a pricey coffee chain.
But if your one of those who wants to get your first home and you are not a trust fund baby, skipping just a few items a week could have you in a home sooner than you think.
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