Home Ownership

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Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Thu Mar 26 9:13 pm

Before you ask Jeeves, come here to ask about home ownership--and learn how to cut the grass while you're at it!
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Thu Mar 26 9:14 pm

My question that spurred this:

Other than the principle, interest, taxes, insurance, and (+/-) PMI, what other costs come into play when you buy a home, and how do those usually get calculated?
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by streakygopher » Thu Mar 26 9:16 pm

rowshkex wrote:My question that spurred this:

Other than the principle, interest, taxes, insurance, and (+/-) PMI, what other costs come into play when you buy a home, and how do those usually get calculated?

You mean, after closing costs on the loan?

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Thu Mar 26 9:18 pm

I don't know what "closing costs" entail, so the answer is probably:

Yes, including these so-called closing costs. :mrgreen:
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Re: Home Ownership

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Idontknow » Thu Mar 26 9:22 pm

rowshkex wrote:My question that spurred this:

Other than the principle, interest, taxes, insurance, and (+/-) PMI, what other costs come into play when you buy a home, and how do those usually get calculated?


Are you talking about an existing home or new construction?

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Kelor » Thu Mar 26 9:23 pm

Just go onto something like Capitalone360 (the old ING direct) and get an estimate. They include pretty much everything. Filing taxes, appraisal fees, points, etc..

Of all my mortgages I've ever had, the estimates from any mortgage company have always been almost spot on.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Thu Mar 26 9:26 pm

Existing homes.

Do average closing costs stay about the same for areas? If so, does the metro area have relatively predictable closing costs? And is that all that typically gets added after P/I, taxes, insurance, and PMI?
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Kelor » Thu Mar 26 9:28 pm

Filing fee taxes differ from county to county.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by streakygopher » Thu Mar 26 9:29 pm

The old rule on PMI was 20% down got you out of that one (if you can hack the 20%, don't need to have it)....not sure what it is nowadays after the 2008 mortgage market implosion. Just be careful of anybody offering a loan that looks too good to be true.....you'll be getting screwed somewhere in the fine print.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by streakygopher » Thu Mar 26 9:30 pm

rowshkex wrote:Existing homes.

Do average closing costs stay about the same for areas? If so, does the metro area have relatively predictable closing costs? And is that all that typically gets added after P/I, taxes, insurance, and PMI?

Suggest you get "pre qualified" as a buyer and have your lender get you a pro forma for closing costs in the price range for which you are shopping.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dxmnkd316 » Thu Mar 26 10:03 pm

rowshkex wrote:I don't know what "closing costs" entail, so the answer is probably:

Yes, including these so-called closing costs. :mrgreen:


I still have all of my closing documents from both mortgages. I can show you if you want.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dxmnkd316 » Thu Mar 26 10:04 pm

I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by davescharf » Thu Mar 26 10:23 pm

There's a law now requiring the good faith estimates be pretty close to what you pay at closing. A lot of the costs are by county, what they require you to escrow up front, and the overall price of the house. The Pro Forma mentioned above is a good option to understand those costs.

Whatever you do also always pay for an inspection when you buy. We lost out on a house in part because we were contingent on an inspection but it's worth the $350-$400 to know what you may be having to fix. The house we bought ended up having issues with window seals and we required the owner to make all the repairs if he wanted to close.

I don't know what rates are like right now because I've heard they've gone up, but we just refinanced into a 15 year and got 2.875% from a local credit union. I still feel like we're going to get arrested any day for Larceny.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Thu Mar 26 10:32 pm

2.875? That's awesome, haha...

Thanks for the thoughts everyone!
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopherguy06 » Thu Mar 26 10:36 pm

What credit union? That's great. Did you have to pay any closing?

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopherguy06 » Thu Mar 26 10:38 pm

dxmnkd316 wrote:I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home.

In geneal, I agree, but not always the case. In most cases people who want to purchase a home may not have a ton saved up but can afford a monthly. Your income will increase over time and be able to afford it. Not always the case, but doesn't always make sense to do 20% down. Definitely stricter limits on what you can put down and what rates you get for a FHA or traditional.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopheritall » Thu Mar 26 10:43 pm

When I bought my first house I got them to give me the paperwork a few days ahead of time. I was able to dispute signing one of the forms (that gave them authorization to pull my tax returns for 7 years). It took raising to a manager with the bank. I just told them to let me know of any tax forms that they needed right then and there and I would provide. I did not feel comfortable with them being able to pull future tax returns.

When we closed the form was there and we refused to sign and it needed to go back to the bank again. The closer said that they had never seen forms removed before.

Our second house, we asked for forms and were refused. Asking for things don't always work but it doesn't hurt to ask.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopheritall » Thu Mar 26 10:53 pm

gopherguy06 wrote:
dxmnkd316 wrote:I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home.

In geneal, I agree, but not always the case. In most cases people who want to purchase a home may not have a ton saved up but can afford a monthly. Your income will increase over time and be able to afford it. Not always the case, but doesn't always make sense to do 20% down

I would also argue that earning equity in a home beats paying rent, even if you also pay PMI. Even the small amount earned during the initial payments. You get nothing back out of rent.

As I understand it, going forward if your home value increases you can have it assessed and if your equity passes the 20% threshold you can have PMI removed. The 20% is not based on the value at purchase but the current value.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dryfly » Thu Mar 26 10:55 pm

dxmnkd316 wrote:I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home.


I disagree - it really depends on the person and situation. And the cost structure of the market. If a person has an almost certain probability of having an increasing income - say graduating from medical school... ahem... and a pretty certain career path, well defined and not as likely to have hiccups... then buying with less than 20% down isn't a huge risk.

The thing I told my kids is it is more important to make sure they have plenty of room to make the monthly nut [all costs including anticipated house maintenance and upkeep] than pay a big down payment. I would rather see them go almost 0% down on a property they can easily make payments [maybe even on one income] than buy a house with 20% down where afterward they still struggle making the payments.

Some metrics that I have always found useful:

People should avoid buying a house where their total mortgage amount is more than three times their annual gross salary. This even if they have 20% down. The Ideal max number for a mortgage is two times your gross family income or LESS. In many parts of the country prices are so high you could pay 20% down and still have a mortgage way over three times median incomes of the people living there. Places like coastal Cali or NYC. Twin Cities aren't cheap but not terrible compared to East Coast or West Coast.

Ideally your payments, insurance, etc., should be less than 1/4 of your gross before tax income or less than 1/3 of your net after tax income - whichever constrains you first. Combine other debt [school loans, car, cc], utilities, taxes, maintenance, HOA if you have it... all combined these 'fixed obligations' plus mortgage payments should always be under half your gross income or never more than 60% of your net income ... again whichever constrains you first. The point is that you always want at least 40% or more of your net income to be truly discretionary. And I don't mean play money - I mean food, clothing, necessary travel, unanticipated maintenance and of course - Gopher hockey tickets. After that and saving - then play money.

Don't buy a house that prices out at more than four times median gross family income in that area even if YOU can afford it. That would suggest it would be hard to sell if you had to sell for a forced relocation. Hard to sell because there wouldn't be many others in that area who could afford to buy that house at the price you paid for it. So either you sell for a loss to move it or wait for a greater fool to pay what you paid. Neither are desirable. Ideally you buy a house less than 3 times median gross family income in that area. In coastal California circa 2008 houses were routinely selling for over TEN times regional gross family incomes. It was a big reason why the housing market was hit hardest there. Once house prices stopped going up - tide went out - everyone was swimming naked.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dryfly » Thu Mar 26 11:07 pm

gopheritall wrote:I would also argue that earning equity in a home beats paying rent, even if you also pay PMI. Even the small amount earned during the initial payments. You get nothing back out of rent.


It depends. The house I live in has only gone up in price 3X over thirty years. This is a sluggish housing market. The stock market over that period has gone up WAY more than that over the same period. So a person on my block would have been wiser to have not accumulated equity - rented for less and taken the money and instead have invested it in the market.

The opposite was true if you lived in coastal California where house appreciation actually beat the stock market.

There are few 'easy answers' to any of this - just a lot of 'maybes' and 'it depends'.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by streakygopher » Thu Mar 26 11:10 pm

gopheritall wrote:
gopherguy06 wrote:
dxmnkd316 wrote:I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home.

In geneal, I agree, but not always the case. In most cases people who want to purchase a home may not have a ton saved up but can afford a monthly. Your income will increase over time and be able to afford it. Not always the case, but doesn't always make sense to do 20% down

I would also argue that earning equity in a home beats paying rent, even if you also pay PMI. Even the small amount earned during the initial payments. You get nothing back out of rent.

As I understand it, going forward if your home value increases you can have it assessed and if your equity passes the 20% threshold you can have PMI removed. The 20% is not based on the value at purchase but the current value.

That's true about the PMI...but I'm guessing you have to pay for an appraisal to get it removed. At any rate, yes earning equity beats paying rent. Except if you don't gain equity and go upside down instead of right side up. There were many many people who bought high in '04,'05, '06, and '07, just ahead of the market gutting. Many people lost their homes. Even more got some of their life savings gutted. I can guarantee if you ask any one of them they'll telling renting ain't such a bad thing. :wink:

I've owned several homes, and in each case if I make an honest accounting of what I put into the place - closing costs, insurance, interest, maintenance, realtor fees, inspections, appraisals, property taxes, services (not to mention free labor) etc. - I didn't exactly clean up on any of them. I've heard about people in California who buy a house and sell it when the price doubles or triples.....I've heard about people winning the lottery, too. :wink:

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by streakygopher » Thu Mar 26 11:13 pm

dryfly wrote:
gopheritall wrote:I would also argue that earning equity in a home beats paying rent, even if you also pay PMI. Even the small amount earned during the initial payments. You get nothing back out of rent.


It depends. The house I live in has only gone up in price 3X over thirty years. This is a sluggish housing market. The stock market over that period has gone up WAY more than that over the same period. So a person on my block would have been wiser to have not accumulated equity - rented for less and taken the money and instead have invested it in the market.

The opposite was true if you lived in coastal California where house appreciation actually beat the stock market.

There are few 'easy answers' to any of this - just a lot of 'maybes' and 'it depends'.

I lived in an area that after the mortgage crisis homes valued at 700,000 were selling for 450,000. :shock: It's better today after 7 long years, but it's not back. If you bought your house in that area for 700K in '05 I doubt you would get over 600K for it today. That's a long time to wait if you need the money. Bottom line is that real estate is an investment like anything else. It can go up and down. If you can't afford to wait (say you have to move for a job), you might be SOL.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by The Rube » Thu Mar 26 11:14 pm

I will say reading all this is why I DON'T own a house. Not only all the financials, but also the maintenance that comes with it, that many people forget. Gonna need a lawnmower. Oh, wiring went out, gonna have to fix that. Fridge died. Need new insulation in the attic/whatever. Etc, etc. The little things about maintaining a house is what really kills it for me.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dryfly » Thu Mar 26 11:28 pm

streakygopher wrote:
dryfly wrote:
gopheritall wrote:I would also argue that earning equity in a home beats paying rent, even if you also pay PMI. Even the small amount earned during the initial payments. You get nothing back out of rent.


It depends. The house I live in has only gone up in price 3X over thirty years. This is a sluggish housing market. The stock market over that period has gone up WAY more than that over the same period. So a person on my block would have been wiser to have not accumulated equity - rented for less and taken the money and instead have invested it in the market.

The opposite was true if you lived in coastal California where house appreciation actually beat the stock market.

There are few 'easy answers' to any of this - just a lot of 'maybes' and 'it depends'.

I lived in an area that after the mortgage crisis homes valued at 700,000 were selling for 450,000. :shock: It's better today after 7 long years, but it's not back. If you bought your house in that area for 700K in '05 I doubt you would get over 600K for it today. That's a long time to wait if you need the money. Bottom line is that real estate is an investment like anything else. It can go up and down. If you can't afford to wait (say you have to move for a job), you might be SOL.


And you never know when you might have to move. As a kid my family did that three times in six years all of them NOT an option.

I read somewhere that houses in Las Vegas - nice houses too - lost more than 60% of their pre-bubble valuations after 2008. Most are now at or above those prices but only if the homeowner maintained them through the period. Tough to do and justify maintaining the place when unemployment was going to 15% and houses all around you were 50% underwater. The house there that were foreclosed and badly maintained many are still way underwater. Miami was even worse but has rebounded faster. But the mold houses there are still almost worthless.

Twin Cities had it rough but nothing like the Sunbelt did.

I refuse to look at a house as an 'investment'. They are places you live that cost money that some day you might [but are not certain to] get some of that cost back out. The biggest reason to buy is so you can do what you want when you live there but with association covenants that isn't even the case.

I am not 100% sure I would buy a house if I were young today - I would very carefully weigh all the pluses and minuses and individual circumstances of where I lived and where I might want to go next. There are more minuses today than when I first bought 35 years ago. Fewer pluses too.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by The Rube » Thu Mar 26 11:30 pm

My apt rent freezes after another 1.5 years. Obviously I'm sticking it out, so to speak. I like the place, and frozen rent? Yes please.

And the midwest is known for an even keel. We never rise to the tide, nor do we dip to the depths, when it comes to economy. We are middle of the road, through and through.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by MNGophers29 » Thu Mar 26 11:33 pm

Home ownership is not for everyone. I bought my first house when I was 21. I had a dog that I refused to get rid of and couldn't find a place to rent to me with it, so I just bought a house. I have always been a jack of all trades, master of none, so the maintenance and stuff like that didn't bother me. To me, it was way better than paying rent. Back then you could finance 100% of your home (80% of the sale price for your mortgage, 20% home equity loan to avoid PMI). I bought my first 4 houses that way. My first house, I paid $27,000 for, sold it 2 years later for $56,000 after 2 days on the market. My next house I bought for $107k and sold it 10 months later (relocation for work) for $126,000 after 1 day on the market. I have been lucky for sure. My 3rd house was a buyout for a relocation again in 2007 right when the market started to fall. I got lucky getting out of that one when I did. It sold 7 months later for $50k less than I got for it. Then I moved to Fargo and the housing market is not like anywhere else. Home values have never dropped and most recently there was a shortage and people were selling for $30k-$50k over market value. Just dumb. It has stabilized now, but a house down the street from me sold 2 years ago for $279k, then was sold 9 months later for $319k.

As for the 20% down mentality, while I understand where DX is coming from, I wholeheartedly DISAGREE with that. Its all about debt to income ratio and when you move around for work, you often don't have 20% to put down. On a $200,000 house, who has $40k laying around? Not many people. First time home owners might be a little different, but the blanket statement is a bit antiquated.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by The Rube » Thu Mar 26 11:38 pm

MNGophers29 wrote:Home ownership is not for everyone.


This. I don't want to deal with the home ownership stuff. I like to do whatever, whenever I want to do it. If I won the lottery, and bought a house (which I'd prob do) I'd hire people to maintain. I'm a touch more than half serious in the following, unless it's my job: If it's worth doing, it's worth paying someone else to do it.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Thu Mar 26 11:41 pm

Yeah our primary reason for wanting a house is to do what we want with it without having to ask or simply not being able to, as well as living near people but not WITH people (i.e. in duplex as we are now)--our neighbor below us PLAYS SAXOPHONE AT MIDNIGHT. It's things like that that make me just done with renting, not to mention having to move for whatever reason or not being sure if people are going to come through to fix things or deal with things. I'd rather spend the money to have someone do it for me or just do it myself than to rely on someone else to get it done in a rental. And that's all on top of the fact that I've just never had a rental that wowed me in terms of quality of the space. I don't mind having to pay for this or that that might happen occasionally, and I'm not too worried about valuation and whatnot, as job security for me isn't all that much of an issue.

And, to be sure, we don't have 20% down but we're considering it. Once I have an income (1-2 years), it won't be much, but it'll jump up after that, so the PMI won't really be a big deal.

The thing that I'm curious about is the "four times the median income" rule of thumb... Some of the places we're looking (e.g. Brooklyn Park) have nicer homes for what you pay, aren't TOO far away from the city, and are close to work for Mrs. Rowshkex... But they are definitely more than four times the median income.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by MNGophers29 » Thu Mar 26 11:43 pm

The Rube wrote:
MNGophers29 wrote:Home ownership is not for everyone.


This. I don't want to deal with the home ownership stuff. I like to do whatever, whenever I want to do it. If I won the lottery, and bought a house (which I'd prob do) I'd hire people to maintain. I'm a touch more than half serious in the following, unless it's my job: If it's worth doing, it's worth paying someone else to do it.

Yeah, obviously with where I work, I have access to all the know how and products I could want...sometime it is a bad thing.

When I got divorced, I lived in an apartment for a year. I enjoyed it, I found myself doing a lot of stuff I used to do before home ownership that I liked doing (ie reading, video games, the gym, etc). But, my one passion is wood working and I needed a shop to do it in so I needed a house. I also enjoy home remodeling so I wanted a fixer upper. I have paid for some things to be done for me (landscaping, my shop because I didn't have time, windows and carpeting). It is pretty sweet to go to work for the day and come home and it is all done!
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by The Rube » Thu Mar 26 11:44 pm

rowshkex wrote:Yeah our primary reason for wanting a house is to do what we want with it without having to ask or simply not being able to, as well as living near people but not WITH people (i.e. in duplex as we are now)--our neighbor below us PLAYS SAXOPHONE AT MIDNIGHT. It's things like that that make me just done with renting, not to mention having to move for whatever reason or not being sure if people are going to come through to fix things or deal with things. I'd rather spend the money to have someone do it for me or just do it myself than to rely on someone else to get it done in a rental. And that's all on top of the fact that I've just never had a rental that wowed me in terms of quality of the space. I don't mind having to pay for this or that that might happen occasionally, and I'm not too worried about valuation and whatnot, as job security for me isn't all that much of an issue.

I admit, I've been lucky in rentals. My complex is as quiet as a church mouse, and my past rentals have been, too. The mgmt is great, they are even starting to modernize the place (new carpet/deco/etc) to make it look all classy.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dryfly » Thu Mar 26 11:52 pm

MNGophers29 wrote:As for the 20% down mentality, while I understand where DX is coming from, I wholeheartedly DISAGREE with that. Its all about debt to income ratio


^THIS... the ability to service fixed cost obligations of which a mortgage is most people's largest obligation trumps all else. That 20% down everyone talks about is a cushion for the bank in case they need to foreclose and resell - covers a lot of their expected costs. Plus people are a lot less likely to 'mail in the keys' [lenders call this 'jingle mail'] when times are difficult if people have some skin in the game [20% is a psychological threshold it seems - below which walkaways are more likely]... but even if they scratch together 20% it really doesn't mean they can afford the house. Just means the bank is more likely to let them take the chance they can or can't.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dryfly » Fri Mar 27 12:10 am

rowshkex wrote:The thing that I'm curious about is the "four times the median income" rule of thumb... Some of the places we're looking (e.g. Brooklyn Park) have nicer homes for what you pay, aren't TOO far away from the city, and are close to work for Mrs. Rowshkex... But they are definitely more than four times the median income.


The question you have to ask then is... how long do we want to live here?

In general, in normal times... not bubble, not bust... a family can usually afford a house between two and three times their gross income. Rough guide. So if you buy a house in that range based on local median incomes it means about half the people in that area can at least afford the house [the median is mid-point of that distribution]. That means if you have to sell you at least have a market that can buy - numbers wise. But it doesn't mean they will - just means they can. As the price gets higher and higher fewer in that market can pay that price even if they like the place and would want to.

In reality a better measure is to understand the actual distributions of both property values and incomes. So you would want to know the relative ratios of housing availability say by quartiles... how many houses are priced to be 3 times first quartile... how many priced to be 3 times median... how many priced to be 3 times third quartile... etc. In most locations there are nowhere near enough housing to supply needs of the first quartile and below but there are tons of houses available in the third quartile or higher. Means plenty available for higher income people to buy but if you ever plan to sell a house in that range it can take awhile. Years sometimes.

So if you plan to live there a long time and not resell - not an issue. But if you plan to live there maybe only five years I would be more careful and make sure whatever you buy you can easily resell. Price needs to be part of that decisions process.

Good luck.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by MNGophers29 » Fri Mar 27 12:23 am

Agree. This works more for buying homes in a development or established neighborhood, the more cookie-cutter types. If you end up with a larger lot, a little further out with some land or a unique home, then it changes things for you. Then you either have a premium property (land) or you have a house that may appeal to less people, but when that right person sees it, they HAVE to have it at any cost.

The nice thing about buying a house is that your realtor should be able to do a market analysis for you and get some comparables in the area so you can see what other homes have sold recently for. You will also get this as part of your appraisal once you make an offer. If you are going to finance 95% of the buying price, then get a little protection from the bank if the appraisal comes in lower than the contract price. Back when the market was all haywire, they would just fudge the appraisal amount to fit the requested loan amount, thats a part of the reason people got so upside down on their loans.

There is a lot of stuff that goes into buying a house, don't let it overwhelm you because if it did, no one would buy a house. A good realtor and a good mortgage consultant will help you through most of the stuff and answer any questions.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Bertogliat » Fri Mar 27 5:50 am

I bought my house in 2006 at the peak of the market. My home is probably worth now what I owe on it. I can now afford a much nicer house and we are thinking of moving. Paying the closing costs on the current house, moving costs and paying 20% down would mean writing a check for nearly $100k. Hmmm, nope.

Having said that, I wished I had put more down when I bought the current house so I could manage a drop in the market. There was a point when the market was low and my company was talking of closing my site. A move would have meant a short sale of $60k+.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by fishingmn » Fri Mar 27 6:08 am

I have a fair share of knowledge about buying & selling homes. In addition to our primary residence I own 11 rental properties + I'm a realtor.

Definitely agree that 20% down shouldn't be the guide to buying. It's more about affordability and where you are at in life. Nothing wrong with an FHA loan and 3.5% down if you have the income to pay it comfortably and are ready for committing to be a home owner and live there for 4+ years.

Also, you asked about closing costs. Keep in mind that for first time home buyers well over half of them ask the seller to include closing costs (typically around 3% of the offer price). Basically, that means that you are going to pay more for the house & loan but have less out of pocket costs. To a seller it doesn't matter whether they get $145,000 or get $150,000 and pay $5,000 toward your closing costs as it nets them the same amount but for many buyers it is very helpful to have a larger loan and less out of pocket. These days it seems like more buyers have plenty of income to qualify for a loan but not necessarily as much saved and this helps with that.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dxmnkd316 » Fri Mar 27 6:58 am

dryfly wrote:
MNGophers29 wrote:As for the 20% down mentality, while I understand where DX is coming from, I wholeheartedly DISAGREE with that. Its all about debt to income ratio


^THIS... the ability to service fixed cost obligations of which a mortgage is most people's largest obligation trumps all else. That 20% down everyone talks about is a cushion for the bank in case they need to foreclose and resell - covers a lot of their expected costs. Plus people are a lot less likely to 'mail in the keys' [lenders call this 'jingle mail'] when times are difficult if people have some skin in the game [20% is a psychological threshold it seems - below which walkaways are more likely]... but even if they scratch together 20% it really doesn't mean they can afford the house. Just means the bank is more likely to let them take the chance they can or can't.


I never said that 20% down was the only measure. Not sure where you managed to get that idea.

An FHA mortgage and PMI can be substantially more expensive than a conventional. Not just a few bucks more a month.

And as I remember it, if you get an FHA loan, you can't remove pmi just by building equity. You have to make a certain number of payments before you can get it without refinancing.

This site seems to back that up.
http://blog.credit.com/2014/10/this-mor ... ary-98077/

And PMI is not cheap.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by g-manpuck » Fri Mar 27 7:04 am

I got lucky with my house that I bought last year in that the sellers were a couple in the midst of a crappy divorce who wanted to dump the house right meow. So like fishingmn just said I got a FHA loan with the reasonable down payment and the sellers paid the closing costs. The sellers took it in the pants because when I first looked at the house they had it listed for $169,000...8 months later they lowered it to $147,500 and I got the deal done for $143,000 with them paying the closing costs. I realize that if I would have saved up more for a house my payment would be less but I probably wouldn't be in as nice of a house as I now have right now. Each individual has to evaluate what they want to spend and how much they want to save up for a down payment before they "really" start looking. The reason we pulled the trigger earlier than saving up more was that our townhouse apartment complex was in the midst of renovating so rent was going to start climbing fast. If I would have stayed in the apartment I would be paying the same amount of money that I pay for my house per month at that apartment and I would have HALF the square footage of living space. The one downfall in my mortgage though is the PMI but considering the deal I got for the house I hope to be able to get the equity built up faster to work my way to having the PMI dropped.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by SouthTexGopher » Fri Mar 27 7:06 am

A couple of thoughts...

- We've purchased three houses over the years and we've never put 20% down, as we've always used my VA benefits and USAA

- Your closing costs and closing methods vary widely from state to state (there are several GPLers who don't live in Minnesota). In North Carolina, we had pretty low closing costs and the closing was handled at a real estate attorney's office. Here in Texas, our costs were much higher and everything was handled at a title company.

It pays to research the process specific to your area in advance - especially if you're moving from one state to another and your company is funding that move. The sale of our house in NC was delayed by quite a bit due to my Texas employer's inability to understand the nuances of NC real estate transactions.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by dxmnkd316 » Fri Mar 27 7:25 am

Shop around for loans. It won't hurt your credit score if multiple lenders pull you credit in a short amount of time. I knew I was going to get the best rates and just compared online rates posted. I think I ended up 1/8th below that day's published rate.

Amazingly, Wells Fargo had the best rates around for me. Financing with then also just about guarantees your mortgage will always be with them. Smaller lenders buy and sell loans all the time. I've heard of people paying three or more different lenders in the first year of their mortgage. Too much hassle for me. Also, don't let personal opinions of banks get in the way of getting the best deal. Wells Fargo may harass you in their branches, but going elsewhere for that reason alone could cost you an 1/8th to 1/4 point.

Carefully evaluate points as well. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don't. Remember that the average life of a mortgage is seven years.

Expect to pay around 1% in origination fees to the bank for the loan. I was able to get this down to 0.5% with both my 30-year and my 15-year.

Know and understand the HUD-1. It's complicated at first glance but fairly straightforward once you understand it.

When it comes to earnest money, be aggressive If you know you want the house, are pre-approved , and know you won't back out.

Also, on a more personal note. Use mom. She knows what she's talking about when it comes to house hunting. She was instrumental in helping me find out what I liked, what I didn't, was able to help schedule visits, and helped me look for common housing pitfalls.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Greyeagle » Fri Mar 27 7:47 am

We are still in our first home - purchased in 1992 and have refinanced several times. We were excited at the time of purchase to get 8% - when we were first looking I believe the rates were at least 10%. :shock: My how times have changed.

Best part was using equity (and some stock we sold) helped us purchase a lake cabin. :good2:
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by george » Fri Mar 27 7:48 am

dxmnkd316 wrote:I never said that 20% down was the only measure. Not sure where you managed to get that idea.


Maybe from this?
I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home.


For me personally, I would listen to the guys who have bought and sold multiple homes for guidance, not me who's only bought a couple, nor dx who's only bought one and sold none.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by fishingmn » Fri Mar 27 7:48 am

dxmnkd316 wrote:Shop around for loans. It won't hurt your credit score if multiple lenders pull you credit in a short amount of time. I knew I was going to get the best rates and just compared online rates posted. I think I ended up 1/8th below that day's published rate.


Agree to shop around with multiple lenders. Keep in mind though that the online rates are just one part to consider. You really need to get a detailed Good Faith Estimate to compare apples to apples.

dxmnkd316 wrote:Amazingly, Wells Fargo had the best rates around for me. Financing with then also just about guarantees your mortgage will always be with them. Smaller lenders buy and sell loans all the time. I've heard of people paying three or more different lenders in the first year of their mortgage. Too much hassle for me. Also, don't let personal opinions of banks get in the way of getting the best deal. Wells Fargo may harass you in their branches, but going elsewhere for that reason alone could cost you an 1/8th to 1/4 point.


Not a huge fan of Wells Fargo so glad you had good luck. In my time as a realtor almost every bad loan deal I've dealt with was Wells Fargo related

dxmnkd316 wrote:Know and understand the HUD-1. It's complicated at first glance but fairly straightforward once you understand it.


One thing that will help is that in August this year there is a completely new process that lenders and title companies will have to follow with regards to educating consumers about their Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1. From what I've seen it will be much more straight forward to tell people what the costs are that they are paying for.

dxmnkd316 wrote:When it comes to earnest money, be aggressive If you know you want the house, are pre-approved , and know you won't back out.


In my experience earnest money isn't all that important to most sellers unless they are a bank dealing with an investor. Every buyer has to be pre-approved to submit an offer and really the seller is more concerned about the net sales price and other terms like closing date. Just go with 1% for earnest money and that should be fine and actually many sellers might take less since most listing agents don't push this point too hard.

dxmnkd316 wrote:Also, on a more personal note. Use mom. She knows what she's talking about when it comes to house hunting. She was instrumental in helping me find out what I liked, what I didn't, was able to help schedule visits, and helped me look for common housing pitfalls.


In most cases having a trusted adviser (like a parent) along to help with the process is a good thing. I have seen a couple cases where the parents really didn't help the process.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by g-manpuck » Fri Mar 27 7:51 am

I have to agree with DX about Wells Fargo, banking with them sucks like walking into a Buckle store in the mall but they do well in the mortgage department. They beat other lenders I looked at handily and the process was pretty easy...plus also like DX said they keep their customers instead of selling them off. I hated that part when I had my house in Iowa, I lived in the house for 6 years and had 4 different mortgage companies own my loan.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Composer » Fri Mar 27 8:01 am

DX--I read your statement the same way. It reads as a very strong statement of principle--
"I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home."
when in fact, the latter part of the statement isn't even true. To save that much, you essentially have to make a house payment to yourself for years, while also paying rent, now demonstrating that you can afford a HIGHER payment, i.e. a bigger mortgage, than you saved 20% for.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Kelor » Fri Mar 27 8:20 am

The positive remarks about Wells Fargo could knock me over with a feather. I've heard of two very specific horror stories from my brother and my neighbor. When searching for another property about 5 years ago, our realtor of course inquired about referring us to his mortgage guy. After telling him I had my own relationships, he said almost verbatim "Just stay away from Wells Fargo".

On the financial advice side, all I can say is buy a house that you truly TRULY think you can live in for 15 years or longer. That really means you need to consider all family situations before purchasing. You could look up and down every street in the country and note that those people that move often AND purchase rarely have a pot to piss in. There is definitely a correlation. Same goes for refinancing. In nearly every situation, refinancing is a horrible idea.

When we bought our home, I stretched big to get to the location and size home I wanted. 20 years later we are still here and it's 100% paid for (as is the cabin). There's not many 46 year olds that can make that claim, and my life has much less stress because of it. We have bought some real estate investments along the way, but home never moved. Back when we were scraping along, the mortgage just felt smaller and smaller each passing year.

Lastly, there are lots of study's on McMansions going the way of the dodo bird. As cool as they seem to be, don't do it. At a point, the bigger the house, the bigger the stress. The older you get, reducing stress matters.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Kelor » Fri Mar 27 8:29 am

If there are school considerations, think about buying on the opposite side of a block that is in the school district you want. My kids all went to the school we wanted them to go to (open enrollment), but our taxes were only 2/3rds of our neighbors behind us. That saved us tens of thousands. Seriously.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 8:32 am

Here is my advice.

Don't trust home inspectors. They miss a ton of stuff. I keep finding things in my house my inspector should have found. Don't sweat the little things like a leaking faucet. It's the expensive things that get you.

When buying a house sign the agreement to force arbitration. Not doing this thinking we wanted the right to sue if we found anything is screwing me over. Long story. (If anyone knows a good structural engineer please pm me)

Get pre approved and shop around for loans. If your credit is good there are some interesting things out there. We were going the traineeship road with PMI last time until we were offered a deal to pay PMI upfront once and not monthly. Long story short it cost us an extra 5 dollars a month more than the payment without PMI but will be overt the full 30 year loan. The loan officer was amazed this worked out that way. Moral of the story is always ask for a better deal.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 8:36 am

Kelor wrote:If there are school considerations, think about buying on the opposite side of a block that is in the school district you want. My kids all went to the school we wanted them to go to (open enrollment), but our taxes were only 2/3rds of our neighbors behind us. That saved us tens of thousands. Seriously.

Don't count this. Inner ring metro schools are getting more and more crowded. Open enrollment is every year. We have friends who have had it denied recently Even though the kids went to the school previously.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Fri Mar 27 8:39 am

Composer wrote:DX--I read your statement the same way. It reads as a very strong statement of principle--
"I still stand firmly behind the principle that if you can't afford 20%, you can't afford the home."
when in fact, the latter part of the statement isn't even true. To save that much, you essentially have to make a house payment to yourself for years, while also paying rent, now demonstrating that you can afford a HIGHER payment, i.e. a bigger mortgage, than you saved 20% for.


That's how I feel about it--I won't really have 20% down by the time we would likely want to buy, but we'd probably be relatively close. The PMI is only about $75-100 per month, which isn't terrible, and by the time my income jumps (as expected), it'll be no problem.

How do you get rid of PMI? Refinance? Can you put a clause in the loan terms that say the PMI goes away after X happens?
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 8:44 am

rowshkex wrote:
How do you get rid of PMI? Refinance? Can you put a clause in the loan terms that say the PMI goes away after X happens?

If it's an fha loan you can't get rid of pmi so you would have to refi. If it's a conventional loan it will drop off automatically when the original loan to value ratio drops below 80%. This can by paying down the loan or by reapprasial if the house goes up in value.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Fri Mar 27 8:45 am

MNGophers29 wrote:Agree. This works more for buying homes in a development or established neighborhood, the more cookie-cutter types. If you end up with a larger lot, a little further out with some land or a unique home, then it changes things for you. Then you either have a premium property (land) or you have a house that may appeal to less people, but when that right person sees it, they HAVE to have it at any cost.

The nice thing about buying a house is that your realtor should be able to do a market analysis for you and get some comparables in the area so you can see what other homes have sold recently for. You will also get this as part of your appraisal once you make an offer. If you are going to finance 95% of the buying price, then get a little protection from the bank if the appraisal comes in lower than the contract price. Back when the market was all haywire, they would just fudge the appraisal amount to fit the requested loan amount, thats a part of the reason people got so upside down on their loans.

There is a lot of stuff that goes into buying a house, don't let it overwhelm you because if it did, no one would buy a house. A good realtor and a good mortgage consultant will help you through most of the stuff and answer any questions.


That's the kind of stuff that makes me more confident--I would hope a realtor can help me do some of that work.

I'm definitely more excited about learning about the process rather than overwhelmed.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 8:46 am

Do you have a raptor yet? If not I highly recommend the one we used.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopherguy06 » Fri Mar 27 8:46 am

Home ownership is not for everyone, especially if you are thinking you will be mobile. Buying and selling in short term, unless you think the market will spike is not a great plan.

I wanted my own place and hated living with roomies. I bought a condo because I didn't want to deal with maintaining it as I was traveling 4 days a week for work. I didn't want to shovel or mow the lawn, etc. and was easier to pay someone to do so. Plus, I got a great deal on a place downtown that is right on the river and close to everything. When I got married we moved to a townhouse in NE and perfect for the foreseeable future.

Also, strongly consider a 15 year mortgage. In the long run, you save on interest, may get a lower rate and the way I look at it, if your income is going to grow (through promotions, inheritance, getting married), then it is a smart move. While it may be hard at first to make the larger payment, your income growth will make it easier and likely in 5-7 years, you are half done and almost fully paid off.

Also, I read somewhere on a 30 year mortgage, if over the year, you pay one more payment than the 12 (13 instead of 12), it cuts your payoff from 30 to like 23-24 years or about 7 years.

Another great option is bi-weekly payments, since most get paid bi-weekly, easier to budget rather than one lump sum each month and same principal as before, where you are paying more off than the normal 12 pmts/year and you are allowing less interest in the month
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 8:51 am

Also remember that just because the loan is for 30 years you can pay it off sooner. Like I said before or credit was good enough that our rate was only .125 different between 30 and 15. We opted for 30 to have more flexibility in our payment. If something comes up we can pay the 30 year amount for a couple of months. Is more about cash flow.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Fri Mar 27 8:52 am

Kelor wrote:If there are school considerations, think about buying on the opposite side of a block that is in the school district you want. My kids all went to the school we wanted them to go to (open enrollment), but our taxes were only 2/3rds of our neighbors behind us. That saved us tens of thousands. Seriously.

There definitely are school considerations. The wife is a teacher so we'd probably open enroll in her district.

Are there maps or accessible information regarding taxes for cities around here?
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 8:54 am


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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Fri Mar 27 8:57 am

There's no way we could swing a 15-year at this point. If anything I can just do a 30-year and double my monthly payment later, right? Isn't the biggest difference between 30-year and shorter terms the difference in interest on the loan?
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 8:58 am

Yep. Lower rate for shorter term. Shorter term build equity faster.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by ScoobyDoo » Fri Mar 27 9:00 am

Home Ownership is a royal pain in the rear. Overall for me as an investment I don't think it's really panned out that great either. Still, I'd rather own then rent but the temptation to have it be the other way has crossed my mind many times.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by g-manpuck » Fri Mar 27 9:02 am

Orion wrote:Here is my advice.

Don't trust home inspectors. They miss a ton of stuff. I keep finding things in my house my inspector should have found. Don't sweat the little things like a leaking faucet. It's the expensive things that get you.

Word...I was pointing out to the inspector $h!t he missed or shrugged off. The biggest thing was when he told me that he wouldn't change the windows in my house because they are in good condition...really? I have old single hung windows that have the lead weights in the walls! Why WOULDN'T you change them out to get rid of the dead uninsulated space by each window! I told him that he was crazy for saying that because there is NO WAY that those old windows with the outer storm window is even close to efficient as a newer window is.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 9:03 am

ScoobyDoo wrote:Home Ownership is a royal pain in the rear. Overall for me as an investment I don't think it's really panned out that great either. Still, I'd rather own then rent but the temptation to have it be the other way has crossed my mind many times.

This. I consider it a lifestyle investment more than a financial one.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Fri Mar 27 9:08 am

Yeah I've never really thought about it as an "investment"--it's more about a place where I/we have control over how it's used, what happens to it, and what we have to deal with versus renting.

..And, of course, more space.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by team22tank » Fri Mar 27 9:15 am

If possible I would shoot for a 15 year versus a 30 year mortgage (or the lesser term as possible). If in the home for 5 years or so there will be some actual equity to go towards a new home in the future where a 30 year wouldn't provide much.

The one big benefit that I think home ownership provides is "free & clear" at the end of the tunnel!

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Orion » Fri Mar 27 9:16 am

Orion wrote:Do you have a raptor yet? If not I highly recommend the one we used.

Damn phone. Realtor.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by Chris83 » Fri Mar 27 9:23 am

Orion wrote:
Orion wrote:Do you have a raptor yet? If not I highly recommend the one we used.

Damn phone. Realtor.


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Re: Home Ownership

Post by ScoobyDoo » Fri Mar 27 9:24 am

team22tank wrote:If possible I would shoot for a 15 year versus a 30 year mortgage (or the lesser term as possible). If in the home for 5 years or so there will be some actual equity to go towards a new home in the future where a 30 year wouldn't provide much.

The one big benefit that I think home ownership provides is "free & clear" at the end of the tunnel!

You're never free and clear.

And the way they built or build most homes is on the cheap. So, the "Fix" projects are constantly coming up. The Roof. The outside depending on how that was done. They used cheap windows so now you're replacing that. Patio Doors don't last forever. Then, something springs a leak. Or, the basement fills with water after all the rain we had last year. Then the appliances need to be replaced. Painting, new carpeting. The overall flow drain in the tub detaches and there's no way to get at it because the wall on the other side of the tub is finished so you have to rip the wall out. Cheap tile in the tub area needs to be ripped out and replaced, etc. etc. etc. It never ends.
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Re: Home Ownership

Post by mjarz02 » Fri Mar 27 9:31 am

I am a recent first time home buyer, just purchased a place in Richfield in December. Depending on your income, there are some good deals for first time home buyers. We were able to qualify for a 30yr fixed with no PMI. There are income restrictions and you have to put at least 3-5% down. It is a conventional loan and you can find more info about it on the mnhosing.gov website. I didnt like the FHA loans because they had two types of PMI that you have to account for. The interest rates arent bad, but the two PMIs can really increase your monthly payment. Ask your mortgage banker and realtor plenty of questions and be sure to look at as many homes as possible. I think we looked at over 50 homes in about 1-2 months before we decided on one.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by HockeyBum » Fri Mar 27 9:32 am

dxmnkd316 wrote:Use mom. She knows what she's talking about when it comes to house hunting. She was instrumental in helping me find out what I liked, what I didn't, was able to help schedule visits, and helped me look for common housing pitfalls.


This was a huge double-edged sword when we were buying our home. I'm always open to an objective second opinion, so I leaned on my parents for advise. They certainly pointed out a few things that I never thought of previously, which was definitely helpful. However, after a while, I felt that I was buying a house for their wants/needs instead of my own. Some things that were important to her just weren't factors for me, and vice versa.

She also didn't seem to understand that things cost money to change or upgrade. It's easy to point out flaws when you're not the person who has to pay to change things. No house is perfect. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things you want in order to fit your budget.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopherguy06 » Fri Mar 27 9:35 am

rowshkex wrote:There's no way we could swing a 15-year at this point. If anything I can just do a 30-year and double my monthly payment later, right? Isn't the biggest difference between 30-year and shorter terms the difference in interest on the loan?

Yeah, it is a stretch, but the payment isn't double what a 30 year payment would be, but definitely more. Sometimes you may get a lower rate too, but overall a better option.

For example, if you got a 15 year with a 3.85 rate and a 30 year with a 4.0 rate, you would pay $1,464 vs. $955 and over the life of the loan, pay $63,590 vs. $143,739 in interest alone. Even in the first five years, you will be saving $5-6k in interest.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopherguy06 » Fri Mar 27 9:36 am

I psuedo bought mine as an investment. It was a 1 bed/1 bath foreclosure downtown which I got a great deal on and lived there for 5 years, basically about the same or cheaper than comparable rent in the area at the apartments downtown. Now I have a tenant in there and making money on the deal each month.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by team22tank » Fri Mar 27 9:40 am

ScoobyDoo wrote:
team22tank wrote:If possible I would shoot for a 15 year versus a 30 year mortgage (or the lesser term as possible). If in the home for 5 years or so there will be some actual equity to go towards a new home in the future where a 30 year wouldn't provide much.

The one big benefit that I think home ownership provides is "free & clear" at the end of the tunnel!

You're never free and clear.

And the way they built or build most homes is on the cheap. So, the "Fix" projects are constantly coming up. The Roof. The outside depending on how that was done. They used cheap windows so now you're replacing that. Patio Doors don't last forever. Then, something springs a leak. Or, the basement fills with water after all the rain we had last year. Then the appliances need to be replaced. Painting, new carpeting. The overall flow drain in the tub detaches and there's no way to get at it because the wall on the other side of the tub is finished so you have to rip the wall out. Cheap tile in the tub area needs to be ripped out and replaced, etc. etc. etc. It never ends.


Payment wise yes you can be but I get what you are saying (a few of those things I hope people are not paying in full straight out of pocket for!).

If you are paid in full that is still going to trump an occasional project or emergency versus never ending rent. And I am not knocking rent, just one factor that I personally like that is all.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gophsb2b » Fri Mar 27 9:53 am

rowshkex wrote:
Kelor wrote:If there are school considerations, think about buying on the opposite side of a block that is in the school district you want. My kids all went to the school we wanted them to go to (open enrollment), but our taxes were only 2/3rds of our neighbors behind us. That saved us tens of thousands. Seriously.

There definitely are school considerations. The wife is a teacher so we'd probably open enroll in her district.

Are there maps or accessible information regarding taxes for cities around here?


Beware of assuming you'll open enroll because your wife teaches in a district. We bought a house that would have cost us 150K more in Plymouth because my wife teaches in the Wayzata district and we knew we were going to open enroll there. 2 years after we moved in the market in our city absolutely busted and Wayzata closed it's open enrollment, even to teachers and staff.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by gopher_fan_in_sue_land » Fri Mar 27 9:55 am

Everyone has thoughts on home ownership, and many good points have been made on both sides. It is certainly an interesting topic for this forum, but I'll bite. As a young(er) person who has bought and sold a couple times (including building on a bare lot), and dealing with real estate transactions as part of my career, my takes are as follows:

1. Buying a home, much like buying a car, getting a dog, or having children, is a personal decision that may be right or wrong based on life circumstances and plans. There is no part of buying a home that applies universally. Every market is different, and there are always good buys and bad buys regardless of whether the market is at the top/bottom. With that said, I like buying vs. renting in most situations.

2. Buying a home the first time can be a daunting process with many surprises (unknown costs, tax benefits, etc.). As far as expenses of buying, there are a laundry list that can come in to play, but there are also a bunch of ways to defer or re-allocate those costs. Typically, a buyer will be responsible for loan origination fees and points, title insurance (a percentage of the purchase price - call it $400 per $100,000 roughly) or attorney's title opinion, home inspection costs, mortgage registry tax (.0023% of mortgage amount - slightly higher in some metro counties), and half of the closing agent fee and expenses and recording fees $46/document typically. A seller typically pays real estate commissions, deed prep, deed tax (.0033 of purchase price), half of closing agent fee and expenses. All told, "closing costs" will usually run 2-5% of the purchase price, but a buyer can often get many of these paid by negotiating with the seller.

The best advice I can give you is not to worry about "mastering" the steps in the process, but rather know your wants, understand and follow your financial limits, and then focus on working with good people you trust (banks/realtors/lawyers/etc.) as the process really will take care of itself to a great extent.

3. I believe that now is good time to buy. Interest rates are near historical lows. Housing markets seem to be buyer friendly or neutral. If you can buy today when the market is "buyer friendly" at 4% or less, your buying power is much greater than if interest rates move to historical averages (or even close to average) even though you may be in a more secure financial position in two years.

4. If you buy a home, there are no guarantees. No guarantee you'll love it, but you can always sell. There are no guarantees that you will make money, but unlike renting, it is also not a guarantee that you'll never get any of your money back. In the end, the best part about owning a home, is that it is yours.

Good luck, and have fun looking.

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Re: Home Ownership

Post by rowshkex » Fri Mar 27 10:15 am

gophsb2b wrote:
rowshkex wrote:
Kelor wrote:If there are school considerations, think about buying on the opposite side of a block that is in the school district you want. My kids all went to the school we wanted them to go to (open enrollment), but our taxes were only 2/3rds of our neighbors behind us. That saved us tens of thousands. Seriously.

There definitely are school considerations. The wife is a teacher so we'd probably open enroll in her district.

Are there maps or accessible information regarding taxes for cities around here?


Beware of assuming you'll open enroll because your wife teaches in a district. We bought a house that would have cost us 150K more in Plymouth because my wife teaches in the Wayzata district and we knew we were going to open enroll there. 2 years after we moved in the market in our city absolutely busted and Wayzata closed it's open enrollment, even to teachers and staff.


Her district apparently has a lock-in policy in which you don't apply for open enrollment after the first year--you're just put in the regular enrollment group.
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