[This is part of a series of posts on the home buying process I'm going thru. To see the full set, visit the house category archives.]
I headed over to Los Altos on Tuesday morning to meet my realtor for the first time. What I expected to be a 40 minute "get to know each other" meeting ended up being 2 hours and 15 minutes of productivity.
We started with the basics of home buying in California and Santa Clara County specifically. It's quite a bit different than, say, Ohio. The disclosure requirements for sellers are much higher here. Sellers bear a lot more of the expense here, but that varies on a county by county basis. If I were to move up the peninsula into San Mateo County, the tables are turned.
We talked a bit about the overall costs. One thing I've been trying to get a feel for is how much cash will out of my virtual pocket to cover all the miscellaneous fees, taxes, and other crap that comes along with acquiring a home and the loan to pay for it. She estimated about $5,000 - $6,000 in my price range.
Good to know.
After all that, we talked a bit more about what I wanted and how high I was willing to go on price. In the days leading up to our meeting, I'd been working with slightly modified version of Nelson's handy spreadsheet to gauge how much I want to spend. I'm using the post-tax-benefit monthly cost as my guide. I don't want to go too far over $2,000 per month.
Using that as a rough guide, that means I can go as a high as a $575,000 purchase price.
So what does half a million dollars (it sounds like a lot when I say it that way) buy in Mountain View or Sunnyvale?
To answer that question, we hopped on the computer and played with various searches against the MLS database. We spent a lot of time doing this, selecting properties, and discussing the good and bad points of each--based solely on the data in the listing. That was very helpful, because I got to learn about how proximity to major highways affects price (it gets a bit lower if you're near enough to hear or see the traffic) and how the various school districts affect home resale value. There's an interesting west to east decrease as you move from Los Altos to Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and so on. The school districts (in general) seem to go from very attractive to less attractive as you follow that progression.
Anyway, using searches in the $400,000 - $575,000 range, I learned that my dreams of a 3 bed, 2 bath condo or townhouse with at least 1,300 square feet and a 2 car attached garage is realistic.
I also brought home a ton of paperwork to look: info about my realtor, her company, typical expenses, tax schedules, sample home sale contracts, and so on. I have much to read.
Next up: My Thursday visit with the loan guy.
Posted by jzawodn at January 16, 2004 08:14 AM