Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Budget Round One: From $231,250 to $275,000

My initial, "What I Can Afford" budget was a condominium up to $231,250. I based that budget on a cursory review on Zillow for 2 BR/2Ba condominiums in my area. There were a couple of apartment conversion units with upgraded interiors (i.e., granite countertops, stainless steel appliances) in the $229,000 - $230,000 price range. Poifect!

My agent sent me an updated MLS listing with a search criteria of 2+BR/2+Ba up to $235,000. I got 9 hits. The 2 condo conversion units were still on the market. Yipee!

Unfortunately, when I did a "drive-by," I quickly discovered why those units were so cheap... errrr.... I meant affordable. The units' balconies and windows face a major freeway. Semis and trucks drive through this freeway all day and all night. The noise pollution from the freeway is overwhelming. There's no way I can sleep at night. *Sigh*

Okay... Maybe if I increase my search criteria to $275,000? Yikes. That means I need to come up with a $55,000 down payment and my loan amount will be $220,000. My monthly mortgage payment will go from $890 to $1,066. I tell myself, "I can swing it! It's still less than my monthly rent!" (I'm conveniently ignoring property taxes and COA fees.) I instructed my agent to increase the search criteria.

I got a couple of more hits. There was one unit for $257,000. The MLS pictures were kind of dark and depressing. But the location is great, so nothing a little paint, extra lighting and some elbow grease can't cure, right?

The walk-through was scary... errrr... I meant enlightening. Everything from the common area to the living area screamed 70's kitsch. Imagine a generic Motel 8 structure with an age-worn Brady Bunch decor. The unit doorway had a tiki-like, wood panel embellishment. I like tikis well enough, but at Disneyland or Trader Vics. Not my home. And since the ugly tiki is in the common-area, I can't just rip it out.

Once inside, it was bright and spacious, but everything was soooo dated. The prior owner appeared to have started DIY removal of the acoustic (popcorn) ceiling in the kitchen. But they stopped a little ways into the living room area, probably saying, "F*#k it. This $#it is too much work." The fireplace had some weird, orange-ish psychedelic tiles above it. When I got close, the tiles had a picture of a flamenco dancer. Egads.

*Sigh* I'm coming to the realization that even in this economy, a 2BR/2Ba for <$275,000 will only get me a fixer-upper. If it's move-in ready, I have to be prepared to wear earplugs at all times while at home. I'm getting depressed...


Moving on up! said...

I haven't visited your blog in so long. Wow! The improvements in your finances are dramatically better. Nice work!
Moving on up!

graduatedlearning said...

Don't worry, just keep looking! It'd definitely frustrating, but you'll find a place eventually. I'm not sure if you should definitely go up in price, or just wait for something in your price range to come along.

I also feel like I haven't visited your blog in ages. Looking good!