By Mel Marzahl, April 8, 2019
By Mel Marzahl, April 8, 2019
When first time buyers Adina and Caitlin started their search they wanted a condo. They were tired of living in a rental where the landlord didn’t keep up with repairs. So, they thought the convenience of not having to maintain the exterior possibly having a gym would be great. Starting their search Adina and Caitlin really wanted to find something affordable and start building equity. Their plan was to eventually, in 5-10 years, buy the big family house they really wanted.
Many first time buyers have a similar story. They start out looking at condos because of the lower price. It makes sense at first, the low price, the ease of upkeep. It’s not until they talk with their agent and lender that they start factoring in the high cost of HOA dues and realize how the HOA costs affect their approval price. Once they realize the big impact those high HOAs have on their price, they consider widening their search to include other types of homes.
Financing Tip: Even condo listed at 280 may have a HOA payment of $400/month or so. This means a buyer putting roughly 5% down would need to be pre-approved for 360-375 to actually qualify to buy it.
This is predicament Adina and Caitlin found themselves in. They liked the idea of a condo for the ease of maintenance, but they realized they could pay the same amount monthly to buy a great starter home instead. When we opened up their search to include single family homes there were so many more options. In their price point some houses needed major repairs but they wanted something they could live in, and slowly fix up. A complete remodel is not in the cards for most first time buyers. We searched all over SE Portland and looked at every 2bd 700 sqft bungalow on the market, until this big, blue, beauty popped up!
They widened their search just a bit more. Including a few areas they hadn’t originally considered, like Lents. The house they found is a beautiful, 4bd, 3 story, neon blue farmhouse. It has a front porch made for a swing and summer evening hangouts. This house checked all their “must have” boxes, and more. The main floor was fixed up enough, they could move in, enjoy it but make changes slowly. It has a basement for an art studio, a big lot for gardening, and a whole upstairs level with two bedrooms, a sitting area, and space to add a bath and kitchenette.
Adina and Caitlin got everything they wanted 5-10 years from now, today. Their new house is a beauty that lives well for them in terms of style and financially. They plan to rent the private top level to travelling nurses for some help on the mortgage. After they start a family they’ll have room to grow for the kiddos. They will be the first to tell their friends to consider all their options when searching for a home. Because they know better than most that you might go from looking at 2bd condos in Multnomah Village or Lake Oswego, to 4bd farmhouses in Lents in a matter of a month or so.
CONGRATS on your first home Adina and Caitlin!