Cure me of my housing ignorance

Hey folks,

Not sure if I’m posting in the right thread but here goes. Me and the SO are very serious about buying a house by next year. Mainly we want something that will be the most financially prudent; we are mostly concerned with affordability, a low crime rate, and access do DC. There are so many options in the DC MD VA area it is straining my feeble mind. We are open to lots of options. We have looked into many things such as a fixer upper, foreclosures, duplexes that would allow us to receive rental income.

Lately I have been looking into more obscure options as well - specifically, buying land and building a steel frame home or building a container home or tiny house. Is anyone familiar with these options and the zoning difficulties involved?

Also, does anyone here have experience with buying foreclosures? What are some good sources of information on analyzing housing trends?

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

I live in southern Maryland, and I know local realtors here offer periodic seminars for first-time home buyers. See if you can find one of those near you - I bet it’ll help answer your questions and make you aware of things you hadn’t considered.

I would say that first you should decided on what you mean by “access to DC”. I live in Culpeper, VA, which is about 60 miles away. I know several people who live out here and commute to DC daily, but obviously they have a very long commute. The upside is that prices out here are extremely low compared to the inner suburbs. You could get 3,000 square feet and a large property for about $250,000. In Fairfax or Loudoun Counties you would pay twice the price for half the space. Front Royal and Winchester are other towns in Virginia where DC commuters can live. There are plenty of other small towns as well, and there are even rural properties within striking distance of DC if you’re interested.

Regarding foreclosures, I have friends who bought a large foreclosure, also in Culpeper County. They have been renovating it for the past three years and are nowhere close to done. It had all kinds of problems, such as the fact that someone had broken in and stolen all the cooper wire.

Regardless of whether or not you get a foreclosure, here’s an important piece of advise: if you work with a realtor, do not use the inspector that the realtor recommends. Hire a different inspector.

Figure out how much you can afford to spend. Figure out how you plan to commute (car vs. subway) and how long a commute you’re willing to do. Figure out whether you want a single-family home or a townhouse/rowhouse. That will help you narrow down where to look.

If you’re willing and able to rehab a rundown home yourself, that will increase your available options. If you’ll have to hire contractors, then the cost advantage of a fixer-upper may wash out. Foreclosures will very often-be fixer-uppers, and they take more time than a regular home purchase.

Building something unusual limits your resale value. There’s so little available land around the DC area, too, that your options location-wise will be very limited.

Having a tenant can be good income but also can require a lot of time and work.

You might have problems getting a construction loan / mortgage if you want to build something too unconventional also.

I’ve been through the Culpeper area, its very nice, but it is outside of any commuter rail station so unfortunately it is too far away. I was leaning towards areas such as Bowie, Oxon hill, Suitland, Seabrook. All of these areas are metro or Marc accessible. Bowie has fairly affordable land, so in that area a steel kit home might work. Steel kit homes don’t seem overly exotic (unlike container or tiny house), I just have know idea what the total cost ends up running - the kits are set prices, but then there is all the siding, insulation etc. to consider.


Nm? Forgive me, but I am not sure what it means.

No message.

Or “never mind”.

Why would someone write a message just to say no message? Is it meant to be snarky? It seems rather rude. I never participated in message boards before, so maybe there are things I don’t get.

Sometimes someone starts to say something, then changes his/her mind, but cannot delete the reply altogether, so changes to nm for never mind. Not meant to be rude.

Thanks for the clarification:)

Or posts in the whole wrong thread and realizes it after you’ve hit “reply.” Welcome to the boards, Mr. Nylock. :slight_smile:

Going to a first-tme home buyer seminar sounds like a very good idea. Foreclosures sound like you can get a very good price, but my understanding is that they can take for-frickin’-ever for them to finalize.

You could buy land and put a manufactured home on it - they are surprisingly nice these days.

I’m in the mortgage business. Please keep in mind buying a house is stressful. Buying a house the first time is even more stressful. Buying a foreclosure is crazy stressful.
You aren’t dealing with a person, you are dealing with a bank while also dealing with the bank who is doing your loan. Many times a bank won’t give you the loan because the house needs so many repairs that there are too many risks for them.

If you think you can handle it get yourself a great realtor who is an expert at foreclosures and don’t try to buy anything that needs a lot of work and has health and safety issues like mold.

Good luck to you.

It certainly is stressful, more for my SO than me - I’m more stressed out about the amount of money we spend on rent every month that could be used to build equity. Finding a good realtor has not been as easy as I would have thought, we have been casually shopping around for a good realtor on and off for a few months, not much success so far though. Do you have any recommendations on how to find a good realtor? Also, do you have any general guidelines that help determine if any area has long term price stability?

But the advantage of rent is that you’re not responsible when the roof or the dishwasher or whatever needs to be replaced. And it your job change, moving might be easier than if you buy a house. At least this is what I tell myself after having rented for about 25 years.

There really aren’t any areas in the US that have long term stability after the housing collapse in 08. It’s slowly creeping up bit by bit.
I think this is a good time to buy because there’s no where for prices to go but up at this point. There are so many controls in place to prevent artificial housing value inflation.

You might try looking at the national association of realtors website. Technically every one else is a real estate agent but they can’t claim to be a “realtor” unless they meet the NAOR standards.

I believe that’s REALTOR![sup]TM[/SUP] :smiley:

amorali-Why are foreclosures more stressful? I too am real estate ignorant.