Sometimes it's a good idea to take a cue from the rest of the pack, and right now the pack is packin' up boxes and moving in to their own condos and homes.
Kate sez it's time to do the same.
I have a confession: I've long battled a bit of the Peter Pan Syndrome, a fear of growing up and handling the responsibilities that come with age. I grew out of the party scene a little later than most of my friends, and up until recently I've really been procrastinating on getting my finances in order.
But I'm taking some steps to stride into 30 with a bit of maturity and sense under my belt. About two months ago I enrolled in my company's 401K plan. I figure there's nobody but me to plan for my retirement, and there's no time like the present. I'm also chipping away at what debt I have (really, not that much considering I haven't used any credit cards in two years) and hope to be completely debt free in a year or so.
Now I want to buy property.
I've started sniffing around the neighborhoods and opportunities around the greater Cincinnati area, and am looking for a tricked-out condo. I am deciding against a house since I will be the only person living in said domicile and I'm really anti-yard work and absolutely don't want to be burdened with shoveling sidewalks or cleaning out gutters.
Already I've found a bunch of condos in a price range I think I can afford. Lots of em' have granite countertops and ceramic tile in the kitchen. Stainless steel appliances and fun stuff like shiny hardwood floors and exposed brick.
I'm starting at square zero and have a bunch of questions. How much can I really afford? What if I have crappy credit? What if I've got, like, four dollars in my savings account? Who should I meet with first: a realtor or a lender?
Am I crazy for even thinking I could afford/be lent enough cash to buy a condo?
So many questions. A good journalist can track down the answers...
You should meet with a lender before the realtor. You need to get pre-approved so you'll know how much you can spend for your new place. God, I sound like my mother!
I was going to say the same thing, Nat. K- just go to your bank and talk with one of the mangagers. That's what I did. You can even tell them you're new to the process and you need them to explain things. They should be happy to do that.
I'm doing the same thing too. I'm counting the days until my lease is up here at my apartment complex.
Here is some advice from a chick who not only works at a real estate office, but also one that is the same age as yourself and has dabbled in the bad credit department (damn college credit cards):
1. Know exactly what your FICO scores are. It's easier knowing them a head of time before going in and talking to a lender. At least you have some leverage. Once you know your FICO scores you know what kind of category you fall into and can shop around for lenders.
2. Get pre-approved by lender. Have letter of pre-approval before you consult realtor or make any offers. It will make things much easier.
3. Go shopping for houses! :-)
As far as condos go, I'll probably go the same route. Just remember you're going to have to pay an HOA fee to live there on top of your taxes and higher utility bill (because it's all you baby). The condos in the nicer areas of Cincy have condo fees of $180+ a month. Calculate this into what you can afford each month. I don't know what kind of salary you earn, but I certainly know I can't fork that out. HOA fees aren't usually published on main public sites. Instead, they keep those a secret until you inquire about it. Tricky bastards. lol
I'm not a realtor by the way. I just work at the office and play one on tv. ;-) We'll talk on Sept 2nd and I'll look up any HOA fees for you on the DL if you'd like. I'm looking forward to the night out. :-)
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