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      Avatar for BiggerPiggyBankBiggerPiggyBank
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      Mel,

      Start by making a four column list: Musts, Likes, Neutral, &
      absolutely not! make blank copies to pass amongst those involved in
      the decision & have a family meeting to consolidate & discuss the
      entries. no sense wasting time on or falling in love with something
      only to find that 3/5 of the household would be miserable there.

      Next, take your monthly take home pay times .30 to see about what
      you can afford as a house payment including taxes & insurance. For
      instance, if (after taxes) you bring home $2,000 per month, $75k to
      $80k would put you right about $600 a month on a 30 year fixed 6.5%
      rate. Assuming you’ve saved up to put 20% down to avoid PMI, you’d
      want to limit your search to homes below $100k.

      If you don’t have
      20% down, you’re looking at paying an extra $75-100 per month for at
      least the first ten or so years so plan your payment accordingly.

      Next, find realtor that is willing to work with your research &
      represent you as a buyer. This won’t cost you anything as your agent
      will split the selling agent’s commision when you finally buy your
      home. (We used the seller’s realtor to buy our last house and
      overpaid around $10k because we were in too much of a hurry & too
      busy to shop around.) A good agent will be more interested in
      helping you meet your needs (the point at which your price & must
      list intersect) than selling you something in a hurry or steering
      you towards something more expensive.

      Take your master list with you to look at each home, and make
      detailed notes as you go. Go back to the ones you really like at
      least once before making an offer. If you have someone you trust as
      an objective observer, take that person back with you on your second
      visit.

      Make your offer contingent on a satisfactory inspection,
      appraisal & financing qualification.

      After your inspection, ask the seller to repair any large problems
      that affect the value of the property or discount the price
      accordingly, but be realistic about the small, nitpicky stuff. If
      you can fix a leaky faucet or repaint the bathroom, the seller’s
      good will is worth more to you than the time & money it will take to
      do it yourself. Remeber that you want the seller on your side if
      your financing takes an extra month or you find that you can only
      qualify for a couple of thousand less than the asking price.

      Above all, take your time, do your research, & make sure the place
      you buy will be a good fit for years to come.

      Blessings,
      Carla

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