On the Road to Homeownership: The Search Begins in Earnest

This is the third in  a series of occasional articles as my wife and I confront the challenges of searching for a home in a real estate marketplace with a low inventory level in costly south Orange County, California, hoping  to finally transition from years as somebody else’s tenants, to becoming participants in the American Dream of homeownership.

Armed with the knowledge of how much home we can afford without becoming house poor, and a pre-qualification letter in hand, I gave our Realtor the parameters of what type of home we were looking for (single level, 3&2 with a garage in around 1,500 to 1,800 square feet), the scope of the region in which we wanted to conduct our search, and the fact that we wanted to find a foreclosure bargain if possible.

The fact is, REOs appear to be practically an extinct species in Orange County these days, while short sales seem to be more abundant, so we are targeting them. However, with investors actively combing the county for whatever deals there are to be had, by the time the short sales hit the MLS there are either already multiple offers on them, or there is a pending sale. Those that remain need a LOT of rehab, and that’s money I don’t want to spend if I don’t have to since this is going to be our principal residence and not a flip.

Although our preference was not to have to pay homeowner association (HOA) dues if possible, we agreed that a 55 and over community was not out of the question either (especially since I’m not into becoming either my own gardener or pool man) and we qualify age wise.

As our Realtor continues to send me daily email blasts of qualifying properties from the MLS, we identify potential properties to go visit. The first one we saw was fixed up nicely enough, but it was very small, and it literally overlooked a local high school football field from the driveway.

Our search also uncovered, unfortunately, that one particular area we were interested in has practically no single level homes to purchase that would make a good home for us (although we saw a couple that would probably make decent rentals).

Next time, my wife and I start submitting offers, but we differ on just how much we feel the properties are worth. While we’re busy justifying our positions to each other, market trends are not working in our favor.

Search foreclosures and for-sale homes in Orange County on RealtyTrac NOW!

Check out some recent articles from the RealtyTrac newsroom:
Buying Foreclosures with Retirement Funds: 3 Strategies
On the Road to Homeownership: Another Chance
On the Road to Homeownership: Dealing With a Shortage of Supply


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