On the Road to Homeownership: Another Chance

This is the first of 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 short 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.

It’s been quite a while since my wife and I have owned a home. For any of you who followed my real estate investor series earlier this year, you know that we own real estate — my family home of 48 years in Los Angeles, and a condo in San Diego where our son currently lives with a roommate while both of them are working on their post-graduate degrees.

But…we don’t own a HOME. So it’s our turn now to have another chance at homeownership.

Originally, when we first moved from Los Angeles to Orange County, we purposely made a trade-off, sacrificing homeownership for the ideal of bringing up the children in an area where there was a low crime rate, family-oriented and great school district. We found all that in south Orange County, an area where our salaries at the time did not afford us the ability to purchase a home back then.

But now with both kids having graduated from college, and one living on the east coast with the other on the west coast — our empty nest — along with our added income from the rental properties, finally allows us to pursue homeownership once again.

As has been all over the news, interest rates are at historic lows and we have taken advantage of that with our rental properties. But the rates should be even lower for 30-year fixed rate purchase money mortgages and I have the ability to borrow funds which is something that not every potential homebuyer can say nowadays.

Inventory is low in south Orange County, which is known for having some of the priciest real estate in the region. Meanwhile, foreclosures are in short supply. Bank-owned properties (REOs) are few and far between these days as is true in many markets around the country. Short sales, on the other hand, are gaining popularity, but trying to get one can land you in the middle of a bidding war.

Knowing this, I wanted a Realtor to represent us who has the pulse of the market (particularly distressed properties). For that reason I asked the president of the local investor’s club I am involved with (he is a broker and an investor/flipper) to be our Realtor.

So we’re ready to go. We have a Realtor who is sending me daily email alerts of new listings, and we’re using the same mortgage broker who got us good deals on our loans for the two rental properties.

Follow along as we go on our search for our piece of the American Dream in south Orange County. I have some good stories in store so stay tuned.

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

Also, here are some of the latest stories from the RealtyTrac newsroom that may be of interest to you:
Buying Foreclosure Bargains
Video Webinar: How the Election Will Impact REOs and Short Sales
Is It Time to End Foreclosures?

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