Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Buying Real Estate

This is the best time in a long time to buy real estate. If you can afford it, the time may be now. If you can't afford it save up because it seems more deals are coming. As I've written here before, I'm looking for a retirement home in Florida. Right now I'm looking only on the internet. In a few months I will be flying down to look at actual properties. What I will be looking for is someplace clean and safe. I want an apartment. Low maintenanace is important. I will want to talk with the super and see what kind of person he is. I will also try to chat up the residents for their take. We will park outside the building and watch the traffic. What's it like on a Saturday night? That sort of thing. I will buy the best apartment in the most convenient location for the least amount of money. I will have a budget and I will stick to it. The realtor will not be very happy with me because I won't be spending big money. With any luck this will be a cash deal. I will ask the Board pointed questions about the roof and any upcoming assessments. I will look at the building to see if minor maintenence issues are being addressed. Little things can become big things if left unattended.
My husband prefers to buy a house. If we go that route, things will be more complex. We will need a home inspection, though that is not a guarantee that something isn't terribly wrong. But in my experience what gets missed is minor and remediable. Then we will check out the neighborhood. We will be looking for pride of ownership. Neat well kept yards with flowers, painted and well maintained houses are important. Though neighborhoods do turn around. A few years ago, we moved into a house and started fixing soon everyone down the block followed suit. But I would rather join a trend than start one. Although I could probably buy something pricier and pay it off before I need to move into it. I plan to avoid getting in too deep. If I can't afford what I want this year, I will wait.
Look for that diamond in the rough. I got a great deal on the last house I bought because it wasn't showing well. The house was cluttered and needed new flooring in the entrance. The sink in the bath was cracked. But we knew how little it would cost to replace thes things. Also the kitchen looked shabby. Sometimes you have to have a vivid imaginaton when buying real estate. But stick to the cosmetic fixes. New paint and new flooring. I stay away from structural changes. Even a kitchen can be redone on the cheap, if you know how. Buy property in a town that has some jobs or at least jobs nearby. The town I'm looking at in Florida is near a major city and has a couple of new museums so it will attract tourists. It's okay to be poor in a rich neighborhood. It's not okay to be poor in a poor neighborhood. So always buy the worst house on the best block.

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