The House Hunt

6 05 2008

Trying to buy a house is like trying to balance a whole lot of spinning plates on sticks, only without the sticks. Or that’s how it is for us, anyway.

1. Are low income
2. Have credit issues (my credit is actually OK, The Husband has, like, zero credit for some reason)
3. Are low income

With The Husband’s income and our credit situation, we qualify for the FHA loan (mind you, we haven’t applied yet) but only up to $150,000. Go ahead, laugh. We do. I mean, in some places that will buy you a freaking mansion, yes. But here, it will buy you a trashy converted apartment with no actual parking space.

But that’s OK because there are GRANTS! Various areas of the county will give you MONEY to move there. The catch? It varies. The City of El Cajon will give you up to $200,000 towards a house, but you have to promise not to move for only 45 years. Oh, sorry, should I have told you to sit down for that one? I mean, really. Who even knows if El Cajon will still exist in 45 years??

Most are more reasonable – between 7-15 years. In some cases the City will share your equity until the time period is over. In other cases, you have to pay interest on the grant if you move out before the time period is over. Sometimes you share equity AND pay interest.

In some cases I would be OK with that. My town? Hells yeah. I’d promise to live here for 45 years if I had to. But many other people agree, so there is only one grant program available here and the way it works is awkward and, oddly, drops our limit so low that even with the grant, it’s $10,000 less than we qualify for with FHA alone. Pft.

So we have many different options to try now and I can’t even begin to know which direction we should head.

1. We can try for a condo without using a grant program. Stay there for a couple years until the market recovers and we can sell and make a sweet profit and buy a nice house in our town which we love.
The catch? There ARE no condos in my town with reasonable HOA fees (cause I am SO not paying $300/month thankyouverymuch) that are FHA approved. *bangs head on wall*

2. There is one grant which is for unincorporated areas of the county which will give you up to $80,000 for a term of 15 years. I can’t remember for sure, but I do not think they share equity and the interest rate is reasonable. There is a little area just north of my town (which is quite ghetto but I adore it) that happens to be unincorporated. I am not sure if this are will quality, though, because it is run by the nearest City (i.e. City cops instead of sherrifs, etc). But ASSUMING is qualifies and ASSUMING we would be elligible and ASSUMING we could get the full amount, that would put us at $230,000 for a house in that area. it’s not our town, but it is close and we love it. Another plus is that we could get goats or chickens and the lots are usually generous. But there is the 15 year thing.

3. My dad is willing to cosign for us. So we could find a place under $200,000 (my personal limit) or add a grant to it somewhere else in the county. But getting a grant will tie us into a 15-year credit marriage and I am not sure I am ready for that commitment. Not getting a grant seriously limits our choices.


It seems every direction I turn, a door is slammed, but a small window is opened and if I can get a stool and crawl in it will be OK. But I have to find the stool and figure out how to reach the window.

Oh, and another thing about these grants? Is that you can’t apply for them until AFTER you make an offer on a house. So, essentially, you make an offer, hope that A) there is funding for the specific grant hanging around at that moment in time and B) that you qualify or else everything falls flat. Which is where the balancing plates analogy comes in.

In other words, by the time I buy a house, I will need to move out of it and straight into the Friendly Neighborhood Sanitarium.

In the mean time, enjoy a tour through a house we actually did like. This one dropped $60,000 in a week (and thus is already in escrow) but – aside from needing a lot of superficial work, it seems like it could have made a nice home. Please excuse the graffiti and condom wrappers – seems someone threw themselves a party. (And no, that doesn’t concern me much. Not nearly as much as a house with tons of graffiti on the outside. I see a big different between a shitty neighborhood and some kids taking advantage of an abandoned house to party in, you know?)

Clicky here!




One response

7 05 2008

I wonder what it would take to establish some credit for you guys? Or how long? Just to give you guys more options. Of course, purchasing a house is one way to get a handle on credit! What a catch-22!

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