10 Bank Breaking Money Myths -- interesting article. I've heard of a lot of these lately, especially those about home ownership versus renting and the ability to deduct mortgage. It's only been recently through my own home-search that I've realized that those were myths in fact, and that renting is by far the better option for me. Also, the carrying a balance to maintain credit score? Amazing how many times I've heard that one as well. The only thing carrying a balance does for you is rack up the interest so that you're financing that Starbucks latte for years and years.
Interesting post on renting versus buying: Why We Rent. I came across the link at The Simple Dollar which is a "frugal" blog I check in with now and then. The NY Times also has another buy versus rent story today: As Home Prices Drop Low Enough, a Committed Renter Decides to Buy. I just find it interesting that after years of advocating home ownership as the Bestest Investment Ever, people are actually saying, "Hey, wait a minute..." I shall feel vindicated when I write my landlord a check on June 1.
I've seen more than 50 houses now and my choices still haven't clarified themselves, but I'm getting closer to narrowing in what I like.
* First, is it worth buying new construction in a new neighborhood that's surrounding by shady surroundings? I drove through there last night and was happy to see a public library right across the street from the new subdivision and I was reassured by the presence of a gigantic FBI building and two churches. But other than that, the street's main residences are crumbling apartment complexes. I looked up the rent on them and they're $400/unit. There are no nearby convenience stores that don't have bars on the window. I realize that if I buy in this neighborhood, which has everything I want except location, I will pretty much hang out in my house because there is nowhere -- not even a McDonald's -- to eat or go that looks remotely safe.
* Second, is it worth buying a fixer upper in an older, established neighborhood that is becoming gentrified? Lots of new construction, lots of renovations and remodeling in this neighborhood and a new Starbucks in process of being built. In this case, I'd be buying a hobby not a house, and it could turn into a money pit. But at the same time, I'd be in a house that will appreciate probably at a better and faster rate than the new construction.
I have pretty much ruled out townhomes, and anything that looks too contemporary. I like Victorian architecture, but barring that, I don't want anything that looks too dated on the outside or that appeals to very specific tastes, such as metal exteriors.
* Number of bedrooms -- 2 to 4 and in one occasion, 5. What the heck am I going to do with more than 2 bedrooms? But here in Sweat Sock City, more is often cheaper.
* Verticality -- How high do I want to live? In Sweat Sock City, developers like to build up, not out. Yesterday I visited a 4-story house. I'm in good shape, but good grief. By the time I got to the fourth story, I was done for.
* Yard -- How much land do I want? At one point, I wanted a lot of land, and another point, I was all about paving it over with cement. Who needs greenery?
* Granite! -- And other such options. Tile in the kitchen? Laminate backsplashes (ugh!), hardwood floors, Berber carpet, spindle railings, art niches; these are the things I've been thinking about. Only a couple are a must have for me.
* Proximity to things I like -- This is a big thing. For a while, I was reluctant to look outside of my current neighborhood, which is young and professional and up coming and hip and all those things. I found the house I like just a few miles outside of where I wanted to buy a house and for quite a bit less.