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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Got the Wanna Buy a House Blues

Well, we started over on the house hunting this weekend. With $420k to spend, what is really really out there?

I'm not going to buy unless we get three bedrooms. There's no sense in paying a great deal more a month to live somewhere we won't be comfortable. So, three bedrooms, or 2 plus a usable basement or something.

Nevertheless, we looked at a 2 bedroom this weekend, just to be sure. It was nice enough, but it's just a little sound wall separating us from 237 there. Actually, up on the second and third floors (where this unit is), there's not even a sound wall separating. Just lots of freeway noise. That's not really interesting.

So then we went on to look at some new condos done by KB. They're alright. They said they started in the "low $300's". Well, that's true, but a 3 bedroom is $478k. That's right out. And I can't really picture myself in a condo like that anyway.

So then we looked at a little house on Delmas. It's $432k. It's actually very nice inside, for the first half of the house. Then it sort of starts sloping. We walked down into the basement and pretty quickly figured out why. The back right corner of the foundation had a big crack. The back left corner was actually crumbling. Also, the place is sandwiched between 280 and the wrong side of the tracks. The upstairs had beautiful hard wood floors, and a gorgeous dining room with a fireplace and built in bookshelves. The kitchen was about ready to fall off the building. It's sad to say this was the most tempting property of the day.

We looked at several other properties. The one on Drake is right next to 280 and it's all rentals on the street. The two on Julio are both in awful condition, one having two large holes in the exterior wall by the kitchen. That's the one they want $449k for. It's got a nice little picket fence out front. Somehow that doesn't make up for the holes.

Folks have mentioned that there must be "starter homes" in my area. Y'know, what I would perceive as a "starter home" (or what I would've perceived as a starter home back when I lived in Sacramento) just doesn't work. Ultimately, to afford a starter home here, you have to have a combined household income of at least $160k a year. That's for a small, old, 1200 square foot home, not in an especially good school district, not in an especially good area. Just happened to drive past this one the other day. Kinda puts things in perspective.

So, right now, in every area (including East Palo Alto, where I won't live, but where I can't actually afford anything anyway) within a 40 minute commute of the office, there are exactly 10 properties for $420k or less with 3 bedrooms. All of them have extraordinary down sides. Things like being in the ghetto, butting up against a major freeway, being directly in the take off flight path of the San Jose Airport, or having to buy the million dollar motel on the same piece of land in order to purchse the house. I'm discouraged.

I guess I'm not gonna buy a house right now. Sticking all my cash in a savings account earning 2% interest. Maybe the market will come to its senses soon, but I'm sure not counting on it since I've been saying that for 3 full years now.


  • I was reading about your trouble finding an affordable place. This place is just down the street from me and might fit your price and requirements.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 2:00 PM  

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