I currently live in an apartment. Tiny little one bedroom thing. Still have most of my crappy college furniture. Probably about 450 sqft.
Honestly, it pretty much suits me. Right now I'm living alone and really don't have a whole lot of stuff. But with the housing market so severely depressed, I've begun looking to buy a condo or townhouse - not so much because I need a nicer place to live (though I wouldn't mind it) but as an investment of sorts. I'm not gonna try to do anything unrealistic like flip the thing in two years, but if I start building up some value - that could help me in the future.
So I'm looking at some basic 2 bedroom 1 bath condos. Some decent, some crappy. There are hundreds of properties in my area and price range (far northwest Chicago burbs). I've sort of set my comfortable upper limit at $150k. My credit is great so I'm pre-approved for this much (actually a bit more). My business manager hears of this. Says, "Hey, come look at my place. I've been moved out for over a year and I really need to sell it."
I laugh. "I know you paid like $210k for that thing (4 years ago). That's pretty far out of my range."
"Well, what is your range?"
"Maybe...I dunno, $130-150k?"
He pauses. "I'd consider that"
So he takes me to see it today. To my eyes, it's huge. About 1700 sqft, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, fireplace, wood floors. Nice place. Good neighborhood, but looks a bit empty. Needs a bit of paint but in decent condition. Empty because he's been living in Florida for the past two years (and it's been on the market at least that long). It's about 9 miles closer to work for me.
What he tells me - he still owes about $150k on the thing. Has more or less accepted it as a loss. His main home is in Florida so he's not out a living space or anything, he just wants to get out of the mortgage.
Plus he figures if he sells it to me he can drop the real estate agent and save maybe 6% on the sale.
Two other units in the development started listing at around $200k. Both are down around $170k right now.
$150k is at my self-imposed upper limit. But I'm pretty sure I could swing it. And if the thing sold 4 years ago for $210k - man, it's hard to ignore the thought that I'd be getting a steal. That of course assumes that in five years or so the housing market will have recovered.
My other concern - would it be weird moving into this huge (to my eyes) place with only a small amount of crappy college furniture? Literally: I could put everything I own just into the living room. Bed, dresser, nightstand, Kitchen Table, 4 chairs, supremely crappy couch, TV, a couple of lamps. It would probably take me years to properly furnish this place and not feel like a squatting hobo.
Plus I suspect the neighbors are bit...older and wealthier than I am. I saw a few walking their dogs and whatnot. Mostly older. Not like I'm some crazed punk, but I am still in my mid-20s.
I dunno - there's plenty of places around to buy. Most of what I've been looking at has been in the 1100 SQFT range, and would probably "fit" my stuff and demographic better. But these smaller properties are all listed at $130-$150k as well.
Any advice? On the "opportunity" or in general?