So this weekend we went to an open house. I know, right?! One minute I'm all "I hate this place" and the next I'm looking at real estate. To buy.
Well, let me back up here. I've known for a long time that it might make more sense to buy a place here since we'll be in Pittsburgh for the next 4.5-7 years, or however long it takes for D to finish his MA/PhD (my fingers are crossed for 4.5 years but let's be realistic here). My parents bought a house when they were in grad school and it turned out to be a good investment for them. They lived there while they were in school, sometimes with roommates when they needed extra cash, and then when they moved to Texas they got a company to take over the day-to-day management. They paid it off years ago and now just collect rent and have a second house to sell in case they ever need a huge hunk of money. But...home ownership is scary. Real scary (to me). And I don't love Pittsburgh and don't necessarily want a huge responsibility like a house to tether me to a place I don't plan to ever live again once D is done with school.
Still, in the interest of information-gathering, I went on a few websites and looked at house listings. First of all, Pittsburgh is really a pretty cheap place to buy a house, considering it is a modest-sized city and not the middle of nowhere. Second, interest rates are SO low right now. Third, it would be nice to live somewhere for more than one year, and to be able to paint and change things about the place. D is super handy and always just itching to build and improve things, which is not something we get to do in a rental property. So I found a pretty cute little bungalow in a nearby neighborhood and saw they were having an open house on Sunday from 1-4pm. It wasn't the house of our dreams but it WAS pretty cute. Then as we were driving around the neighborhood to check it out (it's an area we're not totally familiar with) we saw a sign for another open house, this one WAY out of our need/price range. We decided why not, let's see what $300,000 will buy you in Pittsburgh. The answer: a LOT of house. Seriously, two floors plus basement and finished attic, and detached 2-car garage. Huge.
So, we're not buying either of those houses, but we are going to slowly get to know the real estate market in Pittsburgh. We want to keep exploring new neighborhoods and going to open houses. There are, however, a few drawbacks:
1. We want to live in the city, as opposed to the 'burbs. The city? Is old. All of the houses we've even considered looking at are at least 100 years old. I know that owning an old house comes with a lot of headaches, and there are probably tons of issues I'm not even aware of.
2. We want to live fairly close to D's school and my work. Houses in those neighborhoods are not as reasonably priced because everyone wants to live there.
3. Since I just depleted my savings account paying off my loan, and because we both decided we wouldn't feel comfortable putting down less than 15-20%, it's looking like we won't have that cash on hand for a while. Unless we win the lottery or something (which would be difficult considering we don't play it!). So these are not immediate plans, these are "in the future" plans.
In conclusion: house buying is scary. Even thinking about house buying is scary. Do you guys have tips or advice? Books or websites I need to know about? Seriously, lay it on me. I need all the help I can get.