The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Pick-A-House Week Edition

In order to bring the hemming and hawing and indecisiveness to an end, my wife and I have agreed that by this coming Sunday night, we will have definitely selected a house that we will put a serious offer in on the following Monday morning. We have eleven house tours scheduled this week and we’re hoping to look at one or two in closer detail this Saturday or Sunday morning if need be. It’s going to be fun.

Top Five Hacks For Intelligent Investors While I haven’t started actually investing in individual stocks, I have started tracking some of them, and these are some pretty interesting ideas. (@ fat pitch financials)

Why Antiques Cost Less Than You Think My grandma used to say that if you kept something for a while, it became cheap and shabby, but if you kept it for even longer, it became an antique and thus valuable. I loved her. (@ get rich slowly)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Ten Ways To Save Money On Your Evening Commute With gas over three dollars a gallon even here in ethanol-subsidized Iowa, these tips are pretty timely.

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  1. Jeff Davis says:

    I’m not sure that I would put a concrete date down that would force me to select a house. A house is a huge decision that is easy to regret later on. Take your time. The more time you spend, the better for you…you have more money saved, the housing market tumbles further and further down (bringing panic to homesellers), the more you learn what appeals to you.

    Remember to check the tax rolls in your area. They’re usually online in some way or another. Omaha has the Douglas County Assessor website, for example. Check the previous selling price of the houses you’re looking for when considering what to offer the seller. If the seller just bought the house 2 years ago and is selling for close to what they paid for it, you’re not going to get much of a price reduction. If the seller bought the house 20 years ago, it’s paid off, and they’re asking for 10x what they paid, you can get much more off the asking price.

    Remember your buyer’s agent, although supposed to work on your behalf, is working on THEIR behalf – for commission. They will not encourage you to offer a low bid on a property, as it undercuts their paycheck at closing. The buyer’s agent will tell you that having them represent you costs you nothing…but often you can negotiate a discount with the seller’s agent if they don’t have to pay 3% to your buyer’s agent.

    Always offer what YOU would be comfortable paying for the property.

  2. Tyler says:

    Show us a picture of your new house when you complete the sale! Would love to see what you selected!

  3. Andamom says:

    I just wanted to offer you my best wishes on finding the house of your dreams –or at least one that you like.

    Here in NYC, we have been priced out of our neighborhood. I’ll be writing some posts in the near future about the real estate market and how it is difficult for 1st time buyers who earn more than the maximum income restrictions on the good deal places — but do not have the ability to do the cash deals or cannot afford the brownstones for a few million dollars. It is crazy — but there are two bedrooms with under 800 square feet going for >$650K + maintenance even here in Brooklyn. As a family of 4, we would actually like 3 bedrooms which is even harder. I’m not going to say that it is impossible to find something — but I will say that serious concessions need to be made in terms of location, size, etc.

  4. UncleOxidant says:

    I’ve gotta agree with what Jeff says above: I’m not sure setting a deadline to buy is a good idea. Doing so will change your mindset in possibly costly ways. Better to keep a ‘zen’ like mindset (for lack of a better phrase) – try not to become attached to any of the potential home choices. Keep yourself open to the possiblility that none of the homes you’re looking at this week is the right choice at these prices.

    As Jeff mentioned, waiting will likely save you a lot of money as home prices continue to tumble. We’re still in the early stages of the price decline: historically, down-markets in housing last for several years.

  5. Trent says:

    We have been looking for approximately six months and have seen the majority of homes available in the area. We liked many of them, and many are within our price range. The deadline is basically a way to force us to actually make a decision rather than continue to hem and haw and throw money away on renting.

    Also, we live in rural Iowa so these issues aren’t much of a factor. You can buy a five bedroom house with more than 2000 sq. ft. living space for under $200K here.

  6. ck_dex says:

    Thanks for the 5 Hacks link. When you are ready to purchase individual stocks, check out if you intend to steadily build positions in certain stocks or ETFs. If you buy their $20/month for 20 trades plan, you are paying only $1 in transaction fees. We’ve been really pleased with it, but we DO NOT use it to purchase stocks we intend to trade quickly and their research tools aren’t nearly as good as those on Schwab, TD Ameritrade etc. Not to mention that you have a lot less control over the price paid.

    Also, I agree that screeners can save you tons of time, and you will find ones that you learn to trust more than others as you look around. I have learned to trust screeners less for biotech stocks, and there may be other industries (perhaps anything highly regulated and dependent upon efficacy) for which screeners should play less of role than, say, annual reports and analyst reports.

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