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Good morning everyone,

Currently I am on baby step 2 and am close to knocking out my debt by the summer time. I currently live in Northern Virginia where the housing market is a little crazy and running a "How much house can I afford" calculator and I am recommended a home at $160,000. My only problem with is I cannot find a home at that price range. I have two kids and I would need a I would need three bedroom home. So far the lowest I have seen for a three bedroom is $270,000 townhome. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Congrats for being on Baby Step 2, now about the house, are you looking for something you can fix up (would be cheaper), foreclosure or move in ready nothing needed?

If you search on realtor.com you can set price ranges and they will even show you foreclosures, etc... Good luck with the search.
 

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Congrats for being on Baby Step 2, now about the house, are you looking for something you can fix up (would be cheaper), foreclosure or move in ready nothing needed?

If you search on realtor.com you can set price ranges and they will even show you foreclosures, etc... Good luck with the search.

Thanks for the tip!
 

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People are priced out of home ownership in a lot of cities, due to low income, high prices, or both. It's also becoming more widespread as the years tick on.

As FrugalMom said, you can look for cheaper houses that may or may not need to be fixed up, foreclosures or short sales, things like that.

Reach out to a realtor. Last I used one, it was a free service, as the house seller paid the realtor instead of me. They can do the legwork to find a house within your price range.

There may be programs that can help, although I doubt enough to make up the $100,000 difference you say you need.

If those options fail, you may be stuck with either trying to make more money, or looking in a different area. Or renting, but that's not what you're going for.
 

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I currently live in Northern Virginia where the housing market is a little crazy and running a "How much house can I afford" calculator and I am recommended a home at $160,000. My only problem with is I cannot find a home at that price range. I have two kids and I would need a I would need three bedroom home. So far the lowest I have seen for a three bedroom is $270,000 townhome. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
You may have to adjust your definition of "need" to fit the region. Eg, throughout WW2 we (family of 5) lived in a 420 foot 1-bdroom bungalow with no water, no indoor plumbing. We probably "needed" 1000 feet, 3 bdroom, and indoor plumbing to fit into the societal norm - but when our needs were reduced to "actual needs" the 420 foot served us well.

In VA, the median home is about $600,000 near DC (Fairfax Cty) and about $100,000 near the NC. So you must optimize your compromises. The first compromise is "commute vs hsg cost" - ie, a one hour commute and a $2000/m house - or a 15 min commute and a $$3500/m house. The second compromise is how much house? The 'normal' house has grown to over 2000 feet for a family of 5, only 60 years ago the norm was under 1400 ft. That's more of a Keep Up With The Joneses effect than a need.

As for foreclosures, fixer uppers, ancients, etc - the actual work has a value of about $10 to $12/hr, plus materials. Depending on your skills and desires, you may want to earn an extra $25/hr at your normal occupation and pay $12/hr to have it done.
When I was accumulating my group of rental houses, I looked in 2 to 7 year-old neighborhoods. The houses were near-new - modern wiring, modern plumbing, faucets, fixtures, near-new appliances - stove, dish washer, disposal, AC, Furnace, Water Heater, etc. The first owner hung drapes and planted the grass, built the fence. So about all I needed was the key and a renter - and almost no repairs or upgrades for the first 10 years. My favorites (as a landlord) were 1100 to 1300 3bdrm, 2 ba houses. That size fit most renters - ie young families who rented until they saved for a house, until they found their 'permanent' jobs, etc. So I had very few vacancies, usually a waiting list.

Regardless of what category you decide to look at - avoid add-ons. If the 'as-built' footprint of the house has been modified (by add-ons) pass on it, you don't need the soil settling issues, the water leaks of the seams, the old wiring/new wiring interfaces, yada.
 

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You may have to adjust your definition of "need" to fit the region. Eg, throughout WW2 we (family of 5) lived in a 420 foot 1-bdroom bungalow with no water, no indoor plumbing. We probably "needed" 1000 feet, 3 bdroom, and indoor plumbing to fit into the societal norm - but when our needs were reduced to "actual needs" the 420 foot served us well.

In VA, the median home is about $600,000 near DC (Fairfax Cty) and about $100,000 near the NC. So you must optimize your compromises. The first compromise is "commute vs hsg cost" - ie, a one hour commute and a $2000/m house - or a 15 min commute and a $$3500/m house. The second compromise is how much house? The 'normal' house has grown to over 2000 feet for a family of 5, only 60 years ago the norm was under 1400 ft. That's more of a Keep Up With The Joneses effect than a need.

As for foreclosures, fixer uppers, ancients, etc - the actual work has a value of about $10 to $12/hr, plus materials. Depending on your skills and desires, you may want to earn an extra $25/hr at your normal occupation and pay $12/hr to have it done.
When I was accumulating my group of rental houses, I looked in 2 to 7 year-old neighborhoods. The houses were near-new - modern wiring, modern plumbing, faucets, fixtures, near-new appliances - stove, dish washer, disposal, AC, Furnace, Water Heater, etc. The first owner hung drapes and planted the grass, built the fence. So about all I needed was the key and a renter - and almost no repairs or upgrades for the first 10 years. My favorites (as a landlord) were 1100 to 1300 3bdrm, 2 ba houses. That size fit most renters - ie young families who rented until they saved for a house, until they found their 'permanent' jobs, etc. So I had very few vacancies, usually a waiting list.

Regardless of what category you decide to look at - avoid add-ons. If the 'as-built' footprint of the house has been modified (by add-ons) pass on it, you don't need the soil settling issues, the water leaks of the seams, the old wiring/new wiring interfaces, yada.
This is a very good post, especially the first two paragraphs. It has amazed me, over the years, to hear what people think they "need" in terms of housing. Like old guy, I grew up in an era and a family that what you "needed" usually equaled what you had. I grew up in a 6-person family. My three sisters all shared a room. I was the lucky one, being the only boy, to have my own room. We were poor, but happy. The biggest "need" one has, when one does not have money, is to need to make do with what you have and what you can actually afford. This post is not directed at the OP, I was just so happy to see old guy say something I have thought for years, I wanted to recognize it! :)
 

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Maybe you need to rethink what you "need". A friend got by with a 2 bedroom by putting dressers down the middle of one bedroom one facing each direction. A twin bed against the wall in each half of the room and then hung a curtain above the dressers to complete division of the room. If the second bedroom is too small to divide, you could put the kids in the master and you take the smaller room. If your two kids are same sex, they share an undivided room. Bunkbeds are great space savers.

Friends with a large (13 kids) family lived in a smallish three bedroom home with an extra bedroom and a bath added in the basement for the older boys. That same home in now occupied by a family with seven kids.

I've found that bedroom space isn't all that important if the living spaces in the home are comfortable. My home is 1400 sq. ft. and at one time we had 4 adults, 4 teenagers and a younger grade school boy living here. Ideal no, but definitely doable.

As a single woman I would hesitate to take on a fixer unless you can afford to hire help. Friends and family often say they'll help, but when push comes to shove they are too busy. With a full time job and two kids, I'd guess you don't have much free time to tackle renovations...and then there is the issue of living in a house undergoing renovations.
 
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