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Old 01-19-2010, 07:39 AM
 
Location: USA East Coast
4,445 posts, read 4,475,576 times
Reputation: 1906
Quote:
Originally Posted by BucsLose View Post
First off, I realize there are a lot of people in the state that make a lot of money. I realize Fairfield County and other nearby cities will probably always have a very high cost of living, even higher than the rest of the state.

I came to Connecticut after joining the Navy. I have since gotten out and moved away from New London to the New Haven/Fairfield County line to be near my g/f and have attained a job.

I am currently trying to find a decent home in a decent, safe area. But my Lord, how do people do it? I bring in about 62k before taxes and thought I was doing okay. However, trying to find an affordable home has been a complete nightmare. I found out quickly that Fairfield County will be off limits to me, probably forever. Still, its been just as difficult finding a good home to live in in areas outside that county.

Given my income, ive judged that the most I can afford for a home is 230k or less approximately. Ive been looking in Shelton, Derby, Ansonia. No luck. Either the homes are to compact and in down town areas which I hate, or they are too expensive in anything considered a clean, decent area. Ive gone north and looked in Naugatuk, which just like Startford, the property taxes are 5k and higher for a good home.

I am sick of renting an apartment in downtown Shelton. I want so badly, to have a home with a damn yard, and away from the noise of the cities. I want to get away from all these dumb homes where they are so close together, you can put your hand out the window and tough the other persons house.

Does anyone ever expect things to get better for the average person in CT? If it isnt the ridiculously high property taxes, its the cost of the home. Property taxes I have found out in my search, have put a dagger into any hope of getting some houses. It doesnt seem like I can win. The worst part of it all, is that home prices have fallen and the interest rates have gone down. God knows im really screwed when home prices go back up and then the interest rates go back to high levels.

Sorry, I guess im just sort of venting here. Im just so frustrated.
An old woman who was a real estate agent once told me something I never forgot: When you’re looking for a home on a budget and the pickings are slim…you’re looking for a situation not a house.

About 11 years ago I was in your shoes. I was even in worse shape that you were…I had a small down payment…I wanted a house within walking distance to the beach, with land, in a nice area, that was cheap –lol. Champagne taste on beer money my spouse used to say (lol) . Worse, even if we could have afforded a big house…we didn’t want one. We like to travel a lot, and just wanted a modest size home in a nice coastal area. Each weekend we would come away more disappointed. It seemed if we didn’t have $800,000 to spend or made a ton of money we could forget it…there was zero out there. The few small affordable houses that we could find - had serious structual problems, were in a bad location (next to a nuclear power plant, 75 feet from a rail line,…etc). No one was willing to sell the smaller, nice house in a good location it seemed. The frustration was overwhelming.

Still, I got prequalified, had my down payment money ready…and was ready to pounce on any good deal. Then, I found a house with great bones, 1600 square feet, with an almost acre lot, in walking distance to the beach, in a nice area. The catch, the house was ugly on the inside. I mean UGULY – 1970’s orange countertops, brown vinyl floors in the kitchen/dining area that were destroyed, old fashioned light fixtures (a wagon wheel dining light?), green walls, every single faucet in the house leaked…etc. Although structurally the house was solid and well built…no one could see past the ugliness’ but me. Today the house inside and outside looks like a contempory beach house in South Carolina (lol). My “situation” was no one could see past an very ugly house on the inside…especially the kitchen. I got a great deal on the house because the kitchen was extremely ugly.

My point? Get prequalified and get everything ready to pounce on anything that is out there. Then look at the bones of the house. Look for that deal that is the very ugly house, or an out of state child is trying to sell their parents old house, or someone who has a job offer and needs to get out of CT right away. The worse the situation…the more moveable they owner will be with the price. Remember, colors, wallpaper, light fixtures, sinks, rugs, countertops…etc can be changed fairly easy (If I did anyone can). As long as there are no real problems (bad furnace, termites, foundation problems, roof…etc)…you can slowly change things once you move. Make a list a just a few must haves (in your case it seems like a good yard is really important), then be flexible on other issues. One other point…I know it seems obvious, but buy something you really can afford. The novelty of the king’s castle wears off quick when you have to meet huge ugly mortgage payments. Remember, a house is a big part of your life…but it is not the only part of your life. Make room for things like travel, time off from work…etc.

Keep plugging away mate. It took me 10 months of looking seven days a week… to find the right deal. Finding a house for a middle class person in CT is a seven day a week job. Keep looking it’s out there. You’ll know it when you see “your” house.

Good luck.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:56 AM
 
Location: Connecticut
14,195 posts, read 22,167,198 times
Reputation: 3089
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavehunter007 View Post
An old woman who was a real estate agent once told me something I never forgot: When you’re looking for a home on a budget and the pickings are slim…you’re looking for a situation not a house.

About 11 years ago I was in your shoes. I was even in worse shape that you were…I had a small down payment…I wanted a house within walking distance to the beach, with land, in a nice area, that was cheap –lol. Champagne taste on beer money my spouse used to say (lol) . Worse, even if we could have afforded a big house…we didn’t want one. We like to travel a lot, and just wanted a modest size home in a nice coastal area. Each weekend we would come away more disappointed. It seemed if we didn’t have $800,000 to spend or made a ton of money we could forget it…there was zero out there. The few small affordable houses that we could find - had serious structual problems, were in a bad location (next to a nuclear power plant, 75 feet from a rail line,…etc). No one was willing to sell the smaller, nice house in a good location it seemed. The frustration was overwhelming.

Still, I got prequalified, had my down payment money ready…and was ready to pounce on any good deal. Then, I found a house with great bones, 1600 square feet, with an almost acre lot, in walking distance to the beach, in a nice area. The catch, the house was ugly on the inside. I mean UGULY – 1970’s orange countertops, brown vinyl floors in the kitchen/dining area that were destroyed, old fashioned light fixtures (a wagon wheel dining light?), green walls, every single faucet in the house leaked…etc. Although structurally the house was solid and well built…no one could see past the ugliness’ but me. Today the house inside and outside looks like a contempory beach house in South Carolina (lol). My “situation” was no one could see past an very ugly house on the inside…especially the kitchen. I got a great deal on the house because the kitchen was extremely ugly.

My point? Get prequalified and get everything ready to pounce on anything that is out there. Then look at the bones of the house. Look for that deal that is the very ugly house, or an out of state child is trying to sell their parents old house, or someone who has a job offer and needs to get out of CT right away. The worse the situation…the more moveable they owner will be with the price. Remember, colors, wallpaper, light fixtures, sinks, rugs, countertops…etc can be changed fairly easy (If I did anyone can). As long as there are no real problems (bad furnace, termites, foundation problems, roof…etc)…you can slowly change things once you move. Make a list a just a few must haves (in your case it seems like a good yard is really important), then be flexible on other issues. One other point…I know it seems obvious, but buy something you really can afford. The novelty of the king’s castle wears off quick when you have to meet huge ugly mortgage payments. Remember, a house is a big part of your life…but it is not the only part of your life. Make room for things like travel, time off from work…etc.

Keep plugging away mate. It took me 10 months of looking seven days a week… to find the right deal. Finding a house for a middle class person in CT is a seven day a week job. Keep looking it’s out there. You’ll know it when you see “your” house.

Good luck.
Great post. People forget that we live in a free market society which means that the price of homes are set by the market. Home prices are what they are because people can afford to pay the price. otherwise prices would be lower.

To the OP, I too was in your position years ago and did what Wavehunter suggested. In the late 80's things were even tougher because interest rates were high and people were buying homes as soon as they came on the market. I saw that a new condo project was approved in in a nearby town. The only thing I knew was there was a new project going to be built so I called every agent in town, read every newspaper's ads every day and talked with local building officials. There was one small ad one day in the local paper. It had a phone number to call. I called that number night and day for weeks until finally one day someone answered. I put my name on a list and ended up reserving a unit before construction had even begun. It was a lot of work but it was worth it. Good luck, Jay
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Fairfield
588 posts, read 1,092,494 times
Reputation: 266
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavehunter007 View Post
An old woman who was a real estate agent once told me something I never forgot: When you’re looking for a home on a budget and the pickings are slim…you’re looking for a situation not a house.

About 11 years ago I was in your shoes. I was even in worse shape that you were…I had a small down payment…I wanted a house within walking distance to the beach, with land, in a nice area, that was cheap –lol. Champagne taste on beer money my spouse used to say (lol) . Worse, even if we could have afforded a big house…we didn’t want one. We like to travel a lot, and just wanted a modest size home in a nice coastal area. Each weekend we would come away more disappointed. It seemed if we didn’t have $800,000 to spend or made a ton of money we could forget it…there was zero out there. The few small affordable houses that we could find - had serious structual problems, were in a bad location (next to a nuclear power plant, 75 feet from a rail line,…etc). No one was willing to sell the smaller, nice house in a good location it seemed. The frustration was overwhelming.

Still, I got prequalified, had my down payment money ready…and was ready to pounce on any good deal. Then, I found a house with great bones, 1600 square feet, with an almost acre lot, in walking distance to the beach, in a nice area. The catch, the house was ugly on the inside. I mean UGULY – 1970’s orange countertops, brown vinyl floors in the kitchen/dining area that were destroyed, old fashioned light fixtures (a wagon wheel dining light?), green walls, every single faucet in the house leaked…etc. Although structurally the house was solid and well built…no one could see past the ugliness’ but me. Today the house inside and outside looks like a contempory beach house in South Carolina (lol). My “situation” was no one could see past an very ugly house on the inside…especially the kitchen. I got a great deal on the house because the kitchen was extremely ugly.

My point? Get prequalified and get everything ready to pounce on anything that is out there. Then look at the bones of the house. Look for that deal that is the very ugly house, or an out of state child is trying to sell their parents old house, or someone who has a job offer and needs to get out of CT right away. The worse the situation…the more moveable they owner will be with the price. Remember, colors, wallpaper, light fixtures, sinks, rugs, countertops…etc can be changed fairly easy (If I did anyone can). As long as there are no real problems (bad furnace, termites, foundation problems, roof…etc)…you can slowly change things once you move. Make a list a just a few must haves (in your case it seems like a good yard is really important), then be flexible on other issues. One other point…I know it seems obvious, but buy something you really can afford. The novelty of the king’s castle wears off quick when you have to meet huge ugly mortgage payments. Remember, a house is a big part of your life…but it is not the only part of your life. Make room for things like travel, time off from work…etc.

Keep plugging away mate. It took me 10 months of looking seven days a week… to find the right deal. Finding a house for a middle class person in CT is a seven day a week job. Keep looking it’s out there. You’ll know it when you see “your” house.

Good luck.
Great post! My wife and I were in the same situation 3 years ago...pretty close to the peak of the market. Luckily, both of us had saved a good amount of money and we had a good down payment ready. We both had good stable jobs, but our problem is that we both worked in Manhattan. This limited us to a few towns that we could reasonably commute from. So, we set our budget, picked the town where we could settle for a long term, figured our requirements, and went looking. 3 months and 40+ houses later, looking on weekends after driving up from NJ, we stumbled onto 1 house that was beyond our means. It had been on the market for a while, and there was no interest. My wife walked in, saw the price, and walked out. I walked in, saw the price and how long it had been around, and looked around more. The house hadn't been updated in 30 years, but it's core was pretty good. It was in a cul de sac, sat on a half acre, was in a good neighborhood, and had a nice looking bunch of houses on the street. The inside had layer upon layer of wallpaper, every room was ugly and dated, a bunch of the windows had cracked panes, and they said up front that it needed a new roof. After some haggling, we got the house for 20% under their original asking price, just a few thousand over our budget. The benefit was - we were able to look past how dated the house was, and saw that we could transform it into what we wanted. Yes, it's been 3 years and we still aren't done, and there are some things that bug me about the house, but with a lot of hard work and some luck we've turned it into a home that we love.

Moral of the story is - don't look at color. Check out how sturdy it is, the neighborhood, electrical system, and as important - room size. This is very difficult, especially with some houses sitting empty. Keep trying, and eventually you will find the home that matches your budget.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:55 PM
 
Location: New England
8,156 posts, read 12,652,342 times
Reputation: 3164
I don't know...I purchase similar and had different results.

After putting in a new furnace, replumbing the entire house down to the well pump, updating the electrical, remodeling the bath, replacing all the ceiling drywall, rebuilding the front wrap around porch, rebuilding the rear deck, replacing the windows, turning the 4 bedroom into a formal dining room, new water heater, cutting down half a forest of trees and overgrowth, installing a new parking area, sidewalk and landscaping and gave the entire exterior a repair/repaint I'm pretty broke - and that's doing 99% of the work myself!

The house still needs a new kitchen, the drive is 50 years old and in dire need of repaving, a new garage door and some other items that are not done.

The "core" of the house is solid. Steel beam in the basement, 2x12 floor joists, 2x10 in the ceiling etc.

I just wouldn't say it's as easy as some of you folks are making out to be. If you purchase a house that is in disrepair that money to fix it up doesn't grow on a tree out back, and if said person is not handy - forget it. Costs can skyrocket.

Then comes finding the time when you are pounding down 60+ hours a week. Working on the house every friggin weekend for a year or two sucks.

Just another take.
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:18 PM
 
Location: Central Virginia
834 posts, read 1,258,550 times
Reputation: 623
I totally agree JViello. I fixer upper is a good option. It's just not for everyone.
Our house in Virginia was a fixer upper and let me tell you....never again.
Sure the house was cheaper, and my mortgage was smaller. But instead of a high mortgage, I then had a high Home Depot/Lowes bill because I was there every single week. Then, not only was it costly, but we had to spend every weekend remodeling. My husband is very handy but it got old for the both of us. So unless you are the kind of person who is willing to buy a house and do one or two projects a year, I would think twice about a total fixer upper. Of course there are some homes that really just need some TLC and some elbow grease.

I would contact a realtor and ask about short sales and foreclosures. You can usually get a good deal with those IF you can find a house that meets your needs.

The thing that is frustrating about the housing market here is that it seems like homes do have more to drop before reaching bottom but we are moving at a snail's pace getting there.
I've been looking at homes for the past year. An entire year. I see many of the same homes sitting, sitting. The owners refuse to drop the price. Yet an entire year goes by and no offers? Hello! The house is priced too high. But maybe the sellers can't come down on price without the house going into a short sale. But they hope that some fool will pay what the house was worth in 2006. So what happens is you have these overpriced homes sitting and clogging up the market. They aren't going to sell at that price.
Right now, it is so hard to get conventional financing unless you have a killer credit score and 20% down. So many buyers are looking at FHA loans. The thing is, FHA has limits of usually 417k. So for these homes that are priced way above that, they are going to need buyers with 20% down. How many people have that these days? Most don't. So I do see a trickling down effect happening with homes in the future where the higher priced homes have no choice but to come down which in turn affects all homes priced below that.

So hang in there! I would find a rental that you are comfortable in and wait a bit. But do understand that this state is always going to cost you more than other states. No two ways about it. You have to love it here. You have to. It's not someplace like Texas where a person could say, "Well, I don't love it here, but cost of living is so cheap and my house is so huge it's worth it." There have to be other things you love about this state and/or work that keeps you here.
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:52 PM
 
Location: Soon to be Dubuque, IA
18 posts, read 35,056 times
Reputation: 40
Housing in Connecticut went up 80% from 2000 to 2007 while median incomes went up only 25%. The bubble prices are not sustainable and they will come down but they are being stubborn. There is nothing positive on the horizon for the housing market. The $8000 tax credit is being phased out. Jobs are still hard to come by. Mortgage rates are projected to rise in the next year. I wouldn't be in a hurry to buy right now.

I personally don't think it's a good idea to buy a house until you're really ready to settle down. Wait until after you get married. What you really should to do is get out of your apartment and find a small rental house with a yard. Right now it's cheaper to rent than own in Connecticut. Pay the extra money for a house instead of an apartment and you'll be a lot happier. Where you live must match your lifestyle, whether you own or rent.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:05 PM
 
Location: Fairfield, CT
4,149 posts, read 4,231,137 times
Reputation: 3643
Quote:
Originally Posted by JViello View Post

I respect your posts and mindset for the most part, but I disagree. It's not that simple. There are many factors that can affect a person and family that may make their outcome totally different than yours.
Thanks man. I understand that it doesn't always turn out the same for everybody. I was just giving my own experience, and offering some advice on how he gets where he wants to be.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Fairfield, CT
4,149 posts, read 4,231,137 times
Reputation: 3643
Quote:
Originally Posted by BucsLose View Post
Yeah, I agree 100% with home values. At least some of the ones as high as 300k. You look at many of them and you cant help but think "how in the hell are these homes priced so high?!" Just because some people have a lot of money in this state, why on earth would you over pay for many of these homes? Look at what youve dont to the market in this state. So many houses are so highly over-valued.

I have 14k for a down payment. I wasnt going to do the 20 percent simply because Im using the VA Home Loan which doesnt even require a down payment. I work for a company involved with substation automation.
If you think houses are overvalued, you need to wait out the market and hope they come down. You can't will the market to change. As I said before, I think housing prices are still very high relative to income, and could come down further.

I don't think a $14,000 down payment is enough, if you want my honest opinion. If we've learned anything in the past 3 years, it should be that those special loan programs that are meant to 'help' people by not requiring down payments and the like have done anything but help people.

I suggest you try to save more money before you buy a house. It's a very nerve-wracking thing to be in over your head.
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:52 PM
 
673 posts, read 572,433 times
Reputation: 298
Quote:
Originally Posted by BucsLose View Post
I am currently trying to find a decent home in a decent, safe area. But my Lord, how do people do it? I bring in about 62k before taxes and thought I was doing okay. However, trying to find an affordable home has been a complete nightmare. I found out quickly that Fairfield County will be off limits to me, probably forever. Still, its been just as difficult finding a good home to live in in areas outside that county.
Have you checked northern Fairfield County? I just did a quick search and got some 200 (250,000/less) properties in the Danbury area, including Bethel and New Fairfield with a sparkling in Newtown. There were a couple in Fairfield and a few in Stratford. But yes you will likely get less house and property.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BucsLose View Post
I want so badly, to have a home with a damn yard, and away from the noise of the cities. I want to get away from all these dumb homes where they are so close together, you can put your hand out the window and tough the other persons house.

Does anyone ever expect things to get better for the average person in CT? If it isnt the ridiculously high property taxes, its the cost of the home. Property taxes I have found out in my search, have put a dagger into any hope of getting some houses. It doesnt seem like I can win. The worst part of it all, is that home prices have fallen and the interest rates have gone down.
Average person in Connecticut? I'm not too sure where you're from, but you just insulted the vast majority of Yankees with our development patterns (50% of us live on less than 2% of the land). A lot of the houses are houses that you can touch the neighbour's. And people pay a premium to live like that here, if they weren't this thread would be moot. I know you were venting, but maybe there's a different way of looking how you go about it.

And average people have gotten an intense beating all over for the last 20 years with high dollar values and policy written at a national level that heavily favoured the financial sector.

~Cheers
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:45 AM
 
4,775 posts, read 7,612,343 times
Reputation: 3090
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beeker2211 View Post



Average person in Connecticut? I'm not too sure where you're from, but you just insulted the vast majority of Yankees with our development patterns (50% of us live on less than 2% of the land). A lot of the houses are houses that you can touch the neighbour's. And people pay a premium to live like that here, if they weren't this thread would be moot. I know you were venting, but maybe there's a different way of looking how you go about it.

And average people have gotten an intense beating all over for the last 20 years with high dollar values and policy written at a national level that heavily favoured the financial sector.

~Cheers
I read the OP's post differently, I don't think he was implying that the "average person" lived where they could touch their neighbors. That was a separate paragraph. I think he meant the average person as in middle class, and being able to afford a modest home. In the first paragraph he was just venting about the homes in the cities being so close together. As someone who has lived in a few of Ct.'s cities, I perfectly understand his sentiment, I didn't like living there, either.

To the OP, as suggested, you could still afford a modest home in upper FFC, or in some northern areas of Ct. Yes, you will likely need to do a lot of updating, but that just goes with being an "average person". It's not fun, we had to do that ourselves, but it can be do-able. On the bright side, homes are much more affordable now than they were a few years ago. Good luck.
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