8 years later it happened: we bought a home

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Submitted by LongTimeListener on March 23, 2012 - 9:47pm

Hello Piggs,

Perhaps the all too familiar story - been lurking for a long time, finally signed escrow papers this week!

Our experience: We first started looking in 2004. Back then, it was a matter of "going with the flow" since we were getting constantly bombarded with news from our friends, neighbors, and relatives, about purchasing a home with little or zero down-payment, and the accompanying encouragement to not be left behind renting when we could be living the American dream. A couple of visits to two lender's offices, for financing products available to us, quickly convinced us that the market conditions were not right for us. We were getting insane financing pre-qualifications for amounts many times what we were earning; also, homes in our now inflated price range were being literally snapped up by the competing buyers. So, we decided to wait.

A couple of years later, in late 2006, with better jobs and nothing but "good news" from the RE market, we decided to have a go at it again. This time, the lenders were not holding back at all - basically, it was a "don't worry, we'll qualify you, we'll get docs later" environment from the major banks and Countrywide. Again, the idea was that we would be missing out if we didn't buy and this time, it really was the right time to buy...we should've known better. Anyway, looking for the right home at the right price, the ratio of "impending doom" vs the NRA news began to change in favor of not buying a home (this is near September 2006) and, by the time we had declared a winner loan provider, we decide to once again, wait for the right time.

Fast forward to 2008, I still have a job, and RE prices are plummeting, we begin to look for an opportunity. After a few months looking for the right home, and finding it, the layoffs begin at my place of employment - oh, oh...time to hit the brakes again.

Now, in late 2011, with employment feeling a bit more solid, with the available economic indicators pointing North, with the record low interest rates, and the fact that in our price range, the mortgage payment would be similar to our current rental rate, we got serious about looking for a home. One thing became apparent immediately after we started looking: it may be a "buyer's market" officially, but competition is just as heavy as it was in 2006. Many of the property showings that we went to, had offers being presented basically on the spot. Many of our offers became "back up offers" on short sales because we were too late to in at the front of the line. The properties that were sitting for relatively longer periods of time had definite issues with them - illegal additions, unpermitted work, etc. Also, the pickings were slim. Inventory would dry up every other week (no new listings in our area of interest).

We finally got an offer accepted on a short-sale which had its previous accepted offer fall through from another buyer.

We want to thank Rich Toscano and all the knowledgeable people who make this site such a relevant source of information. The information gathered from here over the years, coupled with our "on the field" experiences definitely made us more robust/prepared buyers. Whether this is the right time to buy - time will tell, but we won't be looking back too much.

Thank you all!

Submitted by scaredyclassic on March 23, 2012 - 10:50pm.

8 years goes by pretty fast

Submitted by sdrealtor on March 24, 2012 - 8:04am.

And certainly worth the wait in this case.

Congrats!

Submitted by briansd1 on March 24, 2012 - 9:09am.

Congrats! I'm sure you'll enjoy much more satisfaction and pride of ownership than people who bought into the mania.

Submitted by Bubblesitter on March 24, 2012 - 12:43pm.

Congrats LTL!
I too was a bubblesitter who waited out the bubble, i bought a couple years ago now and am thoroughly enjoying homeownership. My wife is alot happier now with gardening activiies and home decor projects, as I am too with my various home projects and man-cave buildout still in process

Bubblesitter

Submitted by 5yes on March 24, 2012 - 12:44pm.

Congrats! I hope you enjoy your new house!

Submitted by protorio on March 24, 2012 - 4:01pm.

Congratulations! Its amazing how so many of us had the *exact* same experiences. And read the tea leaves correctly...

Submitted by lpjohnso on March 25, 2012 - 1:06am.

Congratulations! We just bought too! Absolutely no regrets!

Submitted by CafeMoto on March 25, 2012 - 8:21pm.

happy for you too. I started to feel I would never get into ownership. Smart choices are key in life. congrats

Submitted by CA renter on March 27, 2012 - 12:22am.

Timing is everything...

Congratulations on your new home! :)

Though renting is perfectly fine, and especially smart during the bubble years, it's nice to have more "ownership" in your home and community.

Enjoy your new home!

Submitted by svelte on March 27, 2012 - 9:52pm.

lpjohnso wrote:
Congratulations! We just bought too! Absolutely no regrets!

hey lp, i remember the area where you bought...how is the new homestead? :-)

Submitted by Jazzman on March 29, 2012 - 1:26pm.

Congratulations! We finally bought after eight years as well, but not in California which is still such a challenge. Prices seem to be where they were when we started looking, which was a shock then so nothing really changed in our view. We rather begrudgingly wasted eight years waiting, due to others' greed and stupidity. Such is life, and we accept the Great Recession was (is) a once in a lifetime event.

After a lot of soul searching, and with probably only another 10-15 healthy years ahead of us, the price to pay to live here just didn't add up. It's a personal/cultural thing. I'm from the UK and my wife from Taiwan and we're both well traveled, so our outlook is going to be different. For us France still remains one of the most extraordinary place in the world and offers a life style second to none. Its rich cultural heritage and emphasis on living is a huge lure so we will be spending much of the year there, where wonderful old manors, chateaux etc can be bought for less than a SFH in established neighborhoods in CA. Maui will become home in a few days time for residence and tax purposes, and of course being one of the most beautiful places in the world, is in our view more deserving of the premium you'd expect pay, which actually turned out to be better value. Two wonderful homes in two top destinations for the price of one in California was a no brainer.

Please forgive me for highjacking your post, but I thought it might offer a contrasting story, but one which also ends happily. I hope you enjoy your new home.

Big thanks go to Rich and many of the other long term posters who have contributed some great insights, and helped me enormously. The tenor seems to have changed a little from the old days (I was qwerty007 then), but that's understandable.

Submitted by bearishgurl on March 29, 2012 - 1:32pm.

Jazzman, the coming "retirement" you have planned for yourselves sounds absolutely extraordinary!

Submitted by briansd1 on March 29, 2012 - 1:52pm.

Jazzman wrote:
For us France still remains one of the most extraordinary place in the world and offers a life style second to none. Its rich cultural heritage and emphasis on living is a huge lure so we will be spending much of the year there, where wonderful old manors, chateaux etc can be bought for less than a SFH in established neighborhoods in CA.

France is a wonderful retirement country. It's a country rich with culture and beauty; and if you don't flock to tourist areas such a Provence, you can buy something very affordable.

If you don't speak French already, then learning French is good brain exercise to prevent Alzheimer's (chess playing is great too).

Submitted by Jazzman on March 29, 2012 - 6:47pm.

Brian, I get my senior moments but luckily school boy French is indelibly stamped in there somewhere.

Submitted by Jazzman on March 29, 2012 - 10:49pm.

bearishgurl wrote:
Jazzman, the coming "retirement" you have planned for yourselves sounds absolutely extraordinary!

If you consider my wife waited 15 years to get her green card to be with her family in her old age, you'll realize the decision to leave was not taken lightly. We felt that strongly about it. Having seen dozens of homes, the reaction was nearly always YMBJ if you think we're going to pay that. Are we better off than most? Yes, so we shouldn't whine, but our "retirement plan" had to offset the heartache and disappointment my wife felt. It's nothing personal against California. My home town of London is a lost cause, with tens of thousands of potential buyers probably permanently priced out, and if you dig around enough you'll find the deep seated frustration that still consumes so many. It makes you wish there was something you could do to help. But then I suppose, many parts of the world would scoff at our pleading poverty.

Submitted by bearishgurl on March 30, 2012 - 1:02pm.

Jazzman wrote:
bearishgurl wrote:
Jazzman, the coming "retirement" you have planned for yourselves sounds absolutely extraordinary!

If you consider my wife waited 15 years to get her green card to be with her family in her old age, you'll realize the decision to leave was not taken lightly. We felt that strongly about it. Having seen dozens of homes, the reaction was nearly always YMBJ if you think we're going to pay that. Are we better off than most? Yes, so we shouldn't whine, but our "retirement plan" had to offset the heartache and disappointment my wife felt. It's nothing personal against California. My home town of London is a lost cause, with tens of thousands of potential buyers probably permanently priced out, and if you dig around enough you'll find the deep seated frustration that still consumes so many. It makes you wish there was something you could do to help. But then I suppose, many parts of the world would scoff at our pleading poverty.

Jazzman, you might want to look into Continental vouchers from Honolulu to LAX/SAN so you and/or your spouse can visit her family in SD more economically. She may have used them in the past. They used to have them in the '80's/'90's and at that time they were available for purchase in bundles of 3, 6, 9 or 12 (connecting to Cont'l Air Micronesia, if needed). They may only fly from HNL to SAN 2-3 times per wk but fly to LAX 1-2 times per day.

The way they used to work is one voucher is good for ONE leg in the "Pacific Theatre":

A "leg" consisted of a one-way ticket to/from:

* HNL to CONUS (CA, Portland, Seattle)

* HNL to PPG (American Samoa)

* HNL to Guam (GUM - Hub)

* PPG to Sydney (SYD)

* PPG to Brisbane (BNE)

* PPG to Melbourne (MEL)

* PPG to Christchurch (CHC)

* GUM to Manila (MNL)

* GUM to Micronesia (KSA, PNI, YAP)

* GUM to the Carolines (KOR)

* GUM to the Marshall Islands (MAJ)

These vouchers were often used by US military personnel and their families to return home on leave when they could not catch a timely EML flight (military MWR flight).

With the recent Cont'l merger w/United, not sure about the routing now.

Also, Hawaiian Air often has good RT deals from HNL to CONUS and back. They are much better prices than the reverse (where a huge captive audience exists to pay more) :={.

I think you did fine, Jazzman. Personally, I'd rather have the homes you bought in HI and abroad and visit family :=].

Submitted by lpjohnso on March 30, 2012 - 1:31pm.

svelte, the new homestead in San Marcos is wonderful! We are all settled in after the remodel and we could not be happier! It took over 5 months to close on the short sale, but we are so glad we did it! $330,000 (+$40,000 for the remodel) for a 1500 square feet house that is 10 minutes from the beach? We never thought we would see the day. :)

Discovery Hills is proving to be the perfect neighborhood for us and our young sons. The schools are great, the neighborhood is safe and we love the walking trails and the neighborhood parks and Discovery Lake. We are so grateful to be here. We looked for years in Encinitas and Carlsbad (where we grew up), and finally faced the fact that we could not afford what we wanted there. San Marcos is better than we ever imagined. The marine layer rarely reaches us! The town is not what is was 20 years ago. There are so many restaurants, shopping, new high school being built, great colleges, and the city is beginning development on the new downtown (the Creek District) and the plans look unbelievable. I think we are going to be here a very, very long time!

Thanks so much for asking, svelte! I hope all is well with you! And thanks to all of the piggs for all of the great information over the years!

I posted some pics of the remodel on houzz.com. All of the pics are on the right side under "Honeysuckle House".

http://www.houzz.com/photos/611320/The-V...

Submitted by sdrealtor on March 30, 2012 - 1:54pm.

Congrats on the new house and it looks wonderful. My biggest gripe about SM these days is that Phil's BBQ is closed on Mondays. I do have a recent great discovery. Across from the new high school is a butcher shop called T&H Meats (I think that's what it is called). They have the most amazing pulled pork I have ever had outside of North Carolina. I try to stop for lunch whenever I am in the area.

Submitted by lpjohnso on March 30, 2012 - 2:06pm.

sdrealtor, thanks so much! And especially thanks for your help during our confusion over the past couple of years! You were always so kind to lend your help and advice.

I agree with you about Phil's! However, I haven't tried the butcher shop, but I will now! Thanks!

Submitted by sdrealtor on March 30, 2012 - 2:18pm.

The pleasure is always mine and I love to help people however I can. Those who actually know me understand that while sometimes I play the jerk online in real life thats not really me.

Enjoy the new casa! That lake and the trails around it are a real hidden gem.

Submitted by Jazzman on March 30, 2012 - 2:53pm.

Bearishgirl, thanks for those flight tips. We'll definitely check them out.

Submitted by earlyretirement on March 30, 2012 - 4:36pm.

Congratulations and enjoy your new home!

Like you, I also waited on the sidelines for many years but finally bought last year and very happy with our decision.

Longer term, prices in desirable parts of San Diego will surpass peak levels again.

Not to say we purchased our home for capital appreciation because we didn't. However, it's never a good feeling buying at the top of any bubble.

You did good.

Submitted by CA renter on March 31, 2012 - 2:40am.

lpjohnso wrote:
svelte, the new homestead in San Marcos is wonderful! We are all settled in after the remodel and we could not be happier! It took over 5 months to close on the short sale, but we are so glad we did it! $330,000 (+$40,000 for the remodel) for a 1500 square feet house that is 10 minutes from the beach? We never thought we would see the day. :)

Discovery Hills is proving to be the perfect neighborhood for us and our young sons. The schools are great, the neighborhood is safe and we love the walking trails and the neighborhood parks and Discovery Lake. We are so grateful to be here. We looked for years in Encinitas and Carlsbad (where we grew up), and finally faced the fact that we could not afford what we wanted there. San Marcos is better than we ever imagined. The marine layer rarely reaches us! The town is not what is was 20 years ago. There are so many restaurants, shopping, new high school being built, great colleges, and the city is beginning development on the new downtown (the Creek District) and the plans look unbelievable. I think we are going to be here a very, very long time!

Thanks so much for asking, svelte! I hope all is well with you! And thanks to all of the piggs for all of the great information over the years!

I posted some pics of the remodel on houzz.com. All of the pics are on the right side under "Honeysuckle House".

http://www.houzz.com/photos/611320/The-Vintage-Bean-eclectic-hall-san-diego

Congratulations on your new house, lpjohnso! :)

Not sure what the house looked like originally, but it looks like you made that $40K go a long way in your remodel. Very nice!

The Discovery Hills area is gorgeous, too. My dad used to live there, and he loved it. It's not like you're that far from CBD/ENC, either. Looks like you got the best of both worlds. Enjoy!

Submitted by svelte on March 31, 2012 - 10:27am.

lpjohnso wrote:

Discovery Hills is proving to be the perfect neighborhood for us and our young sons. The schools are great, the neighborhood is safe and we love the walking trails and the neighborhood parks and Discovery Lake. We are so grateful to be here. We looked for years in Encinitas and Carlsbad (where we grew up), and finally faced the fact that we could not afford what we wanted there. San Marcos is better than we ever imagined. The marine layer rarely reaches us! The town is not what is was 20 years ago. There are so many restaurants, shopping, new high school being built, great colleges, and the city is beginning development on the new downtown (the Creek District) and the plans look unbelievable. I think we are going to be here a very, very long time!

I posted some pics of the remodel on houzz.com. All of the pics are on the right side under "Honeysuckle House"...

Wow! You did an awesome remodel! Very good taste! (I had to laugh though because I swear you borrowed our dog to take your pics...they are twins!)

I love the Discovery area too...when we bought our first house in SM, we came very close to buying a house in Honeysuckle/Applewilde area when they were new. Houses are great and to hit the beach you just turn left on SM Blvd and drive straight for 10 min until your wheels are in the Pacific...how awesome is that?

When my kids were young, we would drive over to Discovery Lake and take walks around it....it always felt like we were living a day that was torn out of a book it was so perfect.

I've been watching the new HS construction, I'm just tickled. My son was in one of the last graduating classes out of the old HS (he had his choice of going to either SMHS or Mission Hills) and we're thrilled that future students will have a brand new campus. They deserve it...

Also been following the Creek District and like you love the plans. Check out the plans for the University area, they look awesome too.

The marine layer does come in during certain times of year, but usually burns off by noon.

I'm sure you are already developing your own favorite spots, but here are a few excellent places to eat in SM:

http://www.carmelacucina.com/

http://www.sublimealehouse.com/

http://www.canapesgrill.com/index.php (outdoor dining with live music)

We also tried a new place - Cool Hand Lukes at 110 Knoll Road - last week and it was great too...very kid friendly and the one person (but really fed 2) build-your-own 3 topping pizza was fantastic...ppl were coming up and asking us to point it out on the menu so they could order it too.

Enjoy your new home and we're very happy you chose San Marcos! :-)

Submitted by sdrealtor on March 31, 2012 - 12:38pm.

I love Carmela's. Its owned by the nephew of a family that owns a bunch of very popular italian restaurants in South Jersey where I grew up. One of them was a bar/restaurant on the beach in Margate, NJ. Twenty years ago I walked into the bar on Labor Day weekend. I locked eyes with a beautiful girl, exchanged smiles, then numbers, feel in love and had a couple kids.

Submitted by lpjohnso on April 3, 2012 - 1:01am.

CA Renter and svelte, thank you so, so much for your kind words! We are so grateful, proud and happy to be San Marcos homeowners! I really appreciate all of the great recommendations for local eateries! I can not wait to try them all out! sdrealtor, that's a very sweet story!

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 3, 2012 - 9:09am.

Is cal state nearby. Do people go there for cultural stuff?

Submitted by lpjohnso on April 4, 2012 - 6:31pm.

Yes and yes! I know there are a lot of cultural happenings, but unfortunately I have yet to partake. The college is 1-2 miles away from the Discovery Hills neighborhood depending where you are. Leave the neighborhood, and go south on Craven Drive until it dead ends at the college. It's super easy, safe and direct.

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