A safe neighborhood that we can afford?

User Forum Topic
Submitted by jfel on July 7, 2016 - 1:01pm

Hi-I’m new here. I’m a stay at home mom just trying to do some research about the current real estate market in San Diego County. I’ve been reading the user forums and looking at Rich’s past posts for a couple of weeks, trying to educate myself as much as possible.

Admittedly, a lot of the information in Rich’s posts is over my head and my husband and I are probably in an entirely different demographic than most the users on this site. But I’m hoping none of you will bite, and that some of you would be willing to give me your .02 anyway.

Our situation: my husband makes about 50-60k (before taxes), we have a 1 1/2 year old and a baby on the way. Recently I lost my parents and have inherited a small goose-egg.

We have decided to put about 250k aside to use as a down payment. Since we are low earners, in general we don't want monthly payments (including prop taxes and insurance) to exceed $1200 so that we can meet our savings and investing goals. We do not have any debt, we never carry a balance on our cards, and in general we try to live within our means. We have great credit, in the 700-750 range.

Currently we are renting a 3/2 house in the South Bay at a once in a lifetime deal. Our lease is month-to-month as the owner is an elderly woman who is holding on to this house purely for sentimental reasons; her grown kids plan to sell once she passes. We just received news from our landlord that leads me to believe we may have to move soon.

What we’re looking for: Safety is the number one priority, as my husband’s current job leaves us alone for 24-48 hours at a time. We want to live somewhere where I can take my kids out on a walk around the neighborhood without needing my husband present.

We are trying to avoid HOAs and MR and ideally we would want a 3 bedroom detached house with 1000-1300 sf plus a garage (or a big enough lot for a shed.) We are not super handy but don't mind cosmetic repairs/upgrades.

What do you think? Does this exist in SD county in our price range without compromising safety? At my estimate, we can't comfortably afford anything over 400k (or borrowing 150k.)

My fear is that if we bought right now, we’d be buying pretty high. I’m tempted to wait (as long as we can) until prices drop again. Am I holding my breadth in vain? Looking at some property history, 4 years ago, our 250 down would have gotten us into much more desirable neighborhoods.

I saw natesactm’s post about our current housing situation being a classic echo bubble. Tried to do a little more research on that and I’m not finding too much from reliable sources. What do you all think?

Submitted by harvey on July 7, 2016 - 1:35pm.

Temecula

Of course commuting distance could be an issue. But if your husband works long shifts or travels, an extra hour on top of 24-48 is a small cost.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 2:09pm.

If you are currently living in South Bay (SD County?), I don't understand why you can't walk in the neighborhood without your spouse present. Plenty of people do, including walking their dogs ... even at night and also while pregnant! Maybe I misunderstood and you can but you feel you will have to vacate soon due to the ill health and possibly imminent death of the owner. Why don't you remind your landlords that their property tax will be very low (likely just $100's per yr) if they hang onto the property and rent it to you for a few more years and that they will lose this low assessment forever if they sell it? Ask them for a 5-year lease. That is what renters of single family homes in LA County are successfully doing ... and getting ... right and left!

The lot and home you are looking for DOES exist in 91911 and 91910 in South County SD. Unfortunately, I don't see you finding it in South County SD for =<$400K .... UNLESS it is a heavier fixer than you are capable of DIYing (rotted subfloor; needs jacked up on a corner; heavy dry rot; eaves, roof and underlayment need replacing, etc) OR it is located in NC (91950, both city and unincorporated). I am a woman who would feel safe walking alone or with my dog on most NC streets and NC is only 5-6 miles from Lindbergh Field!

harvey mentioned Temecula but that is 72-75 miles from where you currently reside and it may not be feasible for your family to consider (way too far from airports, etc).

I would suggest you also consider El Cajon (92020/92021), Santee or Lakeside for the same type of house/lot you can find in National City and Chula Vista in your price range. However it would tend to be slightly newer (mid/late '60's as opposed to '40's thru early '60's in South County) and slightly larger (1400-1500 sf as opposed to 1100-1200 sf in South County). El Cajon and Lakeside have the lot size you are looking for. Santee may have a few larger lots BUT they would likely surround a county compound which houses the Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility among other ugly behemoth county agencies. It's isn't very pretty around there and it is very warm because it is surrounded on nearly 3 sides by hills which tend to block low-lying pollution into this micro area. In addition, the area is poorly zoned (industrial/comm'l mixed with residential). Most of the other areas of Santee are going to have HOAs and even MR.

If you can go as high as $435-$460K, I think you could find something you could work with (over a period of months/years after moving in) in SD South County and you could stay in your cooler (and much more convenient) general area.

Submitted by no_such_reality on July 7, 2016 - 2:12pm.

Is the landlord of sound mind? Does she like you? Can the sentimental reasons for her holding it be converted into a sentimental helping a nice family live new memories or the memories she's holding on to via a rent to own or a rent to own, purchase and landlord carry a private note back?

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 2:13pm.

I don't believe in "bubbles" and "echo bubbles." It's not ever going to get any cheaper to buy a home in SD County, ESPecially an SFR which is well-located.

Our last RE "bubble" (of 2004 thru 2007) was artificially caused by lax lending, which isn't going to ever happen like that again.

Anyone who needs a house for their family and doesn't have a reasonable locked-in rental deal for the duration and is qualified to buy is a fool for waiting for another crash to do so. Their kids will likely be grown and out of the house and it will never happen.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 2:31pm.

no_such_reality wrote:
Is the landlord of sound mind? Does she like you? Can the sentimental reasons for her holding it be converted into a sentimental helping a nice family live new memories or the memories she's holding on to via a rent to own or a rent to own, purchase and landlord carry a private note back?
All good suggestions. And if she has already put her kids on title, then a nice 5-yr rent-to-own deal might be able to be worked out ... or owner carryback. The OP's situation is a classic example of a good safe reason why the owner and her heirs would want to accept from them a 1st trust deed on the property.

Submitted by carlsbadworker on July 7, 2016 - 2:38pm.

First of all, there is no need to fear. You seem like a person with good financial discipline so that will make your financial outlook much better than the general public. The echo bubble is frustrating, yes. But don't compare it with 4 years ago, because should've/could've is irrelevant. And you weren't in a position to buy 4 years ago anyway.

Second, I actually think $250K down for a $400K house is a bad idea...no matter how low you want the payment to be. The real risk for home purchasing is liquidity that many people drained out their savings with the down payment that makes them less well prepared for the future uncertainty. I wouldn't invest bulk of your saving on an investment vehicle that only carries less than 3.5% return (not counting mortgage interest deduction). I would take conventional 80% loan and save the money for emergency fund and future investment opportunity (although there are depressingly few such opportunities right now)

Third, the last few years have been very challenging to the long-term value based investment. Don't lose hope just yet. The basic driver for long-term value working historically has been the excessive volatility of asset prices relative to their underlying fundamental cash flows, and recent history does not show any evidence of that changing. Every bubble falls back to trend line and there has been no exception. Remember that you are paid to rent if your rents provides better cashflow compared to owning. Historically, the cashflow from real estate investment isn't necessarily better than any other investment vehicle (e.g. index fund), it sounds better to a lot of people only because they leveraged with home purchase.

Lastly, Temecula is a wonderful city. Check it out sometime.

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 7, 2016 - 3:07pm.

bearishgurl wrote:
I don't believe in "bubbles"

Classic... is that you, Greenspan?

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 7, 2016 - 3:12pm.

Hi jfel - Homes are definitely expensive but they really don't compare to the mid-2000s bubble, and I don't think there is anywhere near the risk of buying as there was back then.

There's more in this article (from last year but the situation hasn't changed a whole lot since then)...

http://piggington.com/shambling_towards_...

... including the state of valuations and what those valuations imply about the future. Hopefully something in there of interest to you. You mentioned that some of the articles are too nerdy for you but if you have specific questions, post them here and I can try to clarify.

Rich

Submitted by La Jolla Renter on July 7, 2016 - 3:19pm.

We really need more data. How old are you and your husband? Will his income go up or is he at the top of his earning potential? How long do you plan to be a stay at home mom? Will you earn an income down the road? Any home improvement skills or DIYers? How important are the schools your kids go to? Do you demand 9 or 10 out of 10 on the rating scale? What are some of your top choice neighborhoods?

I'm probably of the camp that leans toward putting minimal down and invest the rest.

Great ideas to "work" the little old lady on a deal to buy or stay. But if that angle doesn't work, you need to compare rent vs buy with your new market rent. I think the buy camp wins out.

Submitted by The-Shoveler on July 7, 2016 - 4:25pm.

My 2 cents
I would not say that a bubble/bust would not occur again in SD, but I don't see enough new homes going up currently to match household formation so IMO we are likely to remain in a housing squeeze for a few more years at least (maybe 5).

Also your savings purchasing power is likely to be eaten away by inflation over that period as well.

Bottom line:
We may have another housing bust someday but it is very (VERY) unlikely to come anywhere close to the bust in 2009-11.

If you can find something (even in Temecula etc...) buy it.

The above assumes the whole world economy does not get sucked into a black hole in the next few years.

Anyway IMO

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 5:40pm.

carlsbadworker wrote:
. . . Second, I actually think $250K down for a $400K house is a bad idea...no matter how low you want the payment to be. The real risk for home purchasing is liquidity that many people drained out their savings with the down payment that makes them less well prepared for the future uncertainty. I wouldn't invest bulk of your saving on an investment vehicle that only carries less than 3.5% return (not counting mortgage interest deduction). I would take conventional 80% loan and save the money for emergency fund and future investment opportunity (although there are depressingly few such opportunities right now) . . .
I agree with this, carlsbad worker. But with just $50-$60K annual income for a family of soon-to-be 4, the OP and her spouse are not going to be able to qualify for an 80% LTV conventional loan. At least not one which would allow them to buy a single family residence in SD Co, CA.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 5:50pm.

La Jolla Renter wrote:
We really need more data. How old are you and your husband? Will his income go up or is he at the top of his earning potential? How long do you plan to be a stay at home mom? Will you earn an income down the road? Any home improvement skills or DIYers? How important are the schools your kids go to? Do you demand 9 or 10 out of 10 on the rating scale? What are some of your top choice neighborhoods?

I'm probably of the camp that leans toward putting minimal down and invest the rest.

Great ideas to "work" the little old lady on a deal to buy or stay. But if that angle doesn't work, you need to compare rent vs buy with your new market rent. I think the buy camp wins out.

All good questions, LJR. Especially asking about the OP's own income potential down the road. I would add that a buyer looking for a ~$400K (or less) SFR in SD County (and doesn't want MR) would be hard pressed to be able to buy in the attendance area of a public school rated a "9." And not sure if SD County has any public schools rated a "10." Please correct me if you know of any. If the OP was willing to buy a condo (w/HOA dues & even MR) perhaps they could find something in the attendance area of a public school rated a "9." I'm thinking in Otay Ranch (CV 91914/91915).

Buyers in the OP's price range really can't make those kinds of "demands" in SD County (or even those in LA/Orange Counties) unless they're willing to buy a condo. The good news is, elementary schools rated an "8" are still very good schools. And even those which are rated a "7" if enough of the parents are involved and it has been "improving" over the last few years.

Submitted by phaster on July 7, 2016 - 6:23pm.

Rich Toscano wrote:
bearishgurl wrote:
I don't believe in "bubbles"

Classic... is that you, Greenspan?

BUT a believer in the tooth fair?? the solvency of public pensions??? etc????

bearishgurl wrote:
phaster wrote:
all wrote:
bearishgurl wrote:

There is a reason for everything. I'll just leave it at that.

No! Not another cliffhanger!
Let me guess, John Snow's spirit lives through his pup?

its the weekend so just thought I'd drop in and see if there was any reply to the pension debate

http://piggington.com/how_will_unfunded_...

I see there is no-response so guess that cliffhanger is on hold for a while....

FYI, phaster, I know you've been waiting with bated breath but I just want you to know that I have that PERB Decision of 12/29/15 sitting right here on top of my desk printed out with stick-note tabs throughout. I had to leave it to take a couple of jobs and have been working on taxes this weekend as I have been preparing returns for other family members who need them done ASAP for other purposes. I DO HOPE to get my opinion of it posted here soon and I do sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. PERB is one of my very favoritist (is that a word?) gubment tribunals in the whole wide world and they serve an important purpose which no other entity can.

Thank you for your patience!

http://piggington.com/ot_predictions_201...

Submitted by barnaby33 on July 7, 2016 - 7:19pm.

So to paraphrase, you've already found one needle in a haystack and you are now looking for a second. Good luck jfel! I don't mean that sarcastically.

Does safety trump school quality? What's your maximum commute time, because where I grew up in 92082 was very safe, though rural. I wouldn't have called the schools awesome but they weren't bad.
Josh

Submitted by scaredyclassic on July 7, 2016 - 7:24pm.

temecula streets are safe.

u will love it here.

i walk every day on the street. weaponless. nothing bad happened.

Submitted by La Jolla Renter on July 7, 2016 - 8:31pm.

For me, I would do a condo or townhouse to get a top school for my kid and or a short commute. And would live in a less safe neighborhood to attend the best schools. If that scenario existed.

There are some 10's in San Diego county. Or at least by this scale.

http://www.school-ratings.com/counties/S...

If you have the home improvement skills, you could get a fixer and put some of your cash toward repairs. Done right, you could gain some sweat equity out of the gate.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on July 7, 2016 - 8:55pm.

La Jolla Renter wrote:
For me, I would do a condo or townhouse to get a top school for my kid and or a short commute. And would live in a less safe neighborhood to attend the best schools. If that scenario existed.

There are some 10's in San Diego county. Or at least by this scale.

http://www.school-ratings.com/counties/S...

If you have the home improvement skills, you could get a fixer and put some of your cash toward repairs. Done right, you could gain some sweat equity out of the gate.

I agree. Live like they do Europe in a small optimized home. Decorate it tastefully and send your kids to best public or private schools you can afford.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 9:19pm.

La Jolla Renter wrote:
For me, I would do a condo or townhouse to get a top school for my kid and or a short commute. And would live in a less safe neighborhood to attend the best schools. If that scenario existed.

There are some 10's in San Diego county. Or at least by this scale.

http://www.school-ratings.com/counties/S...

If you have the home improvement skills, you could get a fixer and put some of your cash toward repairs. Done right, you could gain some sweat equity out of the gate.

Thanks for posting that (SD County) chart, LJR. I glanced over it quickly and I just have one question for you, here. Can a condo (big enough for a family of 4 - one an infant) be purchased for =<$400K in those attendance areas in SD County which have public schools rated a "10"? I noticed a couple of "10" elementary schools in C-Bad, one in SR and 8 in Poway Unified (the cheapest? areas on the list with "10" schools). Also one in Otay Ranch, Chula Vista.

This is all assuming the OP does NOT want a lot big enough for a toolshed/outbuilding and will decide to pay HOA dues and possibly MR to "settle" for a condo. The OP also stated that they needed a PITI of no more than $1200 month and that didn't include HOA dues.

In sum, is buying a home in a "10" school attendance area actually feasible for these low to moderate income parents?

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 9:37pm.

I think the Piggs shouldn't "push their values" upon a new poster who has not indicated that they are "demanding" any particular public school rating.

One can't possibly know what it's like to live on $50-$60K year income for a family of four in SD Co, CA unless they themselves have personally tried it.

I'm on the rent/buy fence with the OP's situation here, as posted. As a single mom, I've personally spent nearly $5K on pest control alone over 15 years of ownership (sole ownership). And my income was never over $55K annually. I think home repairs/maintenance on an older home (or HOA and possible MR on a newer home/condo) could really eat into their savings for college/retirement. If I were the OP, I would try mightily to get my landlord (and her heirs, if necessary) to give me a 5 year lease OR do an owner carryback first TD and note for no more than $250K and no more than 1 pt over the current 30-yr fixed prevailing rate. If they insist on a straight note with a balloon payment, I would insist upon a 10 year note, which would give the OP time to go to work FT after her kids are in school FT and help her spouse qualify for a conventional refinance.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on July 7, 2016 - 9:51pm.

I would go for 1) commute of less than 30 min. 2) best schools possible.

If OP tells the general area her husband works then people could post better recommendations.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 7, 2016 - 10:03pm.

FlyerInHi wrote:
I would go for 1) commute of less than 30 min. 2) best schools possible.

If OP tells the general area her husband works then people could post better recommendations.

Agree with the commute time, FIH. But "best schools possible" in the ~$400K (or less) price range for a 3/2/2 (and a ~$1200 mo PITI payment) might actually be in an attendance area of a school rated a 7 or 8 (if you're lucky). And that's actually okay!

Since you have never been a parent, you have never had to face reality in this manner.

Submitted by La Jolla Renter on July 7, 2016 - 11:11pm.

Affluent family in San Fran and NYC live in pretty small apartments with kids. 900 - 1,000 sqft for a family of 4.

BG, I don't think we are pushing our values. Just our opinions for all readers to take it or leave it. But point taken.

Anyone have an idea of what the max mortgage a family in this situation could qualify for? The current guidelines seem pretty conservative.

What does 50-75 miles a day extra commute cost? A home right next to your office is probably worth $50k more in home price.

Submitted by The-Shoveler on July 8, 2016 - 6:18am.

La Jolla Renter wrote:
Affluent family in San Fran and NYC live in pretty small apartments with kids. 900 - 1,000 sqft for a family of 4.

BG, I don't think we are pushing our values. Just our opinions for all readers to take it or leave it. But point taken.

Anyone have an idea of what the max mortgage a family in this situation could qualify for? The current guidelines seem pretty conservative.

What does 50-75 miles a day extra commute cost? A home right next to your office is probably worth $50k more in home price.

Probably closer 500K more.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on July 8, 2016 - 8:43am.

bearishgurl wrote:
FlyerInHi wrote:
I would go for 1) commute of less than 30 min. 2) best schools possible.

If OP tells the general area her husband works then people could post better recommendations.

Agree with the commute time, FIH. But "best schools possible" in the ~$400K (or less) price range for a 3/2/2 (and a ~$1200 mo PITI payment) might actually be in an attendance area of a school rated a 7 or 8 (if you're lucky). And that's actually okay!

Since you have never been a parent, you have never had to face reality in this manner.

BG, I know lots with families kids and I observe.
I have it all planned out. One day I will adapt an orphan from a poor country and give him/her the best education in America and Europe, with frequent travel to the home country. That kid will grow up to be a polyglot super human.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on July 8, 2016 - 8:50am.

A 2/2 condo with loft/den is very doable for a family of 4. HOA usually includes water, trash and maintenance.
You just need to set it up the apartment neatly. If you chase the way other people live, then you'll never be happy.

Again it depends where work is.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 8, 2016 - 10:18am.

The-Shoveler wrote:
La Jolla Renter wrote:
Affluent family in San Fran and NYC live in pretty small apartments with kids. 900 - 1,000 sqft for a family of 4.

BG, I don't think we are pushing our values. Just our opinions for all readers to take it or leave it. But point taken.

Anyone have an idea of what the max mortgage a family in this situation could qualify for? The current guidelines seem pretty conservative.

What does 50-75 miles a day extra commute cost? A home right next to your office is probably worth $50k more in home price.

Probably closer 500K more.

Yes, shoveler ... true if the prospective homebuyer works in tech or biotech in SD. NOT true for service workers, retail/whse and restaurant mgmt and those professionals working in the FIRE industry.

And Temecula isn't 50-75 miles per day EXTRA commute to dtn SD and surrounds. You're forgetting that its a round trip daily. That is effectively 100-150 miles per day extra commute as opposed to buying a (typically) smaller, older home in the core of SD or South County .... or even North City (north of I-8 but still in metro SD) or SD East County.

Living in Temecula might be worth it for a SD North County inland worker (working in Esco, Poway or RB and surrounds). But I don't feel it's worth it for worker who works anywhere else in SD. There is a TON of daily traffic on I-15 and I-215 and the SR-71 (originating further up in Corona) is a constant stop and go h@llhole.

In short, the sacrifices with their time and lives made every work day by homeowners in the southeastern IE JUST to get a bigger, newer home for the same money aren't worth it. They're not worth it for a SD County worker nor are they worth it for an OC/LA County worker.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 8, 2016 - 10:48am.

A family of four can still buy a 3/2/2 or 3/2/1 SFR in SD County (within 15 miles of dtn SD) for $425 - $500K. Yes, it will typically have been built in the '50's thru the '80's and the vast majority of listings on the market at any time have had some remodeling done. It will typically be 1300 to 1900 sf. Millenial family homebuyers are flocking to the far-flung southeastern IE as well as buying small condos and PUDS in SD County (almost all encumbered with heavy MR) because the housing stock I mentioned above is not "appealing" to them.

They're essentially commuting over 3 hours per day to/from work and/or paying $200 - $700 month in HOA dues PLUS MR because they choose to. Very often, those choices are made during the buying process when the buyer(s) don't yet have a full picture of what their actual monthly budget is going to look like as a homeowner with minor kids (unpredictable expenses) and a possibly lo-o-o-ong daily commute. In essence, this important decision is made blindly and on emotion of how the "newer" place makes them "feel" with its 10-13' "soaring ceilings" which cost much more to heat and cool than a better-located, older (std 8' ceiling) home. They don't realize that if they just lived on a hill 3-5 miles from the coast/bay in SD County that their utility bills would have been cut in half (or even less than that!) over the far-flung lizardland "newer" home. And you can't tell them otherwise because they already know everything :=0

Submitted by The-Shoveler on July 8, 2016 - 12:02pm.

From the described "current job leaves us alone for 24-48 hours at a time"

Does not sound like he would be doing a daily commute

(most likely off hours as well).

TV may not be a bad option in such a case.

Submitted by bearishgurl on July 8, 2016 - 12:34pm.

The-Shoveler wrote:
From the described "current job leaves us alone for 24-48 hours at a time"

Does not sound like he would be doing a daily commute

(most likely off hours as well).

TV may not be a bad option in such a case.

I've lived alone (or with part-time kids) for the last 15+ years. I do NOT live in a gated community and do NOT have bars on my windows. I've gone on up to 3 mile (RT) walks by myself in my neighborhood and taken hundreds of shorter walks with my dog (she can't walk that far). My kid(s) have rode their bikes all over around here as do other neighborhood kids. Senior citizens up to 90 years old actually take walks to the bus stop and a few blocks around their residence ... some with a walker. Some of them are regulars and meet their friends at regular street corners to walk daily. Young military wives who rent around here stay home with babies and toddlers up to 8 months by themselves while their sponsor-spouse is deployed. Most of them walk several times per week, often with an infant in a front-pack, an older baby in a stroller and a ~3 yr old following on his/her tricycle. Even with all 3 at once! That's why I wanted the OP to clarify if she actually "feels" safe to walk in her current neighborhood.

The safety issue, along with being too overly concerned about the number of PC 290 registrants (registered "sex offenders") residing in a particular neighborhood is wa-a-a-ay overblown by many over-protective helicopter parents of today (the PC 290 group actually resides in nearly every zip code in the state). The "perception of safety" is in the eye of the beholder. Frequently, the people who feel the most safe in their neighborhoods are the ones who grew up there or have lived there the longest. Outsiders considering moving into a particular area often "perceive" it not to be "safe" based upon superficial physical attributes such as older homes, older streets, overhead lines, and non-tile roofs. Also due to the existence of mom-and-pop stores and small local businesses instead of big-box stores and large supermarkets which need a vehicle to get to. The perception of a particular area not being "safe" to live in or walk in is a crock of BS conjured up by ignorant "outsiders" who know nothing of the particular area, its "culture" or its people. In short, it is utter nonsense which causes prospective homebuyers to reject perfectly decent homes in established, very convenient areas which they can actually afford in a market which has had a dearth of resale listings for years in favor of moving far, far away from their jobs or "settling" for an overpriced newer condo with thin walls, multiple monthly fees and no yard for their kids.

Submitted by Coronita on July 8, 2016 - 6:03pm.

Quote:

Currently we are renting a 3/2 house in the South Bay at a once in a lifetime deal. Our lease is month-to-month as the owner is an elderly woman who is holding on to this house purely for sentimental reasons; her grown kids plan to sell once she passes. We just received news from our landlord that leads me to believe we may have to move soon.

Assuming you like where you live right now.. Have you considered asking the landlord if she or her heirs are planning on selling, and if so what would the price be? If she had already passed away, perhaps you might get a little lucky and none of her heirs are interested in keeping the place and want to dispose of it as soon as possible.
Doesn't hurt to ask imho.

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