Open Houses As Far As the Eye Can See

This weekend, Juliette and I went out to look at houses for the first time. We've been thinking about buying now for a couple of years but the time hasn't been right and we didn't have the money. For that matter, we still don't have the money, but apartment life is getting old and we're feeling like we should start seriously thinking about our future as adults and as a family.

It's kind of a daunting task. San Diego is a fast-growing city and, consequently, there are a whole lot of houses on the market. According to one of the agents we met at an open house this afternoon, there are over 170 properties listed in our area alone. That makes for a lot of legwork, even after narrowing it down to our price range.

Speaking of price range, ours turns out to be quite on the low side. Let me give you a few numbers that I pulled off of Coldwell Banker's web site. According to them, the average sale price in San Diego is currently about $628,000, which isn't even all that much by California standards. A 20% down payment would be $125,600--quite a large chunk of change, but let's assume that somehow we were able to put together that much. That leaves a mortgage amount of $502,400. Plugging those numbers into the payment calculator gives a monthly mortgage payment of $3,262 plus a PMI payment of $133. Assuming a 1% property tax rate--in reality it would be higher, but for the sake of this example I'll lowball it--the monthly amount we'd have to put aside would be $523. All of that adds up to a total monthly payment of $3918, and that's without homeowner's insurance or HOA fees. Multiply that by 12 and you get a total annual payment of $47,016.

The whole thing is more than a little bit discouraging, especially considering that I've always wanted to do it on my own. Realistically speaking, though, there's little chance that we'll be able to buy a house without significant help from our families. It's been hard for me to admit that--independence and self-sufficiency are two of the values most ingrained in me. But real independence is kind of an illusion. As they say, no man is an island--there's no way I could have gotten to where I am without the support, both emotional and financial, of the people around me. Coming to terms with that fact and convincing myself that it's alright to ask for help has been one of the bigger issues in my adult life.

I'm trying to stay positive, even if that might not be apparent from this rant. We went to four open houses this weekend, and even though all of them were out of our reach, some of them were close. Finding the right place will be a lot of work, but it may yet be possible.