A First-Time Home Buyer Enters Real Estate Never-Neverland

———–

———–

DO I DARE TO BUY A HOUSE?

Even itinerate chefs like myself need a place to lay my head, and to store my pots and pans. I’ve been a renter all my life and until recently never believed I could afford to buy a home in the Bay Area. No doubt I was spoiled, living as I did for 20 years in an affordable rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood (where the median home price now is around $950,000). But on my income, buying even a small condo in San Francisco was utterly unrealistic. And when my days in the rent controlled apartment came to an end, continuing to rent in San Francisco would have been a nightmare. Not wanting to spend half my income on rent, I ended up in Vallejo, very nearly the Bay Area’s last bastion of affordable housing. Finally, this year it dawned on me that in Vallejo it’s now cheaper to buy than to rent. While in most of the Bay Area, home prices have declined since 2007, in Vallejo they’ve plunged. Foreclosures are rampant, and homes which sold for $300,000 in 2006 are on offer for 80 or 90 thousand now. I am sorry so many people have lost their homes, but the city will die if someone doesn’t buy and revitalize these foreclosures. Thus was born, for the first time in my life, a case of real estate fever. Long story short, with the generous help of some family members, I’m armed with a down payment and the determination to become a home owner. I’ve researched the real estate market segment which interests me: small, probably two bedroom, one bath homes built in the teens to the forties of the 20th century, and priced around $100,000, or, hopefully, under. Being an older city, Vallejo has homes built in every decade from about the 1870’s to the present.  Mediterranean homes from the 1930’s are my preferred style, but I also like craftsman and 1940’s ranch houses. Consumed as I am with house hunting, I’d like to share with you a little bit of what is out there. Take a look at some houses of interest, including one on which I made an offer, after the jump…

———–

This 1911 craftsman, pictured top and in the middle in the photo above, was offered at $84,900. While I loved it's style and location, at 738 sq. ft., it just seemed too tiny.

———– Continue reading