Author Topic: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns  (Read 3524 times)

kakapo

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Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« on: June 09, 2014, 08:28:16 PM »
Currently live in Waltham, MA and have been renting ever since we moved here to Boston for the last 15 years. Rent is cheap, includes heat & hot water and costs in the low 900s (started at low 700s when we first moved in).
Now we're prepared to buy a home and have at least 20% down ready and are looking for a place in the 300-400k range.
We found that for that range, we could live in Marlborough,MA and find a place in the range of 250k-350k (MMM principal). Our realtor thinks we're making a big mistake by doing so because of the following:
- There is nothing in Marlborough. Its a city with only one good charter school (highly ranked in MA) but public schools are so-so.
- Surrounding 'Boroughs' have great schools resulting in families living there but commuting to Marlborough (8-15 minutes commute) for work
- Young professionals tend to live in Waltham (halfway between Marlborough and Boston)
- This makes renting out a house/condo difficult since while the market is very hot in most places in MA, its pretty dismal in Marlborough - real estate takes a relatively longer time to move there

Me:
- I work from home but do travel to the airport to fly out if I have a project in another state (Fly out Monday, return Thurs/Fri) depending on the project.
- S.O, works from home part time. No travel.
- No Kids (no plans to have any)

Situation:
- Found a condo that we really liked and we are almost certain we can get it for lower than the accessed value (probably low 300s). HOA is 100-200/month.
- We stay at home most of the time but do go to the city on the weekends
- We're not the sort to 'move' around to a new place so we do see ourselves living in a place for at least 10-15 years.

Concerns:
- Marlborough is 45 minutes away from Boston. I could lose my job and then I could be doing a 45 minute commute to Boston.
- I might need to move and then it would be difficult to sell the unit since it this one has been on the market for 3 months (tried to sell it last year and no one bit). There is nothing wrong with the condo in terms of issues in general.
- Comparable condos in a more popular area are significantly more expensive (at least 25% more). We've not found one that we liked (or can afford) even after looking at over 50+ open houses.

Would the logical thing be to:
1. Wait for something to come up that will match what we're looking for in our price range (we obviously have to look at things closer to 400s) in a more 'desired' location?
2. Are we being too blinded by the fact that we are getting more 'bang' for the buck at the unit we're thinking of purchasing? Personally I would rather have no debt than to pay another 75k+ for a place but I do understand that being able to rent it out or sell it is also just as important.
3. Can some of you please beat some sense into me so that I don't have to constantly think about this place anymore if I shouldn't even be considering it in the first place.

Another Reader

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2014, 08:51:14 PM »
Location, location, location...

If I could rent in Waltham in the $900's with heat and hot water included, why would I drive farther out for the privilege of owning a condo in a city with a long commute and a poor quality school district?  It may be cheaper to buy there in a hot market, but it will be a lot harder to sell in a balanced market or worse, a buyer's market.  If it's not moving in a hot market, it's likely overpriced and in a location that's not highly valued by the market.  In your shoes, I would listen to your agent and pass on this unit.

The assessed tax value is meaningless.  Look at recent comparable sales to estimate value.  If it could be had for a "bargain" price, it would have sold.    The sellers are probably unrealistic, especially since this is their second try.

greaper007

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2014, 09:08:17 PM »
Location, location, location...

If I could rent in Waltham in the $900's with heat and hot water included, why would I drive farther out for the privilege of owning a condo in a city with a long commute and a poor quality school district?  It may be cheaper to buy there in a hot market, but it will be a lot harder to sell in a balanced market or worse, a buyer's market.  If it's not moving in a hot market, it's likely overpriced and in a location that's not highly valued by the market.  In your shoes, I would listen to your agent and pass on this unit.

The assessed tax value is meaningless.  Look at recent comparable sales to estimate value.  If it could be had for a "bargain" price, it would have sold.    The sellers are probably unrealistic, especially since this is their second try.


Agreed, though it could work if they lived in the place for a couple of years and then turned it into a rental.   

kakapo

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2014, 09:32:52 PM »
Awesome - keep the comments coming - appreciate it very much
Btw, i have no commute at the moment but your responses are totally valid.

Another Reader

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2014, 10:30:54 PM »
It's not your commute.  It's the average buyer's commute.  It's a LONG drive into Boston.  People that work in Marlborough don't want to live in Marlborough, so a short local commute benefits few potential buyers. 

cynthia1848

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2014, 08:59:28 AM »
Eh.  I would pass.  Keep looking for something with a better resale value if you were to sell in the future.  Plus 45 minutes - 1 hr to get into the city is a LOT even on the weekend or for your traveling days.

windypig

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2014, 09:08:43 AM »
Consider some of the cheaper up and coming parts of Boston, Hyde Park, Roslindale, parts of Dorchester. You can buy a single family here for under your price range listed and the MBTA has released their capital investment plan which includes converting the fairmount commuter rail into part of the subway system (scheduled for 2024). You also benefit from extremely low taxes here (with residential exemption). You also benefit from the stability and desirability of having the Boston proper address, and you are in the commuter rail zone 1a or 1, which is pretty cheap and provides quick access to downtown.

starbuck

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2014, 11:31:25 AM »
It doesn't sound like you actually want to live in Marlborough, so I would recommend not moving to Marlborough. How did you decide on that location anyways? To be closer to family? With your budget and no office to commute to, you could basically move to many many metro Boston areas, even Boston proper, especially if you have no plans for kids. Getting to Logan is easy enough from all of metro Boston.

I would look for a place near a T station or commuter rail to make getting into the city simpler. And check out the north and south shores too, not just metro west.

Also, your rent is pretty awesome and I wouldn't be so quick to give that up. You could also rent in the area you intend to buy in, to make sure it's a good fit. That's the great thing about renting!

kakapo

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Re: Buying a home in the suburbs with no commute but concerns
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2014, 12:24:12 PM »
Thanks for the responses - I know it shouldn't matter to most people but the responses from the community here actually helps clear the state of my mind knowing that what I was about to do would have been a bad decision on our part. However we've been looking for the last 4 months and have seen so many homes, we were at a point of desperation because most of the homes we've seen didn't appeal to us at all except for this one.

We've tried driving to Boston, Hyde Park and Roslindale and the more affordable areas there unfortunately tend to be in a sketchy neighborhood. And the 'nicer' ones have been bidded up by at least 5% (we've been using RedFin alerts to compare the list and sold prices in the neighborhoods we are interested in).

Living in Waltham is actually very convenient - everything is almost a reverse commute for me (historically). Just a little bizarre but Waltham has more renters than owners (over 50% are renters according to Trulia).

As for the rent, I really can't complain except for the space, living in a 500 sqft place isn't the most ideal as while we don't have a lot of things (we have a donate rule where anything not used after 2 years need to be donated), it would be nice to have a few more things like 'space'. We don't need a huge place but after visiting so many places with different 'sizes', we've actually realized that something in the range of 1100-1400 is more well suited for our needs (we've been holding off on a couple of cats).

I need to keep reminding myself that I shouldn't rush things but looking at how the market is going, its hard to feel like i'm going to 'miss' something we would like- however we have to be practical too and try to make sure we don't do anything irrational like what I was about to do.

PS: we've got no family in the US, we're from Asia but we do call the US our home.