Can’t Find a House to Buy? These Ideas May Help

Can’t Find a House to Buy? These Ideas May Help

Are you trying to buy a house right now? It may be hard to compete with investors. Here are some ideas you may not have thought of.

Some sellers don’t want to accept an offer from a buyer who has to wait for a mortgage since investors are offering cash.

If you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you know how long a mortgage can take. Even if you are pre-qualified, it takes a lot of time for the seller to receive the money. I just looked it up and right now it is taking an average of 51 days to close. And it can take even more time.

Some houses are selling for more than a mortgage company is willing to loan on them, too.

Investors are buying houses “as-is.” Your mortgage company may not accept that. They may require some repairs before they are willing to loan on a house.

Investors are waiving “due diligence.” You may not be able to afford to take that chance.

What can you do?

Do You Have Retirement Money to Use?

You may be able to offer cash, too. If you have a retirement account, you may be able to use that to buy a house. If you are buying your first home or you or your spouse haven’t owned a home in at least two years, you don’t even have a penalty. Or you may be able to borrow against it. Talk to someone where your retirement money is to find out how much you have and how you can use it.

Even if you don’t have enough to buy the house outright, you may be able to give the seller a large enough down payment right away. That may make them more willing to wait for you to get a mortgage.

Consider Building Instead

Consider Building

Find land where you want to live and have the house you want built on it. If you qualify for a mortgage to finance an existing home, you likely qualify for a construction loan to build a house.

Some construction loans convert to a traditional mortgage once the house is complete. Or get a mortgage to pay off the construction loan once the house is built.

If you can’t afford the land, you can get a lot loan or land loan. Some construction loans can include the money for the land. Land-only loans often have a higher interest rate. If you already own a house, you may be able to get a Home Equity Loan to buy land, then pay it off when you finish your new house and sell your old house.

Some modular companies will finance the home for you with the land as your surety.

Photo by A’eron Blackman

How To Find Land

You can start with real estate agents. Not all real estate agents have anything to do with selling land without a house on it, so ask around.

Think about where you really want to live. Drive around and see if there are any For Sale signs on lots.

In nearly every neighborhood, there are a few empty lots. You can ask the neighbors if they know who owns them. Sometimes it is someone in the neighborhood.

Ask around. Sometimes you can get a really good deal on land where someone has had a building project interrupted. We found a piece of land already leveled and with the driveway and a garage already finished. The sellers were including the house plans and some of the materials they had already purchased and stored in the garage.

Before You Talk To Neighbors

Look like a neighbor they want to have. Give your best first impression.

Someone pulled into my driveway to ask about the empty house across from us. They screamed at their kids from my porch. The kids got out and ran around. When they opened the car door, fast food wrappers fell out. I did not want these people to be my neighbors.

GoMaps: GIS (Geographic Information System) Map

Look Up the Owners

A lot of areas have a GIS (Geographic Information System) Map available to find out who owns land.  The one around here is called GoMaps. There is a link to it from the county website.

To find out who owns a piece of land, put in the address of the land or the address of one of the neighbors.

Look for anything that doesn’t have a house on it. When you click on it, the borders light up and the results will show who owns the land and what their mailing address is. You can also find out if the land is in a flood plain.

It gives the land value that they are taxed on, which can help give an idea what to offer for the land. Click on the neighboring properties to see what their land value is, too. See if any nearby land has sold recently.

Then contact the owners to see if they might be interested in selling. Make a reasonable offer. Even if they say no, ask them to take your number in case they change their mind. Or suggest they talk to a real estate agent who can give them a fair value.

Being nice goes a very long way. Don’t think you will get a better price by insulting their land. People like to be helpful. Tell them how much you love the neighborhood and how much you look forward to raising a family there.

Remove an abandoned house to build your new home

Look for Abandoned Houses

Keep your eyes open for houses that are not habitable. Sometimes you can find a really nice piece of property at a really good price if you have to remove a deteriorated or half burned structure from the property.

Make sure you count the cost of removing the building. It may cost more than you think, especially if it is large and has a lot of stone or concrete.

Other Things to Think About

  • It is going to cost more to build if there is no power, sewer, or roads close to your building site.
  • Be very sure about zoning and land-use restrictions.
  • Make sure about the survey boundaries.
  • If the land is not level, a foundation may cost more.
  • How much will it cost to put in a driveway?
  • Is water available? If not, how much will it be to dig a well?
  • Is there access to other utilities? How much will that cost?
  • In some areas you can live in a camper while you build. But, in many areas you can’t. Find out before you make your plans.
  • Are there rules on the size house you have to build?

It is harder to buy a house right now. But these ideas may help.