We arrived in San Francisco on September 16, exactly 13 months after we left. I took one look at the rental market on Craigslist and gasped. It seemed that rents had doubled in the time we’d been gone. Well, not exactly, but two-bedroom apartments were going for more than double what we first paid for our one-bedroom five years earlier. Even if we stuck with another one-bedroom, we’d easily be paying $600-800 more per month than a year before.
And so, at the end of our first week in San Francisco, we found ourselves attending a four-hour long first-time home buyers class. We didn’t even have jobs yet! But I knew that eventually we would. In the meantime, I had nothing better to do than get educated. More than anything, I didn’t want to fritter away a year or two of rent hemming and hawing if we pictured ourselves eventually paying into a mortgage. Let’s bite the bullet now (while housing prices have stabilized and mortgage rates are at historical lows).
By the middle of our second week in San Francisco, we both had respectable job offers. So I called up some mortgage brokers and explained our special situation. If we had to wait a year or two to rebuild our financial history, I wanted to know that sooner rather than later. But on the contrary, I got the sense that given our spotless credit, lack of debt, and my remaining savings, our year-long absence from the workforce wouldn’t pose that much of a problem as long as we could provide documentation of our previous salaries, had at least a month or two worth of paystubs from our soon-to-be new jobs, and hadn’t changed careers. This was a watershed moment. If the banks would lend us the money, we could do this.
On our third week in San Francisco, I met with a team of two real estate agents that had been recommended to me by my tax accountant. They seemed professional and straightforward—so I decided to start working with them. That weekend (Oct 9th) we visited more than half a dozen open houses. Nothing really won us over, but we got a good sense of the properties on the market and within our price range. The very next day I started my new job (Stephanie had already been working for a week) and the day after that, we moved into a furnished studio with a month-to-month lease (after having spent the previous three weeks crashing with several very generous friends).
Continue reading Adventures in real estate, part two…