House Shopping In Orange County

Boy, I am really feeling like an adult these days: first I turn in my master’s thesis; then I buy a new car (well, help Chad buy a new car); and also get driven around, and wined and dined by a real estate agent. All in the last few days – whew. feeling tired too.

I have spent three full days seeing houses, seeing about a dozen houses and condos each day. Looks like Chad, his brother, and I are going for a 3-bed, 2-bath house in Mission Viejo for around $600,000. That works out to a mortgage of $3,300 (or $3900 if you include taxes and insurance – which are paid bi-annually, but wisely accounted for monthly) You can see some of the places we have seen here, (but this link will expire July 23, 2007).

If it doesn’t work out with Chad’s bro, then Chad and I will more likely go for a condo around $521,000. That would work out to a monthly mortgage of $2,800 (3,300 with tax and insurance). With a condo there are also monthly association fees which run from $150-$300. With those fees, the cost of a condo is really only a few hundred less than a house – but on the other hand, we don’t want to put ourselves into that typical American mode of living a style of life we can’t really afford. I can see that it is going to be hard to keep myself in check.

[If we keep the house price under $521,000 and come up with 20% down (some through our own money and most through a second loan), it keeps our loan in the “Conforming Loan” category, which is the better interest rate for smaller loans. If we go over the Conforming Loan $417,000 range then we move into a slighter higher range with a Jumbo Loan.]

There are a lot of things to consider – like the school district, the neighborhood, the general feel of the house. The most difficult is the compromise between affordability and the knowledge of ownership. I walk into most condos and think, “Do I really want to own this??” It’s easier to fall in love with a house (like 23781 Via La Coruna! or 24361 Chrisanta Drive! both are in Mission Viejo, 92691 zip …), but more expensive. I do think that a house would hold its value better for eventual resale. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a house.

We have also been cruising the ‘net as well, not just double-checking value at, but also checking last sales price, taxes, and Days on the Market (DOM) at And a general MLS listing for south Orange County by OCCoastal Group can be found here.

Luckily, we three all have excellent FICA scores, which means that we are eligible for the best loans available. Any score over 750 is considered an “A” rank. I though my score was good (797) until I heard what Chad’s and his brother’s scores were. Chad’s score of 848 was the highest our loan officer had EVER ENCOUNTERED in his office. The average American score is 675. If you are interested in finding out your own, you can do it for free through one of the credit reporting agencies, like Experian.

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