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We got pretty close to buying a half-million dollar condo in south Orange County.

But in the end, Chad, Ian and I pulled our bids on the two condos in Mission Viejo: one was $550,00 and the other was $600,000 – both were short sales, meaning the owner owed the bank more than what he was selling the house for. They sounded like good deals, but we’ve decided to wait.

It was not just because of the article my brother sent me (but that helped), but for three other reasons:

1. A friend of the family who works with mortgage loans in Dana Point predicts that house prices could drop as much as 20% in the next year. So, even if we pay $30,000 this year in rent ($2,500 x 12), we might still come out ahead if we bid our time.

(although, my brother just sent me this quote: “Don’t wait to buy real estate, buy real estate and wait”!)

2. A condo is just not as good an investment as a single family residence, and a house is a little out of our price range right now (more than $600,000).

3. We  (the grown-ups involved) decided we should rent a place together and make sure we (everybody, including the kid) can live together amicably, for a while at least. (I do have difficult quirks – like I hate T.V. for instance…shows on DVD, I can handle – Give me Rome or Grey’s Anatomy any day, but regular commercial T.V. playing nonstop in the  background makes me feel barfy.)

So, now we are looking for 3 bed/3 baths rentals near Mission Viejo High School. If you want to see the kinds of places we are checking out, you can look here or here, but both those links will expire mid-September 2007. The perfect place will be roomy, have a separate bedroom and bath on the main floor, and a yard or greenbelt for Giselle. It would be even more perfect if there were bike trails nearby and enough room in the master bedroom for me to have an office space.

As for my own place in Joshua Tree, I signed a contract with First Choice Property Management last week. They will take half the first month’s rent and 10% of every rent thereafter to handle my property. I am also offering the first month’s rent FREE with a year’s lease. I decided to offer that little carrot after seeing that several rental houses have sat for three months or more! yikes. You have to be rich to be a slumlord. Can you hear my soul drip, drip, dripping out of my pocketbook?

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