The Misery and Heartbreak of Trying to Buy an FHA-Approved Condo in New York City and Jersey City

Over the past couple of weeks, Janna and I were given a hardcore beatdown in the housing market as we tried to figure out how, when, and where to finally buy our first home in Jersey City or New York City.  We quickly found that an FHA loan — a Federally-sponsored mortgage program where you only have to put down 3.5% of the purchase price instead of the standard 20% — is but a dip in the yonder horizon:  A great idea in theory, but an impossible dream in reality.

The 2008 housing crash ruined everything for the first-time home buyer.  Nobody trusts anybody now.  Everybody’s playing an angle.  Everyone wants a quick and fast and dirty deal and nobody wants to deal with the red tape the FHA loans now require.

As one of Janna’s Black co-workers told her, “An FHA mortgage means to sellers and brokers that you’re Black and can’t afford a real down payment.  They don’t want to deal with that.  Try again later when you have more cash for 20% down.”

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Renting the American Dream

After 20 years of renting a life on the East Coast — that’s what you do out here because purchasing an apartment or a house is incredibly expensive because the AVERAGE price of a one-bedroom apartment in New York City is now a cool $1,000,000.00 USD — we are now thinking it might be best to look into buying our share of the American Dream instead of renting it away.

99.99% of the people we know rent. Where do we start to buy? Can you do it all with a bank loan or do you have to bring a chunk of your own saved money for a down payment to the table first? Do you find a real estate agent at the start of the process or only at the finish? Is now a good time to buy an apartment or a house?

Is there a New York neighborhood or town or village reachable by train near New York City that would be more affordable than Manhattan or Queens? I know there are books and magazines dedicated to this topic, but sometimes there are hidden self-interests in those publications.