Where can my sister buy in RI for 150-200K?
April 15, 2021 11:06 AM   Subscribe

My sister has been pre-approved for a $150K mortgage. We may be able to find her another 25-50K. She works in Providence, daycare is in Pawtucket. What are her best options in terms of what areas to look in?

She's a single lawyer with a dog working for the state attorney's office. Her office is downtown and the dog goes to daycare in Pawtucket daily. (The dog is 100% non-negotiable, and changing daycares is not possible because the dog has behaviour issues.)

1 bed is fine, 2 is better, a yard for the dog would be nice, safety is always an issue. She needs to get out of her current rental ASAP so nobody is going to be picky here -- houses, condos, apartments are all fine!

Where should she be looking?
posted by DarlingBri to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
So, a 150K is a really low amount to be able to afford by anyone working full time. When I punch into a calculator $15/hr, and relatively low credit, it spits back $170K. That mortgage payment is only $650/month or so.

If she works as a lawyer, my guess is that she earns more than $15/hr. If she, for instance, made $30/hr, which still feels low for a lawyer, she could easily afford a $300K house.

I think your situation is clear, and how you laid it out makes sense. She only wants a $150K mortgage. But, if she/you haven't considered it, why is that the limit? Did a bank tell you that maximum, or is it personal preference? And, if it's her personal preference, has that price preference factored in the commute or the cost of a house/condo that only costs $150K? It's likely not very safe, or have a yard.

If the bank gave you that limit, I would suggest reaching out to other banks/credit unions to shop around. It helps if you have a property in mind, but not necessary at all. Then, I think the next step is finding a realtor that's a good listener to find the perfect house!
posted by bbqturtle at 11:13 AM on April 15


Best answer: If she works as a lawyer, my guess is that she earns more than $15/hr. If she, for instance, made $30/hr, which still feels low for a lawyer, she could easily afford a $300K house.

Let's avoid saying "the criteria you've given us is wrong."

She works for the state attorney's office, so likely doesn't make much relative to private practice lawyers. She also probably has student loan / law school debt. You're not taking either of those factors into consideration. You're also ignoring any other financial obligations or constraints, all of which impact pre-approval amounts, as well as capacity for monthly payments.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:37 AM on April 15 [24 favorites]


There are a couple things you can do to narrow your search

- Check out the area on Redfin or Zillow and set your maximum price (and other requirements) to view the available stock.
- Look for information like median house price, avg days on the market, and avg price over asking for the city/neighborhood (available on Redfin or Zillow).
- Talk to a realtor! they will be able to tell you a lot about what you can get in your price range. No point in delaying this since you will need a realtor eventually.
posted by TurnKey at 11:40 AM on April 15


Zillow-surfing is one of my favorite hobbies, so I just plugged 200k in and hit go to see what comes up. Please note that I have never been to Rhode Island in my life, so I don't know relative merits of neighborhoods, commutes, etc. However! When I zoom out so the map includes both Providence and Pawtucket, properties for sale seem to be pretty evenly distributed across the map. (Contra, say, do the same thing for Seattle except set the price at 350k, and marvel at how everything remotely close to city limits vanishes. Ask me how I know!) This bodes well I think; you have a lot of suburbs/neighborhoods/general regions to pick from, which is awesome! The historic districts, large chunks of Darlington and most of Elmhurst/Mt. Pleasant seem pretty empty, but everything else has a nice, relatively evenly-distributed property listings. Most seem at least nicely photographed, which means someone cares about them and isn't just looking for a quick flip, which also bodes well.

The available stock seems to mostly be condos, a good mix of 1 and 2-br. There are a few houses; I clicked on two at random and one was basically a cash-only shell and clearly for investors, the other was quite cute and seemed basically turnkey-ready! The condos were a mix of cash-only weirdly grar and rather nice and quite appealing.

I'm going to assume your sister is reasonably familiar with the areas in and around Providence/Pawtucket, or at worst she can take a drive around and get a feel for the place. (Acknowledging that this is a somewhat ableist assumption on my part, and I apologize if your sister is a new transplant. Hopefully other folks in the thread can help with on-the-ground knowledge!) I'd pretty much follow TurnKey's advice from here -- look on Redfin and Zillow (they don't 100% overlap!) and get a feel for what's out there right now. Then start e-mailing realtors! They'll know the market better than any of us and, as TurnKey says, she'll need one eventually.
posted by kalimac at 12:03 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Ask your question as well on City Data Forum Rhode Island where you'll get a lot of local information about real estate, neighborhoods, schools, local services. There's a subthread on Providence. Sorry, link I tried didn't transfer over to Mefi, so just Google it.
posted by Elsie at 12:11 PM on April 15


Response by poster: So, a 150K is a really low amount to be able to afford by anyone working full time. When I punch into a calculator $15/hr, and relatively low credit, it spits back $170K. That mortgage payment is only $650/month or so.

She makes 67K a year. She has hundreds of thousands of dollars in school loans and a credit rating of 678.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:33 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


She makes 67K a year. She has hundreds of thousands of dollars in school loans and a credit rating of 678.

(Side note: make sure she's filing her ECF with Fedloan Servicing every year so she can get her PSLF! They are very very error-prone.)
posted by praemunire at 12:44 PM on April 15


I don't know the area, but it seems like if she's taking the dog to Pawtucket (sounds like a good place for a dog!) she should consider living close to the dog day care. Is public transit an option? If she could walk the dog to daycare and then hop on a bus to work it would lessen the stress, in my opinion.
posted by mareli at 12:49 PM on April 15


How is her transportation? It's much cheaper out in the country (e.g., out toward the western half of the state, like Foster/Gloucester), but...it's out in the country. *shrug*

I live in the suburbs: Cumberland, RI. The southern end of Cumberland is cheaper, as is Cumberland Hill (the NW corner of Cumberland toward Woonsocket). Woonsocket is cheap, too, but like much of Pawtucket or southern Cumberland or Central Falls, it's a poorer area.

If she searches for a condo closer to downtown providence, she can get into a nicer area. Maybe one of the converted mills?

Does she have a preference?
posted by wenestvedt at 12:57 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]




Oh hey, mareli! I used to live around the corner from there!

It’s a nice part of town. (I was commuting to Attleboro.)

She needs to be on the same side of downtown as Pawtucket. If she has to go through downtown in both directions twice a day...that will rapidly become unpleasant.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:02 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Yeah I think condo is going to be her best best in terms of space for $$. Here are a few in the general area, some of this depends what side of the river the dog daycare is at, in terms of what it would do to her commute.

- Beverage Hill Condo
- 39 Webster Street, lots of units (which might be a bad sign?)
- Condo priced to move in Providence on the Pawtucket side
- Nicer mill building, pet-friendly
posted by jessamyn at 4:34 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


A lot of housing stock in Rhode island is rough: I believe that we have the highest incidence of lead paint in the nation, for example.

But the old industrial mills that have been converted in the last decade or so are nice. One of my kid's middle school teachers lives in a mill in Cumberland, and it' dog friendly and next to the river, with a historic property 100 yards away. It's pretty great, honestly, other than the steep hill you have to drive up every winter morning.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:43 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: wenestvedt do you know what building it it? (In terms of preferences, she's priced out of all of her preferences so at this point we're just trying to get a sense of what's possible in her budget and then start viewing.)

What about Attleboro? Google tells me it's a 20 - 30 minute commute, how would the drive be in traffic?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:46 AM on April 16


Best answer: Traffic from any of the Attleboros shouldn't be too bad if she finds something in her price range. Seekonk is another option in MA. More of the traffic goes the opposite way with people commuting toward Boston, though it definitely gets congested both ways.

Where in Pawtucket is the doggy daycare? North Providence is another option not far from western Pawtucket that might be a little cheaper than Lincoln/Cumberland. This looks nice.
posted by geegollygosh at 5:00 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: That looks AMAZING.

Daycare is Esten Avenue, east of 95.

Do condos normally allow dogs or how does that work? I used to rent in Providence but don't even live in the US anymore and they're not really a thing here so I don't know anything about condos really.

Thanks everyone :)
posted by DarlingBri at 5:35 AM on April 16


Response by poster: (For anyone following the saga of RI condos, 39 Webster is low income housing and single residents need to be under 42K; the pet-friendly building on Douglas is cash buyers only. We are working on the rest!)
posted by DarlingBri at 4:15 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Sorry about the delayed response. It's Ashton Mills that I was thinking of. But I think most of the mill-rehab projects are pretty nice.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:29 AM on April 18


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