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Your First Home: What Can You Get for $200k?


As if I don’t get enough real estate as a full-time broker, I spend what little time I take off from work watching the HDTV show “House Hunters.” Why watch something I see day in and out? For the same reason anyone does — to compare. I sit there, thinking about my own house and wondering how much bigger it could be if it were in another state, or how I’d have no yard if I were somewhere else.

I’m used to San Diego, California; that’s my market. And you’re probably pretty familiar with your market and price ranges in the area where you live, even if you aren’t a broker.
Take a few minutes to play “House Hunters” and compare the differences in real estate throughout the country with a budget of $200,000. You might be surprised what you’ll find.

San Diego

While it’s rare to find a turnkey single-family house for $200,000 in America’s finest city (OK, I’m biased), this fully upgraded townhome in the neighborhood of Linda Vista is a gem. Close to the University of San Diego, beaches, and downtown, the area offers something for everyone. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a total of 1,200 square feet.

The interior of the townhouse has a washer and dryer, stainless steel appliances, LED lighting in the kitchen and ceiling fans throughout. The quiet backyard area is a perfect place to relax and view the picturesque Tecolote Canyon Natural Park just outside.

Examples of a $200k house in San Diego.

Examples of a $200k house in San Diego.

The monthly homeowner’s dues are $235. This townhome is listed at $250,000, which means it has a price per square foot of $208.33.

New York

The saying, “location, location, location” holds especially true in a high-priced area like New York City. You certainly aren’t able to get as much space for your money in New York as you are in a more rural or even suburban area, but to some people, the location makes the lack of space worth the price.

One example is this 455 square foot condo in Manhattan, which was listed at $199,000 and recently went under contract. This 2011 build is a two-bedroom, one-bath unit with central air, sustainable bamboo flooring, double glazed thermal windows, an open kitchen and energy-efficient appliances. Monthly fees for maintenance are $450.

Examples of a $200k house in New York City

Manhattan is a generally crowded area with emphasis on public transportation. An important aspect to remember about New York City is that there are historical buildings found nowhere else in the country. Although the location is perfect for someone working close by in the city, due to the size of the building it would probably best suit a single person or young couple. The price per square foot for this condo is a whopping $437.36.

Dallas

If a little more land and square footage is important to you, consider Dallas, Texas.

Although you’ll be living in a humid climate, you’ll get a little extra bang for your buck here. Plus, Dallas is home to a variety of beautiful parks and a trendy downtown scene. This single family home listed at $199,950 is a full 2,428 square feet, sitting on third of an acre. It has two stories, four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a two-car garage. Additional features include a bonus room, breakfast nook and covered front porch outside. It even sits on a cul-de-sac, making it perfect for families with kids who like to play outside. The price per square foot for this property is $82.35 — an amazing deal.

Examples of a $200k house in Dallas

Examples of a $200k house in Dallas

Orlando

Orlando, Florida, isn’t just a tourist attraction anymore. Families are settling in Orlando because of the affordable prices for relatively new builds and the fact that the city has a booming medical industry. This three-bedroom, two-bath townhouse is available for $159,990. Built in 2011 and measuring at 1,834 square feet, the price per square foot is $87.24. There are two stories, a full-size washer and dryer and a one-car garage. Monthly fees are $178 and include a community pool, recreational facility, tennis court and cable.

Example of a $200k house in Orlando.

Fridley, MN

Finally, in Fridley, Minnesota, you can find a 2,320 square foot single-family home for only $194,900. Fridley is a suburb of the Twin Cities with a population of about 28,000.
This 1970 build comes updated with hardwood floors and newer appliances. The backyard includes a patio and shed. For only $84.01 a square foot you get all this — plus the location is close to schools and Madsen Park. Madsen Park offers skating and hockey in the winter as well as a playground for kids and a basketball hoop.

Examples of a $200k house in the Twin Cities

Examples of a $200k house in the Twin Cities

What do you think? Tell us about the great (or not so great) deal you got on your house and what’s so special about where you live. Would you rather get a lot more house in a less-trodden area or sacrifice size and amenities to live in a pricey city?

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About Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis is a real estate broker in San Diego, Calif. She enjoys helping both buyers and sellers and was voted one of the top 10 best real estate agents in San Diego in 2013 by Union Tribune readers. In her spare time she talks about real estate on a local radio show and manages her website RealtorSD.com.

Comments

  1. For $200,000 in Portland, Oregon. You can get a four bedroom, two bathroom, fixer in Portland. Definitely worth it considering your mortgage would be roughly $1,200 / month and renting a two bedroom apartment in downtown cost about the same. With roommates you definitely break even.

  2. I’m so encouraged by the townhouse that you found in San Diego! Is that representative of the market, really???? My husband and I want to move to San Diego within the next few years and are nervous that it will take us a long time to save up a down payment. We’re renting a townhouse in North Carolina of the same square footage and others in our complex are listed for about $120k. I thought there would be a bigger price difference between the cities.

  3. Hi Emily,
    It is a really nice townhouse and will probably go fast. But when you are ready to move to San Diego, you can definitely find something as nice. The market will probably be quite a bit different then but if you are planning that far ahead and saving now you should be just fine. As far as the down payment goes, if you plan on living in it, you may be able to put as little as 3.5% down. Different areas of San Diego have huge price differences as well. I work all of San Diego County, as south as Chula Vista and as north as Oceanside. When you are ready give me a call and I can help you find something in the right part of San Diego that will suit your needs :)
    Sarah

  4. It’s crazy how much real estate prices vary. I’m from PA and near Philly a basic ranch home runs you around $250K. I went to college out in NW PA and the same home is $99K. My best friend and I rented a house (2 bedroom, 2 car garage on an acre of land) for $525 month. That’s total, not per person.

  5. My wife and I enjoy watching house hunters as well. We always feel so lucky when we see people with the same budget as our house looking for a place in a high priced area.

    When we look at the possibility of re-locating the cost of other real estate markets definitely scares us away from a few places!

    Thanks for the post.

  6. My husband and I recently bought a new house in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC (just across the border in South Carolina where taxes are much lower with good schools). It’s a new construction 4 bedroom 2,400 square foot house in a cookie-cutter subdivision for just about $200,000. I love watching house hunters (even if just to gloat on how cheap living is here) The HOA dues are only $34/month and our neighborhood has a pool. The cost of HOA fees and taxes really surprised me, we bought a house that cost $20,000 more than townhouses we were looking at with a cheaper monthly payment because of the lower taxes and HOA (and mowing the lawn is really not that bad!!!)

  7. I live in a small college town in Virginia, and housing here is relatively expensive compared to surrounding areas, though it’s far, far cheaper than housing in major cities or on the West Coast. Hubby and I recently looked into real estate here. In town, we could probably get a nice townhouse or a decent (but small) house for $200K. Our problem isn’t so much pricing as it is a lack of inventory. People arrive here to work at the university and stay for a long time, and alumni like to retire here or purchase a second home. Much of the property is not owner-occupied but purchased as rental property–even single family homes. Our ideal price, based on current salaries, is $150K, and even that is a few years off. We’ve determined that we’d like to remain renters for a few years and save up some cash so we have the flexibility to compete for the slim pickings in our town. Or, we might move outside of town where real estate is much cheaper and there’s more to choose from. We’re split on this one: I would prefer to buy smaller and live in town; hubby wants to buy a house in the country so we have land. I enjoyed this post, Sarah. I’m always curious to see how real estate prices differ across the country.

  8. The best deal ever received on a home is never purchasing one due to interest lost and
    diversification.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m one to invest heavily in a real asset, homes are effectively declining value assets once adjusted for fix up costs, property tax and the lost cash on loans.

  9. Meredith C. says:

    Hello,

    Can you tell me what building in NYC sold a 2 bedroom condo for 200k?! That’s almost unheard of! Any leads would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

    • This was a studio in Hamilton Heights. If you move your mouse over the picture it gives you the address.

  10. I am too aware of what location means. I moved from Chicago to DC and what $400k can get you in Chicago vs. DC is just so different. DC is just wildly overpriced. For $400k I can possibly get a 1-bedroom condo in DC (not counting monthly condo fees) versus getting an entire house with a yard in a nice neighborhood in Chicago. My husband and I had to bite the bullet and search for a home outside of DC, in neighboring Maryland, to find anything in our price range and with the square footage we wanted. C’est la vie.

  11. 461 W 150th Street is not Manhattan to the rest of the world – that is Hamilton Heights which is NOT somewhere most people want to live. When you say Manhattan people assume you are referring to below 96th Street.

    A 2bedroom CONDO below 96th street like that will run you 800K in a good building at the very least. Please be more realistic with your analysis.

  12. Hahah the title of this article cracks me up…My FIRST home will be nowhere in the league of $200,000! I don’t know many people around my age who can afford that price tag for a first home.

  13. I hate to burst the bubble of all the ‘House Hunters’ fans but do you know it’s actually fake? We almost took part it in as we were both fans, as well, and we were crushed to find that out…the couple has pretty much always already found the house but the show picks 2 more as comparison.