Thanks for the information, and the USDA website. I considered the FHA loan for all of a day, but on this short notice I am not prepared for even a 3.5% down payment. I've got move-out costs, and there are always other "hidden" expenses. According to the USDA map, but it looks like the area I'm in now may be an eligible "rural" area. I'm on the outskirts of town, and if I go even a few minutes further out from the city I'm definately in a rural area.
If I'm thinking about this in the right way, I should be able to keep my kids in the same school district (through open enrollment they could stay in the same school), and also buy a house that is 100% financed, only minutes from where I am now. Ideally I would like to stay in the same neighborhood, but this could still be a potentially good situation.
I talked to a real estate agent yesterday, he was talking about FHA loans with 3.5% down, but I'm going to run the USDA loan idea by him and see if it would really work that way. Or find a different agent who may be more experienced with this.
Hi, I live in arizona also. I'm purchasing in chandler some where shortly. My first piece of advice, don't let your lease ending make you jump into a decision like this and accept bad terms even if you qualified for a loan for 30 years. Also, if you can't come up with 3.5% down then I'd seriously doubt it would be a good idea to get into a mortgage where there are ALWAYS, as you said, unexpected expenses. Costs for homes can be quite great and the electric bill for a home and water are always much higher for a house in arizona as well. Why don't you wait a few months, get a month to month agreement living somewhere or with some family in the meantime to save some money and go from there. Don't let anything rush you in this decision!
Just an update...
I am in the process of purchasing a 1500 sq ft 4 bedroom house in my neighborhood that is 10 years old, valued at $134,000, through a USDA loan with no money down. It is a bank foreclosed property, seller is paying the closing costs (which seems typical now). I've just locked in a loan at 4.0% fixed rate, and total payments including principal and interest, HOA fees, property taxes, and mortgage insurance, will end up being just under $900/month.
The inspection showed several issues that the inspector referred to as "easy fixes", things like pest control and drainage problems. The biggest problem is that several shingles on the roof are missing because of an overhanging tree branch. I think it is looking pretty good so far.