NEW BEDFORD — Put on your work clothes and find a hammer that you like.
If you want to buy a house for $250,000 or less, it won’t be easy — before or after the sale.
“If you are approved for $250,000, that is a very tight price point,” said Brad Thelin, a real estate broker at Century 21 Signature Properties of Dartmouth. “Most likely, it would be a small single-family that needs work.
“In New Bedford, if you look, you can find properties like that all over the city.”
In early May, the SouthCoast Realtor website showed five single-family homes for sale in New Bedford for $250,000 or less. All of them were small; all of them needed work; and most didn’t qualify for conventional financing.
There were only 10 homes in all of Bristol County in that price range, including two in Taunton and one in Attleboro that was vacant and deteriorating.
If buyers can afford $300,000, there were 43 homes in New Bedford, including 14 two- or three-family houses and several commercial buildings. There were 142 properties for sale in Bristol County priced at $300,000 or less.
Of course, that does not mean they can be purchased for $300,000.
“If the top of your budget is $300,000, you really want to be looking at houses priced at $260,000 to $270,000,” Thelin said. “You will most likely have to go up in price to get the house.”
But New Bedford is a good place to look, according to Stephen Medeiros, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and owner of Steve Medeiros and Associates of Dartmouth.
“New Bedford has always had a lot of value,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities that people are becoming aware of.”
The bottom line on housing cost isn’t the price, it is the monthly payment, Medeiros said. That complication should be enough to send buyers to real estate professionals to get help before they jump into the market, he said.
Buyers need pre-approval for a mortgage, a good down payment, cash in reserve for repairs and contractors lined up for home inspections or required improvements. They also need to know the options available for financing and the rules attached to them.
“If you are a buyer, you have to have a plan and have a good realtor help you with that plan,” he said. “You have to know how much you can afford; what does that look like for a monthly payment; and how it fits into your budget.
“An agent can provide advice on what a client needs.”
But if money is tight, New Bedford is the best place to start looking, Medeiros said.
“Then stick to your plan and be patient,” he added.
Residential home prices in New Bedford are surging as supply remains low — and local buyers are finding it hard to compete.
“We’re seeing some folks really having challenging times being able to afford this rental market.”
As real estate prices increase, there is evidence that low-income residents are being forced out of homes in New Bedford.
“If the city has the political will, it can make any of this work,” said Robert Terrell, a lecturer at Tufts University.
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