Regarding your questions:
"Buy or rent?"
This is your key question and it requires intimate knowledge of your financial capacity which no one knows but you. Hence, most of the answers you receive will be missing key variables.
"What does the yearly tax bill look like for a home priced around $290k in the Concord area?"
1.25% is a common "quesstimate"; however, your effective property tax bill actually consists of three separate levy categories: General Tax Levy, Voter Approved Indebtedness and Direct/Special Assessments. See: "Estimating Property Taxes in CA" http://tinyurl.com/bjjledz for a thorough review.
"Please give details on fees, etc. Cali has..."
Details can only be provided based on the purchase scenario and what has been negotiated between Buyer/Seller. This said, in general, Buyer closing costs are 2%-4% of the purchase price. Lender points and origination fees can be a big factor in pushing total cost upwards. You can reference the calculator link below for reviewing closing cost scenarios:
"I might rent the house out here and rent in the Bay until I can afford a down payment for another home. Is that wise?"
1) Unless you are an avid saver with "extra cash", you will likely need the proceeds from a sale of your current home to buy in CA. Strategically; I believe it's best to have the cash immediately available if opportunity presents itself rather than the delay of placing your property on the market. Of course, this depends on your personal timing.
2) Conventional "landlord wisdom" is to own rentals within an hour's drive from your primary residence. A Property Manager can reduce risk, but it comes at a cost.
The bad news is that there are few homes in Concord now available for $290K. Homes in my neighborhood of 1950's vintage houses go for $325K now (Canterbury Village near Treat and Clayton Roads in Concord). It really is a seller's market -- my theory is that Concord is very commutable to San Francisco via BART, and SF right now is a jobs generator, so there go the home prices in Concord! ---
1. How much do you make and what can you afford?
A. Do you have the money to buy a home if you want to? If it is not an option then you answered your own question.
B. What would be an acceptable home for you. Again if you do not have the money question answered but do not be afraid to get creative on how you do it.
Otherwise, over time real estate has always been a good investment, more so if you buy after a dip in the prices.
For a free no obligation consultation feel free to call 949-297-1207 or if you click on my picture you can respond online.
That's easy to find. Just go to the county assessors website and type in a property you are interested in and you will get a copy online for free.
I'll include the link below.
the property tax. A $290,000 purchase less the $7,000 Homeowners exemption for an owner-occupied property would be approximately $3500 in property tax for the first year ($283,000 X 1.25%).
As far as renting, that is an individual decision based on income, debts, property management, timing and other factors which need further discussion. There are a number of loans available requiring low down payment such as FHA and 5% down conventional financing.
Ken Korba - World Premier Realty (BRE# 00863445)