Before you begin, prepare yourself by reading Ten Steps to Homeownership from Realtor.com http://finance.realtor.com/HomeFinance/Guides/Buyers/default
Or check out this great tool: Buying vs. renting calculator
If you are even considering buying as an option you should first research what you would qualify for a loan amount and then you'll be fully armed to decide between renting or purchasing. There is not doubt that it is a tremendous buyers market and there are amazing deals to be had out there. In my lifetime we may never again see real estate on sale like it is now. That's what's happening. Real estate is marked down and is literally onsale! The key is finding what you can afford. And right now the great thing is you may be able to get more house/condo for your money. If you get pre-qualifed for a loan you would want to make sure that it's a loan amount/monthly payment that you can comfortably afford...life has a way of adding expenses to our life...children...daycare...so those are things to consider as you look at purchasing. Another thing to consider is that there is a one time tax credit of up to $8,000 for first time home buyers who purchase before December 1, 2009. This is a tax credit that is not required to be paid back!! For more info check out the link below. Hope this helps you!
What type of dogs do you have? I have a couple vacant apartments in Sun Prairie right now if you are interested. Otherwise, if you do want to buy a condo/house...I might also suggest trying to get a pre-foreclosure/foreclosure home if you thought you might want to own. Depending on the home, it may even be possible to get a home for 70% of CURRENT market value! We do work with right now, a lot of people that are at this point in selling, so let me know if you'd like to know more. The only thing about pre-foreclosures, are that sometimes they can take a little longer to get an accepted offer with teh seller/lender.
Let me know if you want more information.
Congrats on the graduation and major life passage into life beyond school! Since there is a 70 mile difference between Madison and Waukesha, I'd consider just renting right now until you see how the commute works for you and your fiance. I hope you get 50mpg with your car! Seriously, maybe just rent for a year and see where things are. It buys you some time and doesn't lock you in if the situation changes with regard to work and commute. Yes, I know the dogs are an issue with some landlords, but maybe you can find a seller who is willing to rent for a year--better than no income from their point of view--and not be tied down.. Good luck!
Money is cheap and houses are cheap...now is the time to buy. Do it now, before prices of houses and/or mortgages go up. Houses are down in prices from 10-15% right now. In addition, mortgage rates are down from a year ago this time.
Congrats on your upcoming graduations!
Congratulations on your "soon to be graduations" and new jobs. Sounds like you have alot to consider.
Location - one of you will need to commute no matter where you live. Plus dealing with the dogs.
I think you need to look at all your options. A condo may work, but many have restrictions on number and size of animals. You may find some affordable housing midway between Waukesha and Madison. The Johnson Creek area?
Another thing to consider is whether you can see yourselves living in a condo or home for a long period of time. Buyers have alot of choices right now, but if you think you may need to re-sell within say the next 2 years, you may not recoup your investment. Everyone's situation is different. You may want to see what you can get pre-approved for, maybe see what that will buy you, and then contemplate your next move.
All the Best to You!