1. Identify what area you would like to live in.
2. Contact a Real Estate agent in that area and ask the agent to advise you on the list-to-sale ratio.
3. Divide the percentage amount into your $225k and you'll arrive at your approximate top range.
Closing Costs Calculator: http://www.mortgage-investments.com/Mortgage_and_real_estate
You need to figure out areas you want to be in, bedroom / bath minimums / sq.ft size, what are your future plans, how long you will hold the property...
I'm with you on the banks, f them, personally I hate all the banks that screwed the american public. And i'm proud to say im a real estate broker for the past 9 years. I've seen them foreclose on families, give them a couple thousand bucks and said, sorry hit the road. I've seen short sales sit for over a year while they decide if its enough money for the "investor" to take a loss on. In the meanwhile, the home forecloses.
I heard where they set a side $45 billion dollars to get homes modified, but only $1 billion got used... What happen to the other $44 billion?
Lemme know if you need an agent, i can refer you to someone that can truly help you