On the same note that Rhonda was describing "managing a property from afar" is more work than you think, so is "fixing and flipping" and so is "living and fixing".
It sounds so easy to buy a home you can "live in while you fix up", but if you are not a handyman who appreciates the work... forgetta bout it!
It sounds like you have a stable career that requires your full attention, and unless Caprentry/Remodeling is your hobby after work, trust me when I tell you that "fixing up a home as you live in it" will take up every bit of your down time and it will change your quality of life as well as possibly effect your performance in your career as you add an incredible amount of stress to your schedule and life-style.
So, I recommend you continue to do what you do well in your career, and use your hard earned money to buy a home you can enjoy, not try to learn a new trade with.
In regards to your vision for an "investment" home...
The word "investment: in real estate is used so many different ways, most often incorrectly, as the general public believes the word "investment" directly relates to the fact that the home value will INFLATE over the years and you will "sell" for an incredible profit.
The truth is, that's not an investment, that's more of a Lottery ticket, because it was luck that the market INFLATED.
Aside from "luck" and "general market appreciation", the true real estate investments are sought out based on what they will rent for in relation to their sales price. Also known as a "cap rate", investors look for real estate that will cash flow immediately while also having the tenant pay the mortgage note.
But again, these are "investors", so they don't need to live in the home.
You want to live their. You are a Home Owner.
If you want to set aside your personal desires as a Home Owner, and become an Investor, then you should certainly be aware of what that constitutes in relation to your standards of living.
How do you combine both your "Home Owner desires" and the "Investor Vision"? With a significant down payment!
Your $200,000 home will probably only rent for $1,200-$1,500 (depending on where you buy).
In order for that $1,200-$1,500 rent money to cover your mortgage note, you'll need to get that mortgage note down to $1,200-$1,500!
On a $200,000 home, this is achieved by putting about 20% down ($40,000 on a $200K home).
A few (initial) key factors to look at:
- Do you have money to put down as a down payment?
- What are your current standards of living (sq.ftg./space/storage/garages, quality, condition, location/amenities)
- Do you currently enjoy carpentry/handyman work?
As far as the $8K tax credit. I'll give you a bit more advice on that.
And, for the "eye of an investment", I can share more info there too. Even Condos with HOA fees!
I'll also share a secret with you on how to get 20% more than market value for your rental property when you decide to rent it, and why a Condo can possibly be a better investment for your goals. Either way, you'll learn quite a bit.
The first thing to keep in mind as a Home Owner as to "why you should buy", ever:
Your rent money you currently pay will now go towards ownership! And when you rent it out, your tenants rent money will also go towards your ownership!
Keeping that in mind, just make sure to "Buy Right". Buying Right is easyily achievable with the Right help. Buying Wrong is also easily achievable with the Wrong help.
That's where a Great Realtor can help. Do not overlook the difference that separates "good from great". Consult a Great Realtor. Not only does it NOT cost you money, but it returns a great deal of money for you on the front end and the back end.