How to Not Buy a Home
A few weeks ago, Charles and I became first time home buyers. This was maybe the most adult thing that we’ve done! Besides get married last week, I guess, haha. We had been getting ready for this for weeks and weeks before hand and now that it’s finally happened, we’re so excited to be working towards having our dream home!
Some things that we didn’t know about:
Buying from out of state is significantly harder, unless you are really good at decisions.
I am the queen of the fast decision. Pick one, and let’s move on. We had three days in our new city to choose, tour, and put an offer on a house. We had what could only be described as the marathon. We viewed fourteen houses in three days. We ended up finding “our” house on day two. It was the middle house of all the ones that we viewed. I would not recommend the marathon to anyone, unless you can go in and decide yes or no quickly. Then, in the most stressful week of our lives, we lost the house. Well, we pulled out. It turned out that the house had a lot of problems, and it ended up not being worth it. I ended up going out later, on my own, and choosing the last house that I viewed. Pulled the trigger on it fast, and had an accepted offer and inspection by the end of the week.
We didn’t understand the market.
We had no concept of neighborhoods, didn’t research school districts, and didn’t realize how fast the market moves in Duluth. We had an excellent realtor who was able to help us think about different neighborhoods and nail one down based on home values, schools, and resale value. The house we ended up buying is indeed in the middle of a very nice, quiet neighborhood, in a great school district.
You need a realtor if you’re a first time homebuyer, or maybe always.
I am so happy that we found our agent, Emilie. She was so valuable when it came to looking at houses. She also got a feel for what we wanted really quickly and helped us find a home that we would really like. She also went above and beyond trying to negotiate our house with us. I don’t think that we would have been able to do this without her.
What we thought we wanted and what we got was totally different.
I went in to this thinking that I wanted a beautiful old white farmhouse. Lots of natural wood, but only a few bedrooms. What we ended up with was totally different. We saw houses of many shapes and sizes. We got to see what layouts we loved and hated. I couldn’t stand a bungalow layout, and Charles hated it too. We ended up getting a 4 bedroom, 2 bath traditional home. It has a beautiful yard, and checked all of our boxes, but it isn’t what I pictured at all. It was exactly what we wanted and I wouldn’t have it any other way! So, keep an open mind, and keep your “must have” list really short.
Our must have list was short, and this was good.
We needed a yard, for our baby dog. We also needed a garage for winter. I didn’t want to remodel a kitchen or a bathroom, so these needed to be good to go. Between the garage and yard, we were fairly open. We wanted a second bedroom, and a formal dining area. Shapes, layouts…we were open. We ended up seeing every house that fit this.
The financing part is the hardest.
Okay, no one likes talking about money. All you do is talk about money. Watching a stranger pour over my credit card statements and tell me where I needed to improve was excruciating. It was also a juggling act. Get pre-approved TODAY so that you can make an offer on a hot house NOW. Can’t get ahold of your lender? Well you need to right now. Then you have to put down cash. A lot of cash. And then handle the actual mortgage. Everything needed to be done fast, and this was the most stressful part. Finally being able to sign off on the offer was really exciting and totally worth it. Our biggest issue was that we were buying from out of state, and so neither of us had jobs. Well, we had jobs lined up, but that’s not the same as having a job in the eyes of the bank. Cue the extra paperwork and panicking.
You don’t actually pay asking price on houses.
This was a lot like car shopping, I found. You don’t pay the price on the sticker, unless you don’t have a lot of choice. We ended up payin over asking, but the housee is in wonderful condition, in a great neighborhood, and checked all of our boxes.
Less cost = more issues.
We went in with an idea of what we were willing to take on in the case of home improvement, and were happy to pay less for a house knowing that it meant the next couple of years would be baby steps of progress towards our house. In good news, this means a house that is exactly what we want. But, we could have paid more and had it totally done before we even set foot in the house. Because we ended up paying a little more, we got a house that essentially doesn’t need any major fixes. All the things that I want to do to it are purely cosmetic.
I’m excited to share a lot of our journey into making this home truly ours as we start doing work. I’ve been living in the house since we closed in early June, but am certainly happy to be settled in with a plan on how to fix it up!
I hope you’re loving your home, and if not, that these things help you find your place!