As the snow starts to melt (for good), and the birdies chirp a little more, and the blooms start to bud, the “for sale” signs start popping up more and more. As a kid growing up I loved looking at houses online (especially the really expensive ones) and then as B and I started our house search in the summer of 2014, it was definitely an experience that is probably different for most, making it hard to prepare for until you’ve actually done it. So here is my advice for any of you who are on the house hunt to hopefully help you prepare for this potential roller coaster of a ride.
1. Love your realtor. We liked our realtor, but there were definite moments we did not like our realtor (like the time we wanted to make an offer on our house, and she told us she felt uncomfortable writing the price we wanted to go in at, and refused). You’ll be spending some nights and even some weekends with this person, in hopes they find you your dream home within a price point you’re content with. Try and find a family friend or referral and make sure they’re a good fit for your area and you! Do a few “phone interviews” before you truly commit.
2. Take notes and pictures. Don’t be shy, it is a bit awkward (especially the first few times) having someone watch you look around your potential future home, but this is a serious decision so take your time, take notes, ask questions and take pictures! This is especially helpful if you’re looking at a few houses in one day, trust me after a few days or weekends you won’t be able to tell them apart – looking back at notes/photos helps you compare and eliminate as you go.
3. Go with your gut. Love at first sight? Or it’s an immediate no? Then cut the visit short, no need to waste the time of your realtor or yourself. On the flip side if you know it’s the one, go for it even if your fear (of a major commitment) starts setting in!
4. Be ready to act fast. In our market, houses we would look at would literally be listed contingent the next day. So we learned quickly that if we saw a house we liked, we needed to be ready to act fast, because we lost a few good ones, even before we could look at them!
5. Hold your ground. When it comes to price, whether it’s going in low or going in at a price that’s comfortable for you, even if it comes down to negotiating, know what your bottom line is. Is it getting the closing costs covered? Or a lower sale price? We ended up coming up in price in order for the closing costs to get covered, because over the span of our mortgage it was not a big deal as opposed to having to pay more out right.
6. Compromise. Wallpaper? Paint color? Carpet? Gross curtains? Don’t like the kitchen cabinet colors? All easy fixes- don’t let the little things affect your decision or turn you off from a house. I’m honestly amazed at what a little (or a lot) of paint can do to improve the house without breaking the bank.
7. Be prepared for extra costs. When you’ve made the decision and are moving forward be prepared to have a little extra cash on hand for closing costs, the inspection and any other incidentals. These creeped up on us and can be scary if you’re not expecting them! We even had a few extra costs after we received the keys, like the refrigerator breaking that was an extra $700 dollars or so that we weren’t expecting to pay.
8. Push back your move-in date. (If you can) Yay! You have the keys! Let the fun begin! If there are projects big or small, try and get them done BEFORE you move in, you’ll be so much happier after the fact. Especially painting, it’s much easier to paint and tape and make a mess when you’re not worried about furniture.
9. Be ready, to notice a lot of random imperfections… once you move in and start cleaning! New house or old, your going to notice little things about the molding or floor or a crack in the wall you hadn’t noticed before and it’s ok! You’ll also learn the kinks that come with the house, good or bad, what I like to remind myself and B is, that it’s character!
10. Remember to relax. If you’re like us, with a century home there are plenty of projects big and small to do nonstop. Since we’ve lived in our house for over a year we have done A LOT! So remember to relax and take breaks in between the projects especially so you don’t get in a hole financially because random expenses will pop up!
This will be stressful, but it also will be fun! So enjoy the most of it, because once you find the house and can call it home, it’s all worth it. I love the fact that we have something we can call and make our own! Good luck!