home sweet home

things i learned buying my first house. 

  • neighborhoods matter – you can find the cutest house on the internet, check and recheck all the stats, and then go drive by it…and it’s in the shittiest neighborhood.  deal breaker.
  • it’s stressful – this is a big decision.  one of the biggest of my life thus far.  i would lie awake at night running numbers through my head.
  • i can become hyper-focused.  i kind of already knew this about myself.  but home buying brought it to a whole new level.  it’s the biggest purchase i’ve ever made.  i don’t know how many articles and databases i scoured during my research.  but on the upside, i did feel pretty prepared when things were thrown my way.
  • a house can be so adorable from the outside or in pictures and then turn out to be owned by a chain-smoking old lady who ruined it. original hardwoods can’t even save those houses from my rejection.
  • closing costs are a lot.  i mean, a lot a lot.  i did my research, but somehow i missed the actual amount of what closing on a house costs.  and it’s out of pocket.  yikes.
  • in fact, everything costs a lot.  there are so many little things that cost money not to mention the big stuff.  moving from a small one bedroom apartment to a larger townhome, i have to buy quite a few things.  it’s fun, but not so much when you look at the receipts and bills.
  • you gotta stick to your budget and price point… – i went into the process knowing what i wanted to spend each month.  i knew that i wasn’t going to be talked into anything, and yet at certain points in the process, i was by friends and family.  it wasn’t their fault by any means, and they didn’t realized they were even doing it.  but i got swayed.
  • …but be flexible to an extent.  as i got into the search, my price point did go up.  i think a lot of people go through this.  eventually, i was able to look at the numbers again and really choose what i thought i should spend.  it ended up being a little above my original number, but i still felt comfortable with it.
  • a good realtor is sooooo important.  i chose a friend’s wife.  and i’m so glad i did.  she was a real gem. she was kind and understanding, but she was also straightforward and hardworking.  she answered my many, many questions patiently and gave me text updates almost every day. she made it less stressful for me along the way.
  • a good mortgage broker is just as important.  i didn’t realize the extent that i would be looking to this woman for help and advice.  our first meeting lasted two hours.  she literally said, “pick my brain.”  and boy did i.  she even gave me her cell phone number and said, “call me any time before 9 pm.”  she also knew my real estate agent and had worked with her before.  she was a lifesaver.
  • the process moves faster than i thought – i got preapproved and a real estate agent looking for houses for me in the same day.
  • it can also move slower… the waiting is so annoying.  when i get into something, i want it to move at lightning speed, aka my speed.  but that’s just not how it works.
  • when it’s a “fast” or “hot” market, i’m not fast enough because I work and don’t have every second free. I lost out on three houses (one was my dream townhouse) because I had to wait a few hours to go see it. How do those people do it?
  • i have expensive taste.  no measly granite for me. i want the sparkly quartz that costs a fortune! i didn’t get it or any of the other expensive things i wanted but girl did i dream.
  • you’ll know it when you see it. when i walked in the door of my house, i just felt it. i think i said immediately, “this is it”. we walked through it twice in about 10 minutes and then i had an offer in within a couple hours.
  • your story matters. i put in an offer…and then so did several other people. i won because i offered a competitive bid and a good story – i’m a single teacher who’s lost out on several houses. the owner picked me because she’s also a single teacher.
  • ask for what you want. you might just be surprised by what you get. i asked for a long list of things to be fixed (all but one minor) and the owner fixed all but one small thing. i was shocked.
  • you can back out. i thought once you signed on the line that you’re locked in. nope. you’re not actually locked in until closing day. but it can cost you some money to back out. for me, it was worth it because in the end, i found what i really needed.
  • people are proud of you. at least they are of me. maybe it’s because i’m doing it all by myself, but i’ve gotten a lot of support from friends, family, and even strangers. they’ve  offered to help me from the get go.
  • things will break. it’s inevitable and sometimes i’ll be the culprit. my first break happened on the first day.  🙂
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