What to Expect When First Time House BuyingJump To Recipe
You download a real estate app and constantly are looking at available homes in desirable neighborhoods. Then, you see a few open houses you want to check out.
So it goes like this: you pull up to a beautiful home on a bright sunny day. You and your significant other walk through the threshold and start exploring the various rooms. You inspect the kitchen and the storage around the home. You start envisioning what life would be like living in that home. The home is absolutely amazing, and your spouse thinks so too. The home is close to your kid’s school, it is close to your jobs, the neighborhood looks respectable, so you both put an offer down.
You tell your friends and family about your dream house and that you put an offer down. You are nervous because your offer hasn’t been accepted yet, but you still pray.
A few days go by and you are in torment. You just want to know your dream home is truly yours. You finally get a response…Your offer was not accepted.
That’s okay, I am sure there is something wrong with anyways, you think. Then you start the process all over again. It feels like you’ve seen 1,000 homes and they are either out of your price range, or your offers don’t get accepted. Ughh. I know the feeling.
After touring some homes, I was starting to lose hope. I told B to go look at homes without me because I was getting so tired of getting my hopes up to just be let down again.
Well guess what, eventually the RIGHT home fell into our laps. Thank you God. He had a plan for us and it was a bit of a waiting game, but worth it.
Don’t be discouraged, just know it will take some time to find the perfect home.
What We Learned In Our Experience to Become Homeowners:
1. Do NOT Settle
Just like you are dating looking for the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with, do not settle! Yes compromises will be made, and maybe some things you want aren’t in your budget (view, underground pool, etc) but do not lower your standards because you feel like you are going to miss the boat, or there is nothing else out there. If you or your Real Estate agent sense some red flags-do not ignore them. Patience will only help you in the long run.
2. Find an Exceptional Real Estate Agent
We were so blessed to have a mother and son team, Veronica and Andrew Richards, to be our Real Estate agents. They also happened to be my husband’s best friend’s family so that was a plus. What I loved about working with them is that they were 100% professional and wanted us to find our dream home. Andrew was able to pinpoint issues and positives of each property we viewed, giving us a great insight whether or not this could be our new home. Veronica’s industry experience and eagle eye was invaluable because she gave us incredible advice and steered us away from homes/contracts with potential risks. Veronica always guided us to read everything before we signed any legal documents. You will want to take the time to find a trustworthy real estate agent that is looking out for your best interests, and is not trying to make a quick sale.
3. Invest in a Home Inspector
You will want someone who is unbiased to take a good look at your home. Now I am not talking about the appraisal, because things can be missed. It is worth the extra money for someone to inspect EVERY nook and cranny of your home and tell you what is wrong with the home. You don't want to be blindsided a few months after buying your home and you have all these unexpected repairs that need to happen.
4. Contractors Will Take Longer than Estimated
I hate to be cynical on this one but with our experience, a contractor that is going to do extensive work in your home will take longer than they estimate. I can almost guarantee it. I think the contractor may either want to be optimistic on the completion date or they might just not be emotionally invested in the project, to them its just another job. We had our kitchen cabinets painted, and they turned out lovely but the contractor told us he would be done by Christmas. I had a feeling this would not be the case, especially as Christmas was about a week away. I think he kind of got comfortable after a while because his son would show up, and sometimes he wouldn’t even show, and then over a month later, it still wasn’t done. We had to call him out on it and he did apologize, but by that time we had decided to go with a local pro to finish the job. We had no use of our kitchen and appliances for over a month. Similar situation with our countertops. We were told it would be a 1 or 2-day job, well the guy who installed the countertops had to come back with some part, and when he did come back he cracked our window when installing the countertop, and they had to get another company to come out and replace it, which that also took several weeks to fix.
5. Mail Can Take up to 6 Months or Longer
This was very frustrating for me. I bought the HitchSwitch name change packet and was on my way to being the new Mrs. Madden! However, the post office didn’t catch on right away to my name and address change, and it took several calls to the post office as well as to individual companies to reroute our mail. It took about 6 months to get everything ironed out and have the post office mail our mail to our address, and not our parents’ addresses.
6. We Are Now the Rule Makers
The beauty of adulting is that now you are the decision-maker for your home. Did you ever hear your parents say growing up “My house, my rules”? Well, now it is YOUR turn to carry the same principle in your household. It doesn’t matter if that past 18, 25, how ever many years your parents did or did not do something-it is your house and you can do what you please! I believe that parents and their children are not clones of each other, yes we inherit many of our traits from our parents, but that doesn’t mean we will always have the same standards/house rules as our parents. One rule my husband and I decided on is that we would not wear shoes in the house. We bought brand new carpet, and carpet is not cheap so we would like to extend the life of our carpet. Now this rule carries over to tile-one might say, what’s the big deal with tile, isn’t it easier to clean than carpet? Yes, it is-but remember, we don’t wear shoes in the house. I don’t want to have to clean our floor more than I have to, and I don’t want my bare feet to get nasty from other peoples’ shoes.
7. Some Things Must Wait
I remember hearing from a friend years ago that newlyweds won’t have a fully furnished home right off the bat. I always remembered that, and I will say that is a great piece of advice when first buying a place/being a newlywed. We still do not own a television. We kinda fell into a decision of not owning one. By not having a television at first, we decided, “Hey, let’s try and make it a year without t.v.!”. We actually do not miss it with our busy work schedules, and if we really want to watch something, we can go to the movie theater or watch something on Amazon Prime. We may get one down in the future, but we are certainly not rushing to buy one. Understand that when you visit your G-ma’s house, it has had a lifetime to collect furniture, appliances, decor, and precious items. It is okay to not have everything you want all at once, plus it teaches character.
8. Location is Key
Location, location, location. This mantra has been around since the 1950’s, and for good reason. No home is 100% perfect, and a homeowner will never be 100% satisfied by their home or it’s location. You could have an amazing home, but crummy neighbors. Although we don’t live side by side to a freeway, our backyard faces the main road off the freeway, and we typically hear emergency vehicle sirens, motorcycles, and semi-trucks pass by on a daily basis. Other than that, we love our neighborhood because it is quiet, and we are blessed to have kind and respectful neighbors. Keep location at the front of your mind when house hunting.
9. There Will Always Be Something To Fix/Upgrade
I was talking over our upcoming wedding last year with our phenomenal DJ, Greg Gomez. Side note-if you are having a wedding in San Diego, BOOK HIM. He is so funny, down to earth, and knows his stuff and could honestly run your wedding if the wedding planner bailed. We were laughing at how the life of a homeowner, there is always something to fix or upgrade. Even if you live in a brand new home, there are going to be things you want to change or upgrade in it. The first thing we did when we got our keys was to write a list of all the projects we wanted/needed to change. A year later and we are still working down the list!
10. Be Aware of Emotion-Driven Expenses
I don’t know about you, but emotion-driven decisions are a real thing for me. Maybe it's because I am an ENFP, I tend to make decisions from my heart and not my head. I’ll give you an example. About a month after we moved into our home as newlyweds, we heard a noise at night but dismissed it. The next morning we found our car doors had been opened and the perps stole my husband’s Surface Pro. We had also discovered our neighbors were hit too. Knowing this, for a few weeks we were a little paranoid, and for good reason. We were looking into security cameras, floodlights, and security systems. Now I am not saying these are useless tools, I think they serve a great purpose in deterring theft. What I am saying is that the emotion of fear was behind this. After talking to some other homeowners, I found that very few had any form of security system. We live in a good neighborhood, and our neighbors who have lived in the neighborhood since the homes were built said this type of situation was a one-off, not a regular occurrence. We decided to not go through it, and just make sure we lock our cars, and not leave any valuables in our cars. I think when being a homeowner you should be aware of purchases driven by emotion-whether it be fear, guilt, comparison, sentiment, envy, etc.
11. Thumbtack is Your Home Improvement Lifeline
Thumbtack is an app that connects you with nearby professionals, for pretty much anything you can imagine. I found a handyman company called Arria Services that had good reviews and we hired them several times. Some projects in your home are just best reserved for the professionals. And as much as it is nice having a family member or a friend do you a favor, oftentimes the end result can be the mark of the amateur. We are both perfectionists in our own ways and having a professional do a job right the first time is a must for us. Also, we were so over contractors that we wanted a reliable, trustworthy, and honorable worker to come do work in our home.
What have you learned about being a new homeowner?
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