When we first began our home buying process, I knew it wouldn’t be as easy as I wanted it. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be hard, but it was. And, I wanted a home that I can take pride in. A home is so much — from love to discovery to making it your own. If you didn’t know, I’m a total HGTV fanatic, for as long as I can remember. From Trading Spaces to Fixer Upper, interior design and exterior design have been my thing.
Which made buying a house exciting. Sure, it wasn’t going to be our forever home but it was a starter. And, investing in a home and it’s potential was on our radar. Starting off on this journey, I wanted a brand new home but financially, that didn’t make sense nor did the 6-8 month waiting period.
Aside from frivolously looking at houses and texting my realtor to see showings ASAP, there is a lot that goes into the ouse buying process.
It can be a short process or a long process. It all depends on the market, your realtor, your lender, and many other factors that are party to the buying game. Nonetheless, it is worth it after you get the deed and keys to your own place. Once you get that house, you get to make it a home and that is the best part. But, let’s focus on the buying process firt.
Here is what I learned about the home buying process and my househunter tips.
Get pre-approved & set a budget
Most realtors will not give your offer to a seller without a pre-approval letter. These letters are usually sent in with your offer, so that your offer is stronger. Honestly, I believe it’s the best thing to do ahead of time so you don’t have to wait on your pre-approval while trying to put an offer in. And, don’t think that your pre-approval amount has to be what you go for. There are many people approved for $300K+ mortgages, which is amazing, but doesn’t necessarily fit the budget. Figure out what you can afford mortgage wise and let your lender know that upfront. I told my lender no more than $1400 a month, and he made sure to map out house prices and closing amounts that were in my budget.
Watch the market and how it’s performing
This is something that I didn’t really do until the houses I wanted were going fast. The real estate market is hot! Honestly, I don’t know when it’s going to slow down. Mortgage rates are great and more people want to buy, and most of those people are shopping in my price range. It’s a seller’s market, for sure. And, sellers are getting $20K+ on top of their original price. One of the houses I put an offer in on (needed new flooring and bathroom updates) was listed at $159K and accepted an offer of $190K. People are crash with their offers from cash offers to passing on inspections and remedy periods — people are going all out for the house they want. And, you need to be ready. I would never pass on an inspection, but if I can see the investment, I don’t mind going over asking price.
Plan your offer and follow-up offer
With your offer, I would think about how high that I would go. Consider the updates that will need to be made and if there are any pricey updates that you’re going to have to make. There are cases where another offer might come in higher than you and that’s on you to deide if you want to go higher or bow out. For myself, I calculated how high I was willing to go before I made my moves. Planning needs to be accounted for especially for such a big investment.
Make a list of updates that need to be made
If you aren’t looking at a new home or you know there are updates you want to make, start burdgeting for those updates. It’s nice to get the bigger picture together rather than sitting back and not thinking about it. A new kitchen can get pretty pricery dependin gon the cabinets and counter tops that you go for. There is a lot of thought that goes into these updates, whether it’s the kitchen, bathrooms, floors, etc. My best advice is to make a list, but don’t think that you have to commit to that list right when you move in. Fix things as you have the time and money to get the updates done. Just make sure that you account for it all when you’re looking at homes.
Figure out inspections updates you want to do
If you aren’t going to pass on the inspection and remedy period, I would pay that $300-$500 for your inspection so it’s thorough. You;’re committing to this house, so the seller should work with you on the fixes that need to be made. I wouldn’t go all out and make them fix everything unless you’re paying big bucks. From there, I would look at the easy fixes compared to something that you refuse to take on. The small things I would take on my own. When I bought my first place (the condo), I researched how much a plumber would be because there was a shower issue (water would come from the shower head but not the bath faucet? super weird). And, that was my remedy request for the seller. With our new home, there were no issues which was surprising. The roof might need to be replaced one day, but all the updates are updates that we want to make and invest in.
Plan for the unexpected
You can’t really plan for the unexpected, but don’t think everything is going to be all good and dandy. I say this from experience — from putting an offer on a short sale to being furloughed and having to have my parents co-sign, there is a lot that can happen in that 30-45 day process. Always be ready to find a back-up plan. I think my plan for anything is to not panic and I would say that’s a good plan. Take that plan — don’t panic, just start thinking and asking questions to keep the process going.
Drive through the areas/neighborhoods
Based off assumption of an neighborhood, I missed out on a good home. Chase actually took me to the house and it was off the market that day. My #1 piece of advice would be that you should drive all around the area. Take a ride through the neighborhood, check out what is in the area, and get a feel for it all. Don’t assume that it’s not a good area because you think you know it all. You’ll end up like me back in February. Now, I ended up with my perfect home but the search felt endless after that home.
Consider the things that you can’t change versus what you can change
My realtor gave me this piece of advice and I took it to heart. There are things that you can changes and things that you can’t change. Location is one thing that you can’t change, along with the plot of land or if a train is nearby. You can’t change where roads are or anything within city limits which are things to remember, as well. Location was a big one for me — we knew where we wanted to live and that’s the one thing we didn’t make an exception on.
Find a realtor that supports all your ideas and goals
Personally, I need a realtor that is all in and knows that I have an idea of what I want. Our realtor went on a lot of showings with us and many of the houses just didn’t fit us. I felt bad, but I’m pretty sure she got it. We weren’t going to settle and neither should you. Find a realtor that is going to go above and beyond for you. You’re going to be living in this place and doing everything in this place, so you deserve to have a realtor that will set up your MLS with the things you would want.
Honestly, the process was long and felt like it was neverending, but we did it!
We saw around 15+ houses and we found the one. It took some time and there were ups-and-downs that we endured. From being furloughed to putting two bids in on houses that weren’t it for us. The two months of looking led us to our new place and it’s pretty amazing. Currently, we’re updating so I’ll reveal room by room or just upload the oldies.
Like I mentioned before, take into account any and everything. You’re investing in a home and you deserve to find something that aligns with your vision.