I love that Social Mom's Writing Prompt today was Home Buying Tips! I'd love to share a bit more of our journey in purchasing our first home. The struggles we had to go through, and the walls we hit. If you are new to the blog, let me start by saying, we just bought our first home last week!!! It's been such a fun, exhausting, and sometimes exasperating experience.
Where do you start?
For us, we started looking at homes when we were first married. We'd periodically get the idea in our head to buy a home, look at some, and then decide we should wait. We've been married almost 6 years now, so it's been a long time coming. We also watched HGTV's home buying shows on a very regular basis. By the time we were truly ready to buy, we knew exactly what we liked and didn't like, what we wanted and what we could do without.
Finding a good realtor is very important and can really make the difference in finding the home for you. When we started out, we didn't shop for a realtor. We called one, she showed us a house, and we just stuck with her. I didn't like her, I just didn't feel comfortable around her, and it made for some unpleasant house hunting on my part. We had already signed a contract with her though, so we had to use her. However, once her contract was up, we started calling other realtors. We found one we both liked, and it was amazing! We had looked for 6 months (6 months!!!) with the other realtor. In one day with the new realtor we had found a home we both liked (it's seriously my dream home!), and had an offer in on day 2 with him. It was such a great house that there were a couple offers on it, but by Friday we were in the #1 spot.
Make sure you meet all deadlines. Buying house involves a lot more than I had realized. I didn't know about inspections, lead base paint tests, and appraisals. I really thought you just showed your loan approval and got a yes or no. If you don't meet deadlines, you risk losing your house to another buyer. That is exactly what happened with the house we got. They had a previous buyer, but deadlines were not being met, so the sellers put their home back on the market, and we got it. I feel a little bad for the other people, but not too bad, since the home is now mine :)
Shop around. We didn't at first. We were going with a lady who our first realtor had recommended. She was nice, we were going to use her, but we didn't. First off, the sellers preferred we use a company our current realtor worked with. So that pretty much made up our mind. But before going with them, we checked out a couple more companies. The hubby is a teacher and one company was offering a $200 gift card to teachers who used them. It was tempting, and we almost went with them. Then we looked at the company our realtor uses. Not only did she save us $50/month then the other company, she also said she'd give us the $200 the other company was offering. SCORE! Thanks to her kindness we were able to purchase a refrigerator without adding more debt onto our budget
"Shopping" with Kids
We took our kids to every house we looked at. We have three kids, 4, 3 and almost 1. Was it a hassle, yes. Were there times we wanted to leave the kids, yes. So why did we keep taking them with us? The home isn't just for the hubby and I. It's for our kids. A place for them to grow in love and safety. We wanted them to like it just as much as we did. Our 3yo loved every house. The 4yo though, she had some fun comments "I want this one", "this room is mine!" And my favorite in response to me asking if she liked this house "uh, yeah!". Really child, you're only 4, no need for attitude yet. If you can, I strongly suggest bringing the kids with you. Let them have a say in where you live. Just be respectful of homes that still have people living in them. For those homes, we usually went in one at a time, while the other parent sat with the kids.
Last but not least - Have fun! Enjoy the time, don't settle for something you don't like, just to get into a home. You don't have to buy at the top of your budget, there are lots of decent homes you can get cheaper and save yourself some money.