I will admit it. I am an undercover house hunter. I have been for several years. By this, I mean, I have had real estate apps downloaded on my phone and tablet for years. I have been looking at houses in our area, for years. I have been the one person that has probably automatically known the selling price of houses in our area, FOR YEARS.
Crazy, right? Why would a person know all of this if they are not really house hunting? I have no idea. Call it a sick obsession of me. Nonetheless I like looking at houses, comparing houses and I am an absolute lover of House Hunters, Love it or List and Fixer Upper (sick obsession).
So, with all this information that I have seen and collected over the years, you would think that when my husband and I decided to look for another house, that I would be a natural house hunting expert. Wrong. Here is a run down of house hunting tips I’ve learned so far.
Get Your Pre- Approval Before You Look
Now, this one might be obvious, but let me explain. I have been looking at houses for years and when I’ve seen one that somewhat interests me, I show my husband, we talk about it, might drive by it and that’s it. I knew it was a possibility that we might get one some day, but I (we) never really took it serious enough to get pre-qualified.
But then, a really really really nice house became available in a really really really nice neighborhood at a really really really nice price. We couldn’t believe it. It was the first time that we saw something that moved us enough to think that we could live there. So we decided to see what we could pre-qualify for. We applied and got our pre-approval instantly. We qualified for enough to put an offer in on that house, I was excited. But my excitement didn’t last long because the house that was only on the market for about a week, already had an offer on it and was now listed as pending. I was upset.
What I Learned: Before you even start to look at homes, if you are really really really considering buying a house (even if your unsure as of yet), get your pre-approval first. You never know when the perfect house will come about and if you don’t have your financing together (with a pre-approval letter as proof) you dream home could pass you by. (Really, really, really)
Making An Offer-Not Easy Peasy
As I have mentioned before, any television programs to do with the buying and selling of houses, I am here for it. Just give me my P.J.’s and something to eat and I am good for hours, literally.
So, when we decided to make an offer on a house, I thought we would just run some numbers by our realtor, come to a mutual agreement on a good number and then we put in an offer (like on T.V.). The seller would probably naturally counter, we counter, then we would all finally agree on a price and then I would be moving into my dream home. Wrong and may I say wrong again.
I had no idea that a contract like document had to be produced by our realtor, we had to agree on all the different terms that we were comfortable with, the realtor puts all this together, we checked it and she then submitted it to the seller. (this is not what I see on T.V.)
What I Learned: What you see on T.V. is not how it goes. Please don’t think that you are good to find the perfect house, come up with the perfect number, give it to your realtor and they make a couple of phone calls and a few hours later, you are sitting with a glass of wine in your hand, celebrating your new house. No, boo boo, putting in an offer, is as tedious as if you were buying the house. Be mentally prepared.
When I hear my husband talking about different aspects of his line of work and trying to set times with clients to meet with him, there is one thing he talks about a lot, the client making time. If people want to get there business taken care of, they have to make time.
Now, I know this all to well, just from listening to him, but I didn’t quite get the full memo until we started to truly house hunt. When houses become available, especially if someone is still living in it, you must make time to see the house based off a limited schedule. Which means, you might have to take time off from work, spend late evenings and some (or all) of your weekends looking.
Also, if multiple people are going to look at the house, the time issue may be a bigger problem. For example, my husband and I were going to look at houses. If the house was still being lived in, we had to work around our schedules, the owner(s) schedule and our realtor’s schedule. When there was a house we really liked, we wanted to take our kids, so then we had two more people to work around. We had once narrowed it down to two houses, so we took my mom and aunt. (schedules galore)
What I Learned: When you are actually house hunting, you have to make time in your schedule to go and see the house(s). You have to go in knowing that you might have to make some adjustments in your work schedule, go on your lunch breaks, spend late evenings and some of your weekends when going to look at houses. You have to be willing to make time at any time.
There’s Never a Perfect House
Now, I knew going in that I would probably never find a house that pretty much checks off everything on my (our) wish list. But, lord behold, I didn’t know how hard it was going to be to come even close.
We’ve looked at houses and it seems like there was a constant theme, it has almost everything, but pertinent things are missing. Or, there is going to be a huge compromise that has to be made. While I’m all fine with making compromises, when the compromise is so big, it takes away from the home, it almost not worth.
I’ve seen several houses and have learned that you will not get everything that you want in a home, you will have to give something up. Right now, I am struggling with what the right thing to give up is.
What I Learned: While it’s important to list what you want in a home, you also need to list, what you will be willing to compromise on. The right house for you, might not be the perfect house, but it could work with a compromise. Go into house hunting knowing that you probably will not get everything that you want and while it’s good to know what you want to live with it, it’s also good to know what you can live without.
Be Prepared to Let Go
After looking for awhile, we decided to put a offer in on a house that we pretty much were in love with it. While, it didn’t check off everything on our list, it was pretty close. We discussed it with our realtor and she pointed out to us the obvious, they wanted way too much for the house. She did the research and had the numbers to back it up.
Knowing this, we decided to put in an offer, well knowing that we would have to negotiate. While, they were willing to come down some, it still wasn’t as far as we would have liked it. We walked away.
What I Learned: Even if you do find the right house, if the price isn’t right or there are terms that the seller isn’t willing to negotiate on, you have to be prepared to let the house go. This is very hard, especially if you’ve been looking for awhile. But, patience is a virtue and something better will come along.
It Takes Time
I can remember like yesterday all of the houses I would see and they seemed to be just right for our family. Now, that we are actually house hunting, the question that I keep asking myself is ‘where they at though’? (excuse my slang)
I mistakenly thought, that since I knew some things about house hunting and what I wanted, that it wouldn’t take as long to find a home. Boy, was I wrong. Now, months later, I find myself frustrated, even though, I should have known better.
What I Learned: Finding the right fit, isn’t a quick task. It takes time. So be prepared to invest a couple of months are more into your house hunt. If you know ahead of time when you want to move, you need to start looking well before that time. All and all, take your time, the right house might be just around the corner. (even if it’s a long corner)
So, while house hunting can be stressful, I’ve learned a lot. Do you have any personal house hunting tip? Share them in the comments below.