(This is our future living room! It still has the sellers, ahem, interesting decor.)
So if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (which you totally should, in my humble opinion) you'll know that I don't hold back my feelings on the home buying process. It is truly fun/terrible.
After bidding on a couple houses, we have finally found the one. This experience was a total crash course and you won't feel entirely comfortable with it until you've gone through it once or twice. I wish someone had given me a little more advice at the beginning so I knew what to expect, so for any of you shopping for a home, here are the key lessons I learned:
Look at everything you possibly can. I would have never guessed in a million years that I would fall in love with a brick ranch in the neighborhood our home is in. It was pretty much the opposite of what I imagined. The reason my priorities changed is because our realtor took us to see absolutely everything that was on the market, whether it met all of our needs or not. This shaped my 'wants" and 'needs' lists completely - in a really positive way!
Be ready to move quickly. If you are house hunting, there are a few things you need to have in order: down payment money (or a plan to have it soon), being pre-approved for a loan (doesn't necessarily need to be the bank you'll eventually borrow from) and being ready to move (or if you have a different timeline, sticking to it). Many of my friends were surprised by how quickly we found this house and went under contract, but oftentimes, this is the way it works. So be sure it's what you really want!
Always think about resale value. We buy houses because we fall in love with them. We can envision starting our family there or growing old there. But the truth is, most people only stay in their first home for a few years. Ben and I bought this home with rental property potential in mind, but also with our eye on resale. For example, there was a major sewer issue in this house and we really had to stick to our guns to get it fixed by the seller - it almost cost us the house completely. But a $3-4,000 issue can put a big damper on selling your home in the future and in this case, we were able to negotiate around it.
If you don't trust your Realtor, get a new one. Our realtor is the best. She is honest, thorough, has great follow-through, has rental property experience, and listened to us (really important). She has made the entire difference in this process. Unfortunately, there are just plain BAD Realtors out there. If you have even the slightest impression that your realtor is pushing you into a home that isn't right for you, or isn't following up as often as they should, ask everyone you know for recommendations and get a new realtor. You need to feel 100% comfortable with this person because you're trusting them with one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make.
When a contract falls through, get over it. There are constantly new houses coming on the market, no matter where you live. It is still a buyer's market out there, so there will be another house. I shed quite a few tears over the first home we bid on, but eventually you learn to get over it quicker. You should have someone to vent to (for me it was my lady friends because guys won't really understand how you're feeling) but then you have to move on. I know it sounds cheesy but these words are absolutely true: if you don't get one house, it's because you were meant to buy another. Seriously.
The final lesson I have to offer is don't say, "we have the house, now let's fill it with kids!" to the man you hope not to scare off. Just sayin'.