Post # 1
Now that the wedding is over and grad school is about two weeks away from being complete, Darling Husband and I are starting towards looking to buying our first home. We currently are in a one bedroom apartment that has gotten quite cozy, so we’re looking at upgrading. Not to a forever home, but one where we’d be comfortable for the next 5-10 years.
- We have not gone through pre-approval or enlisted the help of a real estate agent
- We have the full funds available for the down payment
- We took a mortgage prep course through our community adult education program where we met with a mortgage broker and discussed different options
- We have a list of “must haves,” “would be nice to have,” and “don’t really care about” for features in the house.
So, Bees who have done this before, what’s your best advice?!
Post # 3
We’ve been searching for a little over 10 months, it can be very frustrating. My best advice is never get your hopes up too high for one house, and there will always be another one if a house you think is perfect doesn’t work out. We’ve fallen in love with several houses, made offers, and it just didn’t work. It was easy to want to give up, but here we are now still looking and put in another offer today. So don’t get discouraged if it takes awhile. Best of luck on your search!
Post # 4
- Wedding: January 2013 - Harbourfront Grand Hall
@abbie017: Closing is a bitch, so be patient.
If the first real estate agent you start seeing houses isn’t cutting it FIND ANOTHER. Things will get worse in closing and if s/he isn’t suggesting houses for you to see, they’re not doing their job.
ETA: Start asking friends for a referral for a home inspector.
Post # 5
- Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast
Work with 2-3 lenders throughout your house hunting process. Once you have a ratified contract and are ready to go through to official loan process, bid the lenders against each other for the very best terms and conditions. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Is that the best loan that you can offer me?” On negotiation day our rate started at 3.9%. By the end of the day I had negotiated them down to 3.5% with 0.75 points paid. That deal was significantly below market rate and will save us a net $35k over the life of the loan. Lenders WANT your business, so make them work for it.
Post # 6
I’ve been on both sides (buyer and seller). Here are a few thoughts – probably things you already know, but I’ll say them anyway.
- See the house at least twice (preferably 3 times) at different times of the day and week. A house that is quiet when you look at it during the evening may have lots of road noise during the day. If there are any schools or businesses around, try to check out traffic when those would be at their busiest. You also want to see the neighborhood at night – how well lit is it, do you feel safe, do people leave junky cars on the road for a long time?
- Things that you think you’ll be okay with when you look at it at the showing very well may make you CRAZY in the long run. Don’t settle on things that can’t be changed relatively easily (location, room size, number of bathrooms, that sort of thing). On the other hand, things that can be relatively easily changed – be willing to do that. Settle on what you can change, be strict on things you can’t.
- Ask for concessions! Ask for closing costs or furniture you like to be included, if you’re making a halfway decent offer. It is just a start point for negotations – and you won’t get it if you don’t ask.
- Make sure you have a very well-padded emergency fund in addition to your down payment. Houses cost a lot of money, especially right when you move in. Changing locks, oops they took all the light bulbs, shoot our garbage can doesn’t work in this kitchen, didn’t think about needing a second set of bathroom stuff, whatever. It stinks to move in and have spent all your money on the down payment.
- Use an attorney! Even as the buyer! The attorney is the only one who is TRULY looking out for your interests and doesn’t have extra money on the line. Even your realtor is being paid by the seller and has motivation to move the sale through as quickly as possible. An attorney is the best $500 you’ll spend during the purchase. They make sure everything is done RIGHT.
Post # 7
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
– Get pre-approved before you do anything else. We started looking while ours was still going through, found an amazing house for a really really great price, made an offer immediately, and got rejected because the pre-approval hadn’t gone through yet 🙁 It SUCKED!!! (But we found another awesome place so it’s all good.)
– Figure out what YOU think is a reasonable amount to pay on a mortgage each month (including taxes, insurance, and all your other bills), not what the bank / lender thinks is a good amount. We were approved for up to 300,000, which is insane – we wanted something 150,000 or below.
– Don’t get discouraged and settle! It’s easy to feel like, “Ah fuck it, this is taking forever, this place is pretty good.” Hold out til you find the right place. (But remember that nothing is perfect unless you have an unlimited budget.)
– Remember that this is primarily a financial transaction and try not to let emotions get in the way. Even after your offer has been accepted, there’s still a lot of negotiating and hard decisions to be made after the inspection. Don’t stick with a place just because you love it, if it turns out to have way more problems than anticipated.
– Similarly, when you’re doing all the negotiating, don’t get caught up in trying to “win”. Remember that a price difference of a few thousand dollars is literally just $20 or so on your monthly payment. If you love the place and it comes down to a few thousand dollars, if the price is at all reasonable, accept the sellers’ offer.
I’d say those are the major things that I didn’t learn from reading books about it but had to learn the hard way. Good luck!
Post # 8
Patience. It was the best piece of advice I received. Someone told me, “The moment you are depressed, exhausted, and hopeless, that is the moment you’ll find your house. So be patient.” And what did you know, after a year of watching the market then 6 months of house-hunting and putting in our offers we were totally beaten down by the cut-throat market and ready to give up. At that moment our house popped up. Within hours of it posting online we had an offer in and amazingly it was accepted. We were so happy. Previously we had been losing homes to other buyers because we simply waited 24hrs to make a decision. Yeah.
Good luck! 🙂
Post # 9
At first, house hunting will be fun. At least it was for my husband and I…We got to go into peoples houses and see how they decorate and live! First house we put an offer in on I fell in love with. Got into a bidding war. We ended up walking away from it because it just got ridiculous, and the house wasn’t worth that much. In the end we probably looked at 60 houses, and lost 2 to bidding wars. We were shattered, but we also knew we did the right thing by walking away rather then letting our emotions get the best of us and paying too much for a house. It didn’t seem as though it would be possible to find a house that topped the two we put offers in on, but we did, and we’re SO happy we didn’t pay too much. Just be patient 🙂
Also, it’s great that you’ve made lists of your must haves, would be nice’s, and don’t really cares. Make sure you communicate that to your agent, and stay firm! Our agent was a tool. Forced air was one of our must haves…and she tried to sell us on a house that didn’t have duct work. I was so annoyed we almost canned her right then and there. Stick to your guns, don’t settle for anything, and you’ll be just fine!
Good luck 🙂
Post # 10
My number one suggestion is do not overspend. Banks tend to preapprove you for more than you can handle. There are a lot of tools online that help with that. My second suggestion is enjoy it. Home buying, though frustrating, doesn’t happen often. Make sure you make the most of it. And keep an open mind with everything you see online.
Post # 11
Don’t get emotionally attached to a house. Always, always be ready to walk away. We got a great deal on our house just because we were totally okay with NOT buying it. Remember that there’s always another house, and don’t let the realtor convince you otherwise!
Also – realtors might try to get you to sign an agreement stating that you’ll work solely with that realtor for a period of time (i.e. when you buy a house, regardless of how you found it, THAT realtor gets a commission). This is fine if you’re comfortable with the realtor, but just make sure you’re aware of what you’re signing. I have friends who accidentally signed with a realtor, then decided they didn’t like the realtor, and then were legally stuck for four months while they waited for the agreement to expire so they could work with someone else.
Take a camera with you. Once you look at 3-4 houses in a row, they all start to run together. Take photos of things you want to remember (especially the things you LOVE or things you DISLIKE about a house). Or take a notebook and jot down notes about each house.
Post # 12
My grandfather always said to buy the ugliest, most run-down property in the very nicest part of town you can afford. You can change the house (especially in the US, where you don’t need the crazy building permissions we need here in the UK), but you can’t change the location.
We ignored the first part of his advice, and I’m really glad we did. I know you can make money that way, but in a market where nothing is certain, we didn’t want to take the risk. We are both fairly DIY-averse and didn’t want to sink a lot of money and time into fixing up a place when our real hope was to use our savings to start a family! Best decision we ever made, because even though we didn’t have loads of work to do to get the house up to scratch, we still sunk about £5,000 into decor and furnishing (we moved in from a furnished rental, so we had to start from scratch), which was a lot more than we anticipated spending on what was essentially a turnkey property.
My personal advice would be to be really, brutally honest with yourself about how much the move will cost, and make a list of all the random stuff you’ll need once you’re in the place you’re thinking of. Also, as a pp said, leave yourself plenty of padding in the bank, because you’re gng to need it!
Post # 13
@UK Bride: Thats good advice about the location.We got a cute 3 bedroom house 1100sf for our first home. We could have gotten a big 2 story new home, but we knew the part of town wouldnt be the best for us or for reselling. We love our littler home in our safe, cute neigborhood!
If there are a lot of houses for sale in a particular location, it may be easy and quick to find a house but remember you have to sell it too and you don’t want to sell a house in the same place everyone else is trying to sell. Not a good sign.
Walk around the neighborhood where you like a home. Its the best way to figure out if you would be comfortable living there, and the best way to really see how all the neighbors are. (Advice from a co-worker when purchasing our home)
You will probably do this but have your own realtor, don’t go through a sellers realtor when looking at home (ie..open houses). They talk up the houses like something ridiculous, its halarious how much they lie to try to sell those homes. And as an architect it was so funny when they would tell me how easy it was to repair things, and we would just walk away laughing.
Be Patient! right when you get past the point of ending your home search and buying a house that is not right/out of your price range, your dream house will be right around the corner! happened for our house, and seems to relate to a lot of major purchases.
Have fun looking at houses! It is so fun, now that I have a house I still want to home search and go to open houses!
Post # 14
Tagging to learn. We’ll be going through this process in a few years…