- 8 years ago
Hey there! Congrats on embarking on the home hunting adventure! It will be fun but be forewarned, it can be very annoying and heartbreaking. We are currently approaching the final stages of being under contract (thank goodness!) and somethings I would have told myself before we started looking:
Depending on your budget, some of your “must haves” will more than likely get knocked off (forced air and central air were some of my top must haves, the house we are buying is radiator heat and AC units)
Try your absolute hardest not to fall in love with a house until you are closed…we went under contract two times before this house and we got our hearts broken, as much as we tried not to
Some people really don’t care about their homes appearance, we took this as “well if they don’t care to stage the home when people are going to look at it, God knows that they probably didn’t maintain it either”. Again, this is my personal neat freak talking
Try to get face time with the sellers! This will have them see you as a person/human being as opposed to just a name on a paper.
Best of luck to you and your SO! It is definitely an adventure that will bring you closer together! 🙂
Do not leave yourself “house poor.” What I mean by that is you need to make sure that you keep $5K-10K at least in an account for just in case. Right after I moved into my first house I found out that the A/C unit needed to be replaced and the ducts were desintegrating due to their age (neother issue was caught during the inspection.) Hello bills for $3,000 right off the bat after making the downpayment and having to spend money to replace the carpet and purchase new appliances since the previous owners had sold them while the house sat on the market.
Get a good inspection from someone who is licensed and/or certified before making an offer.
Get pre-approved by the bank before making an offer. And don’t spend more than you can afford (see “house poor.”) Remember there is also PMI, homeowner’s insurance, and taxes that will be added to your final mortgage payments each month.
Don’t buy a house you don’t plan on living in for at least 5-7 years. You might get stuck in it depending on the market so planning to quickly flip a house or rent it out is not alwyas an option.
Make a list of must haves, like to haves, and cannot stand items. Realize that no already built house is going to comply with all of your requirements. Try to get as many as you can but down turn down a great house because the master bedroom is painted baby puke green (that can be repainted easily before you even move in!)
Visit the neighborhood at night and on a weekday when people start coming home.
I didn’t do this and didn’t realize the terrible parking situation that ensues when everybody comes home. Wish I did.
Congratulations! Buying a house is so exciting 🙂 One thing that was important to us was the type of community where the house was located. I am not sure about your situation or if you want children in the future, but IMO looking at schools in the area is always important. I know a couple of our friends that regret not investigating school districts before they bought their house.
+1 to visting the neighborhood at different times!
Wish you guys the best of luck! It is a great feeling owning your own home! 🙂
Save, save, save. We just bought a new house 3 weeks ago, and we love it! However, we’ve already done some work on the toilets, and now we need to start saving to redo the driveway (something we took into consideration when making our offer). Put as much down on the house as you can in order to lower your payments.
When house hunting, take your time and don’t see too many houses in a day. Take pictures and keep a list of what you like and don’t like in each house. And don’t focus on color–or things you can change. You can repaint the walls any time, so if this house you love has ugly yellow carpet and pea green walls, you can change that 🙂
Get preapproved BEFORE looking at houses because then you won’t fall in love with something you can’t afford.
And have FUN!
**By the way you asked for relationship advice too. Here is the deal: Even if you’ve lived together, buying a house together changes the rules (if you were in an apt before). My DH and I have a lot more room which means we feel entitled to change things we don’t like. But we have to compromise a lot. With more space you think you have more right. DH and I have to talk about everything together. It can get tough sometimes trying to compromise on things in the house, but ultimately it will make for happier home.
Now that I am thinking about this. Make sure to pull local crime stats for the neighborhood too. Lots of violent crimes such as robberies and carjackings should be concerning but minor theft crimes such as larceny are pretty typical in populated areas.
Make a list of must-haves/deal breakers, would really like to haves, and nice to haves but can do without. Unless you have a very generous budget, you’ll also need to be prepared to compromise. Odds are you won’t be able to get everything you want in your first house. Yes, those granite countertops are super nice, but these laminate ones are perfectly functional. Remember you can always upgrade later once you’ve saved up some more!
Keep an open mind when you view houses. There are many sellers that don’t give a crap about how their house shows and it can be difficult to imagine your stuff in a space that is filled with other people’s stuff and/or with ugly tile and wall paper. Recognize the difference between bad bones/layout and bad decor.
I ditto the house poor advice. You might be pre-approved for a $500K loan, but that doesn’t mean you should use all $500K. Budget accordingly and make sure your budget includes misc. home repairs. You’ll want to save at least 10K cash for immediate home improvements. You will also need to keep closing costs in mind (which can run anywhere from 5-10K). Sometimes the seller will pay for all or part of the closing costs. Also, check the closing costs VERY carefully. When my parents bought their house, the mortgage company tried to charge them $100 to deliever a check and some paperwork to the bank that was literally right across the street. There were also going to charge interest for 3 days because that’s how long it would take to get the stuff across the street. My dad fought that one and won.
Try and put down 20% or as close to 20% as possible. If you have less than a 20% downpayment most financial institutuions will charge you private mortgage insurance. You don’t want to do that if you don’t have to as the money doesn’t get applied to your principle and essentially wasted.
I disagree with the advice about getting a home inspection before making an offer. I would do that after the offer is accepted, but make certain that there is a home inspection contingency in the contract. It doesn’t cost you anything to make an offer, but it does cost you several hundred dollars for an inspection. I would hate to do an inspection and not have my offer accepted.
If you are buying a house with a well or septic, ask for the records. It’s also a good idea to ask for records of any major home repairs.
See several houses before you really start to narrow your list. You might think you want something, but once you see it in reality, you might realize you don’t like it or don’t need or you absolutely have to have it. The more houses we saw, the more we refined our criteria.
Don’t be afraid of annoying your realtor. Ask him/her to see as many houses as you want and ask as many questions as you want. If your realtor is unhelpful, find a new one.
Posting to save the thread. We are looking to purchase within the next year as well. Good luck OP!
if you plan on having kids, and staying in that area for longer than 5 years, make sure the school district is a good one. Community also, make sure the community does things for residients. I love a community that puts events on, especially for children.
Scope out the neighbors, make sure there is not an “Eye sore” house – those are the problem neighbors LOL I have them. Ugh……
Great advice so far (especially about getting pre-approved, and not rendering yourself “house poor”)–just a couple more things:
-Make sure you have a really good realtor who is looking out for your best interests and not just trying to make a sale. We had a great one to begin with, but don’t be afraid to get a new one if you don’t feel confident that you have someone on your side.
-When you are looking at houses, think about the things that are easily change-able (such as lighting fixtures and paint colors), the things that are a little more expensive/time-consuming to change (adding a deck, updating a kitchen, or knocking down walls), and the things that are permanent (location, school zones).
-Along the same lines as the above, think about how much work you and your SO want to put in to the home you buy. You should both be on the same page with this.
Good luck and have fun! Looking at houses can be exhausting, but it’s fun and exciting to get your first house that you truly own together.
With every house you go to, take notes afterwards! Write down what you liked/disliked so you don’t forget after seeing other houses afterwards.
If you’re worried about budget you can do what I did. I created a spreadhseet that had a list of all the monthly expenses and what the cost would be approximately. This included mortgage, tax, gas, water, alarm system, cable, internet, groceries, etc. And I estimated HIGH. Some things I thought I was estimating high on actually turned out to be accurate (groceries). But this made me confident that the house we were buying was affordable.
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