Hello from the other side. Do you remember me? It’s been a long time, but I promise I have a good excuse. Since you last heard from me, we have bought AND sold a home, and even lived somewhere else for a week in the weird interim where things can’t get messy and all signs of kitty need to vanish. I will update you guys on all the details later, and hope to post some of our upcoming projects, but today, I wanted to share some helpful hints on not only buying a house, but whether or not buying a house is right for you anyway!
1. First things first, is right now the right time for you to buy a home?
Well, a lot comes into play when trying to answer that question, but the most significant thing to consider is: do you plan to be in the same place for quite some time? And no, I don’t mean like, “Well I’m in this city now, and I’ll probably be here in a few years too.” In addition to your physical location, you’ll want to consider how happy you are with your job, the potential for you to find other work in that location should the worst happen, relationships with friends and significant others, and really any scenario that could arise and tempt you to move.
Let’s be real, shit happens. I’m sure people buy houses and have circumstances change two weeks in, but in an ideal scenario, you would want to plan on being where you’re at for 3-5 years. Why? Because equity. I’m no banker (anymore, that is), and I’m definitely no lender, but equity is important and it also takes time.
To sum this up:
Do you have a job you love in a city you love and bonus, friends there too? Well, if you answered yes to those and would like to be a homeowner, I say go for it!
Are you lukewarm about your job and location? In a long distance relationship? Actually qualified to land your dream job across the country? Maybe renting is more your speed.
2. Okay, so you’re sure you want to buy, but you’re skeptical because you feel in the dark about, “the process.” Here’s the deal: we just bought our second home and I still don’t know shit about the process. Fortunately, for both houses, we basically held hands with our realtors and made it through. Much like a wedding planner, it benefits everyone involved for things to go smoothly, so if you have a good realtor, the process should be easy peasy. (FYI, I feel the same about buying and selling houses as I do “the cloud”; I don’t understand and I don’t care to. It’s wild to me that it’s all done by swapping large sums of money that neither party actually has? 🤔)
3. Speaking of a good realtor, you’re really going to want to find one. We had great realtors for both buys, but I much preferred the experience this time around because we love our agent. Our first agent was recommended by my husband’s parents, who shop a very different price point, and while our agent was totally polite(ish), there was always an unspoken air of, “You’re wasting my time,” and I think we all had a sigh of relief when we were able to quickly find a home that we loved.
Finding a home can take quite some time (and you’ll be spending a lot of evenings and weekends with your realtor), and our agent basically answered our calls and texts at all hours of the day and night. Now that all is said and done, she feels like a friend too.
“Well, that’s good for you Leigh Ann, but how do I find a realtor that I love?”
Go. To. Open. Houses. Ask questions. Be open. I’m so glad we did this and had the best possible outcome!
4. So you got pre-approved for a loan, what should you do now? This is totally just my personal advice, but Kyle and I sat down and agreed that we didn’t want to exceed more than 75% of our pre-approval amount because we didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin.
I think the best way to navigate this is to consider your lifestyle.
Do you like to travel a lot? Spend your evenings after work with friends? Well, don’t go balls to the wall on your budget because trips are expensive, and you don’t spend much time at home anyway.
Are you a homebody who loves Netflix and prefers to eat in (🙋🏼♀️)? Your budget might be a little more flexible because a lot of your joy happens at home.
In short, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Oh and also, everything is always more expensive than you anticipate. Way more expensive.
5. Create ‘must have’ and ‘would like to have’ lists. The number of times I walked into a house that totally didn’t meet our needs and fell in love with it anyway is comical. We created lists that we compromised and agreed upon so we could streamline our process.
6. Prepare to be disappointed. I’m not going to lie. Tears were shed. Arguments were had. I felt like giving up basically all of May. In the 3ish month process of looking for homes, we had one offer declined early on (we got outbid by like $1,000 😩), one new build that we were ready to roll on and then got blindsided about something stupid that I can’t even remember, and one house that I truly loved that was drastically overpriced. But, all of those disappointments got me here, and here is the right place.
7. And finally, be open minded. You’re going to see a lot of dumps. You’ll see some diamonds in the rough too. In fact, I belly ached over a house that had an ant infestation and needed probably $50,000 of updating and fixing, but I had a vision for it. Unless you build from the ground up, and maybe even then, there will be things you want to change about any house.
Paint makes for a world of change.
(some) Projects are fun.
And remember: everything is way more expensive than you thought (redundant, but necessary).
So anyway, hello! I’m sorry! I’ll be back soon! Here’s a picture of us in front of our new house right after we closed and right before chaos ensued:
xoxo buying with Leigh Ann