I feel like we lucked out in that our house hunt only took a few weeks, but they felt like the longest weeks ever! From arranging to see a house, to making offers and waiting and waiting and waiting, it was a rather emotional journey but with a happy ending. House hunting is fun but it can be incredibly frustrating and heart breaking at times. If I had to give a new home buyer any advice, I would tell them this…
- Stay organized and keep a folder with notes.
We saw so many houses that it was incredibly easy to forget what house had what features. And I wasn’t good with remembering the address so when talking to Brian about a certain house we’d make up names for each one to avoid confusion when talking about them later. For example, “red door house” or “super big master bedroom house” or my favorite “flooded backyard house.” Also, take photos because the online listing may not have pictures of all the rooms.
- If there are no photos of certain rooms, they probably have something to hide.
For us, on houses we visited that had missing photos of certain rooms it was because the rooms were so tiny. And I admit, if we had known how tiny the room was, we wouldn’t have visited. So they want to intrigue your curiosity and get you there so you can at least see the rest of the house.
- The larger the acreage, the less updated the house.
This is probably just a regional thing for the areas where we were looking. I was full blown set on getting a house on at least a 1 acre plot because I hate neighbors, but those larger properties had one thing in common: the houses were old/dumpy/un-updated. But seeing these old houses helped me to realize that I’m not comfortable with buying a fixer upper and I’d much rather have a newer, move-in ready house on a smaller plot than a dump on a huge plot of land. That way we wouldn’t have to spend even more money to fix the place up. Which leads me to my next point…
- You’ll probably change your mind on wants & needs throughout the process multiple times.
Like I said before, I thought I’d want a big plot of land, but discovered I’d be ok with a smaller one. Also, house hunting has helped us to realize that we definitely didn’t want a pool for the upkeep, we definitely wanted a fenced in yard for the dogs, and we’d be ok with installing another shower if it came to that. Just stay open minded. You will most likely never find a house with every single thing you want unless you build it from scratch.
- If you have dogs, keep an eye open for the neighborhood dogs.
This is probably the 2nd thing we’d notice after pulling up to the house besides the house itself. We are crazy dog people like that, but we know that if there are neighbor dogs roaming around off leash, bad things will happen. For one, our dogs are not nice to new dogs, especially strange dogs that wander onto their property. It also means that random dog dumps may end up on your yard. There’s really nothing you can do about this besides talk to your neighbor but I am not one for confrontation so I’d rather not even have to deal with it at all.
- If you have dogs, and the house you are interested in had a dog, your dog will probably piss in the new house to mask the old dogs smell.
For this reason we got Monty a belly band (a velcroed piece of fabric that wraps around his belly covering his wiener) because our new house had a jack russel living there. We know Monty will mark because he did so in our rental house since there were 2 westies living here before us.
- While seeing a house, go outside, close your eyes, and listen.
We did most of our house visits right after work during rush hour traffic. So it was perfect in getting to hear the noise level at it’s worst. For this reason, we didn’t want to live off a major roadway or near a highway. Also, one house we were looking at was near a shooting range so you heard “BANG BANG BANG” every few minutes. Not for us, but someone ended up buying it anyway!
- During a bidding war, the sellers don’t always go with the highest bidder.
This happened to us on our first offer and we were so surprised because we had NO idea this could even happen. We think it had do to with either the type of loan or amount of money down the other bidders had, so just keep this in mind.
- Don’t get your hopes up.
This is so hard to do, but try not to get your hopes up until closing or you may risk a heartbreak. Anything could come up that may prevent you or the sellers from going through with the sale. The house may fail inspection, there might be a problem with your credit, who knows.
- Save as much money as you possibly can before even looking at houses.
Down payments and sellers fees take up a huge chunk of your money so make sure you have a lot of money saved up before you even look or you may be tempted to buy before you’re ready.
- Save all the pictures from the online listing of the house you are buying.
You will make your decorating decisions with them! It was so long from the time we put in an offer till the time we moved in, that I forgot certain details about the rooms…. details that are good to know before buying new furniture or decorations. All our decorating, even getting curtains and curtain rods, was done from looking at those photos and making some good guesses on measurements! (I’m pretty sure you could probably just ask the realtor to ask the sellers to give you the exact measurements though. But why do things the easy way?) Also, after a certain amount of time, the listing will come down and the photos will be unavailable to you. So save them or take your own while visiting.
- Don’t be intimidated by the people at open houses.
Each time we went to an open house and saw all the people there, my hopes dropped that we’d never be able to compete with all of them in a bidding war. But know that most of the people who visit open houses are just curious or nosy to see what it looks like in there. My mother in law is a realtor and this is her advice 😉
- The most important thing in all of this, in my opinion, is timing.
I recommend you get a realtor that is good with computers, texting, and emailing so they can get word to you ASAP when a new house that meets your requirements hits the market. Your realtor has access to a website that shows these new listings before they become available on a public website. There was one time when we were looking at a house we were going to make an offer on when we got word that paperwork had already been signed with another buyer not even 30 minutes ago. So my advice to you is to know what you want way ahead of time, see the house as soon as humanly possible, and make your best offer right away.