AKA how not to stress yourself COMPLETELY out when house hunting!
Back in the day, when I buying MY first house, my agent told me the truest statement I’ve ever heard. Move is a four-letter word. Yup, moving, buying a place, or selling a home is difficult enough to try the patience of a saint. If you watch HGTV, buying a house looks easy & fun. In reality, the purchase process can be stressful, demoralizing, and at the very least annoying as crap. Doesn’t that sound like fun? As a Realtor and a homeowner, I’m a little biased, but I think that it is definitely worth the price of admission, as long as you know it’ll probably be a bumpy road. While we won’t talk about everything that could go wrong (we don’t want to cause any panic attacks 😉), we will look at a few ways to make the process more enjoyable or at least a little less stressful.
1. Get Pre-Approved – buyers always tend to want to hold off on this one, but that is a huge mistake. Even if you KNOW you’ll be approved for a specific amount, it’s still important. Talking with a lender will help with a few things: 1) let you know what your payment will realistically look like (with all the taxes, insurances, and HOA fees). This allows you to find a price point that you actually feel comfortable with. No sense in being house poor! 2) let you know what your closing costs will approximately be. Just because you have the down payment squirreled away, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. All purchases have closing cost, even cash transactions. Even if you plan on asking a seller to contribute money to your closing costs it’s a good idea to know what to ask for.
2. Know your timeline – What type of buyer is the most stressed out buyer? The one that has to find a house yesterday or they’ll be homeless. Obviously sometimes life throws us curveballs and things don’t go as planned. However, if possible it’s good to sit down and make a timeline of when you can or want to buy. Generally, any loan will take 30-45 days, and per The National Association of Realtors, the average buyer takes 3 months to find the house. Give yourself enough time so you don’t have to settle for the first house you see!
3. Realize there is no perfect home – I know, I know, I just said don’t settle, but the honest truth there is no such thing as “the perfect house.” However, there is such a thing as house that is the perfect compromise. Unless you just won the lottery, you probably won’t be able to afford the size, condition, AND location of your perfect house. Be aware that you might have to reorganize the priorities on your wish list or at least keep an open mind. This is especially true when it comes to buying a home when you’re in a relationship.
4. Enjoy getting to know new areas – If you’re new to an area or are interested in living in a different part of town educate yourself on the communities you’re considering. Even if you have driven through that neighborhood for years, spend some time getting to know it. Most enjoyable way to do this? Hang out! On the weekends go to a brewery, boutique, or park. Check out local events like concerts or farmer’s markets. Not only will you be able to have a relaxing weekend, but you’ll also know if it’s the neighborhood for you! Another bonus? It’ll help with the stress of the home buying process.
5. Define your communication strategy with your agent – Real estate agents suck at communication. It’s true. We’re all guilty at one time or another. How do you make sure that it doesn’t happen to you? At the beginning of the home search talk with your agent about how much communication you’d like throughout the process. Some buyers only want to hear if there is an issue, other buyers want an update even if the update is “there is no update.” Knowing at the beginning will help your agent provide better service. Another thing to discuss is HOW you want to communicate. Some people like a phone call, some text, other emails. A good agent will adjust their own communication style to make you more comfortable.
6. Don’t have too many cooks in the Kitchen – Especially if this is your first house you’re going to want reassurance from your friends and family. There is NOTHING wrong with that, just know that they won’t be paying your mortgage each month 😉. In my experience, everyone you know and love will want to give you advice, because they bought a house once upon a time. Sometimes it’s excellent advice other times be prepared to take it with a grain of salt. Ladies, it’s like taking too many people to buy your wedding dress, everyone just wants their opinions heard. It can be stressful trying to validate your opinion or choice, and they may talk you out of a home you really want. My advice? Stick with your real estate agent when looking, once you’re under contract that’s when you get to show off the property to mom and dad!