How to buy a house – lessons learned from a first time home buyer
How to buy a house is something I am often asked about now that my husband and I are homeowners.
When we started looking for a home last summer, we learned a few things. The first thing, which is so obvious now, but wasn’t at the time: buying a home is not easy.
You don’t just check out a house or two, love one of them enough to buy it, can afford the price tag, can find zero problems with the property, and move into your new home within weeks. That is not how it works at all.
1. Find a good realtor
My husband and I planned to buy a home on our own. We thought it would be a waste of time to look for a realtor to represent us because we’d heard so many horror stories from friends about realtors that didn’t do what they’d promised.
We looked at listings online and found a home we were very much interested in, so we contacted who we thought was the seller. It turned out to be the sellers’ real estate agent. We set up an appointment to see the home and although we didn’t end up purchasing it, we did keep the agent.
Kirby Chan took us to multiple homes, found the perfect one (for us), and helped us to negotiate the cost of the home we now own. If it wasn’t for him, I have no doubt that we would still be living in our rental.
2. Shop around
With any major purchase, you always want to look around at everything that is available. You need to be able to compare things and determine what it is you truly want and need in a home.
Always visit multiple homes when you’re looking to buy. Never visit one home and put in a bid right away, otherwise, you could possibly miss a golden opportunity to buy a better home for a better price.
I don’t care how many homes you visit – just visit more than one.
3. Always sleep on it
There was one home that we looked at that I loved so much, I wanted to call the sellers right away and offer them all of our money. My husband talked me out of this, of course, and said we needed to sleep on it because it was a huge purchase.
We had to make sure that we were certain we wanted to pay the hefty price tag for the home.
It’s a good thing he is so rational because after sleeping on it, we decided that the home was not right for us after all.
4. Research the area
One very important thing we learned about how to buy a house was to research the area very well. The first home we wanted to buy was perfect – until we did our research and found out how high the crime rate was in that area.
We fell in love with that house and it was extremely difficult to walk away, but we knew we had to. From that moment on, we vowed to research areas before we viewed any homes.
We found a bunch of areas we liked, told our realtor, and he found us homes to look at in those areas. When he sent us the lists of homes, we did even more in-depth research on those particular neighborhoods.
Before bidding on a home, always check the school ratings, the crime rate in the area (we used the Toronto crime rate page) and the demographics of others in the area (if you are a young family, you will likely want to live in an area with other young families).
5. Never judge the decor in a home
I know, black paint is not the most inviting. Neither is lime green or bright pink with yellow polka-dots. But guess what – that is an easy thing to change when you move in.
Pay no attention to the small cosmetic “problems” you see in homes and instead, focus on the bigger picture. Does the home have a good layout, lots of natural light, enough bedrooms to accommodate your needs? Those are the things you want to look for when shopping for a home.
Ignore paint colors, carpeting, cabinet hardware, and what someone’s shower curtain looks like (seriously, I saw someone complain about the color of a shower curtain on a home buying TV show!).
6. Be patient
I thought I was prepared for a very long process when we started looking for a home, but I wasn’t. I wanted to move so badly that looking for a home started to take over my life. I wanted to look at homes all the time. It eventually got to the point that I would want to bid on a home just so we could “get it over with already”.
I was impatient and very unprepared for the emotional roller coaster that a home search brings.
If there’s just one thing you take from this article, let it be this: be patient. Don’t give up hope that you will eventually find the home you’re searching for. With time, you will.
Buying a home is no easy task. It takes time (lots of it) and perseverance. You also need to accept that you will not be able to get every single thing you want in a home. You will need to compromise. Quite a bit, actually.
If homeownership is your goal, you need to mentally prepare yourself for the ups and downs that come along with house hunting. They’re inevitable, but nine times out of ten, they’re worth it.