A single girl's home adventure

How To Buy A House, Part 2

on October 18, 2013

Now that you’ve got everything in order and know what price range you’re comfortable in, you can start the fun stuff – looking for a house!

Wait, no. First you have some decisions to make. What areas/school districts/neighborhoods are you interested in? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How many do you want? Are you able and willing to do any repairs or looking for move in ready?

Unfortunately you have to do this for yourself. It’s time to decide your needs, wants, and deal breakers. I didn’t actually put down a list until I had looked online at some houses in my price range to figure out what would and wouldn’t be possible. But there was a lot of internal debate – do I really *need* Central Air? Or is the second bathroom more important? I tried to keep my absolute needs list pretty short since I didn’t want to budge on the districts and areas I would buy in.

While I was just browsing what was available I found exactly what I wanted – a fixer-upper in a great school district. Three bed, two full baths, great square footage. But it was a short sale. So I got a recommendation from a friend for a realtor, who set up a viewing. I put my offer the next day.

A side note about your realtor: get recommendations from friends but make sure to ask what they liked and didn’t like. And make sure it’s someone they’ve actually used – not their friend’s son who just got his license. My realtor came highly recommended as a great negotiator, but I was warned that the buyer had to do the searching more independently.

Back to the offer. After a week or so the seller accepts. Great! Right? No, now we have to wait for bank approval since it’s a short sale. After more than a month of waiting I get the news- there’s a ton of liens on the title and the seller and bank won’t pay them. With all the major work needed on the house, I had to walk away.

So back to the search. I talked with my realtor about what I was looking for and he set up an email to me daily showing all listings in my price range in the towns I was interested in. I did a lot of looking online and sent him a list of about 15 houses I wanted to see. At this point I was living on a futon, and included houses I originally dismissed. Might as well look, right?

EXACTLY. Keep an open mind. And remember, pictures can be very deceiving on a computer screen! Case in point: one Saturday I had 8 viewings lined up with my realtor. I kind of had a mental ranking for them before we left. At the end of the day one of my top two choices was taken completely out of consideration. It looked great online, but in person it looked like a half blind chimpanzee did all the updating and painting. Nothing was straight, nothing looked good, and nothing made sense in the house, except the kitchen – which coincidentally the online listing focused on.

It ended up that one of the bottom two houses became my favorite, and the more I thought about the “feel” of the house and it’s character in person, it became my top choice and the house I’m now buying!

So the moral of the story is to know what you absolutely need, what your wants are, to be flexible, and not to dismiss (or fall in love with) a house just based on the pictures online.


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