I'm writing this post and I am still in disbelief that I'm an official homeowner. And not just any kind of gone but a gorgeous house built in 1900. A lot of people buy houses, and all of them at some point go through a process of looking for a house as a first-time home buyer. I'd like to share with you my experience and what I've learned along the way.
Let's be honest, It's far from an ideal time to buy a house. The prices are inflated after the pandemic, mortgage rates skyrocketed and the inventory is low. But even with all that, the main thing I took out of this journey is that YOUR house will find you, or simply put, if it's meant to be, it will happen.
We started looking in early February and my house found me 4 weeks later. I looked overall at more than 40 different houses and even though a lot of them were charming and cute, I never had that feeling... I know, I don't want to sound like a cliche, but when you know, you know...
As soon as I walked into my beautiful old house, I could feel that it was my home, from the first step. Even my agent said that while working together for a month she didn't see me light up so much as when I walked into that house.
So all the roads were leading to this place after all, and here is what I've learned along the way.
Find a good real estate agent
Yes, I'll put it as the first one. And by good, I don't mean someone who has 25 years of experience (it's a plus, of course) but someone who are you comfortable spending your time with.
You need a person who will point out to you things that you are overlooking, who will understand your needs, and won't waste your time on places that definitely won't work for you. And also, find someone who is fun to hang out with and share ideas with.
Write a list
When I found the right agent for me, I wrote down a list of things that I must have, nice haves and absolutely deal breakers.
My must-haves included:
- Natural light
- A lot of space
- A backyard
- A garage or shed for the workshop
- 4 bedrooms
- Office space
- A large wall where I could build a library
- Large kitchen
- Small windows and dark space
- Too contemporary
Writing down a list will give you an idea of what are your focus points. But this brings me to the next tip.
So you write a list and are ready to start looking. Be prepared that you'd have to compromise on something. Ideally, the compromise would have to come from the "nice haves", but it's not always the case.
In my situation, I had a garage as a must-have but had to accept the fact that I won't have a garage for a while because everything else checked the box.
You might also have to close your eyes to small details that could be fixed. And use your imagination, look at the bones, not at the color of the wallpaper. Walls could be painted, shelves could be added, and floors could be sanded... What is more important is that the structure is solid and you don't have to tear down walls right away. And of course, the most important thing is that the house feels like home and with your beautiful touch it could become one.
Look at as many houses as you can
Since it's your first home and you have no idea what you are getting yourself into, look at as many houses as you can and your agent is willing to organize a showing for you. The more houses you look at, the better idea you'll have about what you actually want.
And go outside of your comfort zone and look at houses that you never thought you'd like - you could be surprised.
Before I found my house, I thought I didn't want anything older than the 1950s. Don't get me wrong, I love old houses, but I didn't want to deal with the issues that come with such an oldie. When I saw that my house was built in 1900, I was skeptical at first. I was very intrigued but definitely worried about the condition of the structure. Oh, how glad I am that I took a look at it. As soon as I walked in, I had a feeling of coming home.
So be flexible, and look at places even if they don't match your criteria on paper.
As soon as you find the one, move fast! Don't let others snatch it away. In today's market, you need to act quickly or someone else will take it from under your nose.
I know that it's a great commitment and a big decision, probably one of the biggest in life, but try to make up your mind fast.
Check the neighborhood
I never had questions if I want to live in this town or not, it's been a dream of mine for the last 5 years. But there are a few things I didn't know and wish I checked before we bought the house.
For example, the garbage disposal is private and you have to hire a company to pick it up for you.
This town has 36" feedback for building permits, which could get in a way of putting a garage on the property.
Ugh, I was trying to think about something else and can't come up with any. But if you are not familiar with the neighborhood where you found a perfect house, I'd suggest doing a bit of research.
Sign up for the local Facebook group, go on a stroll in the neighborhood, or even drive around at different times of the day.
I'm sure there are more tips I could come up with, but this is it for now.
My last and most important tip is to ENJOY THE PROCESS! I know, it's very stressful and time-consuming, but it could also be very fun!
Looking for a house as a first-time home buyer could be a daunting task, but don't be frightened! It will be fun!
Good luck with your search and I hope you'll find the house of your dreams!