Tips From a Girl Whose Been There
I want to preface this blog by saying that I am not a real estate agent and have no real idea what I am talking about when it comes to what is best for an interested homebuyer’s decisions. I am simply a person who bought a house a few months ago, couldn’t be happier with the choice I made, and want to pass along a few pieces of advice that I think could be helpful for those going through the process that I just finished.
Our homebuying process began about three years ago when my husband and I were living in a one-bedroom condo, which we loved. While taking a camping trip in Harlan County, Kentucky I was bit by a Mud Dobber and subsequently had to be rushed to the nearby hospital as I was covered in hives and my eyes were swollen shut. Not only did we find out that day that it takes quite a lot of Benadryl to reduce the puffiness associated with a Mud Dobbber bite, but that we were expecting our first baby. We were both in shock as you could imagine. From that day, our search was on for the perfect house for our growing family.
My husband and I started off on our own, without a realtor (Big Mistake). We searched websites weekly, went to open houses on Sunday, and drove around the neighborhoods we found most desirable in our spare time. At first we thought it would be easy to find a new home so we didn’t take things too seriously. That’s how we ended up converting our sunroom into a nursery for our son Maxwell. We would have preferred to move before Max was born, but things weren’t that bad, we were comfortable, that was until he began to walk. Maxwell’s toys began to take over our small space and he was frustrated with no back yard or room to play. Just when I felt like things couldn’t get any more crowded, I found out I was expecting baby number two.
The news of number two put the search for a house in to high gear. Knowing what I know now, I would have drastically changed the way we searched for a home. I truly believe it would have cut down on the time and energy that we spent looking.
My first tip is to do some soul searching. Research the areas that you are interested in moving to and really decide what neighborhood best fits you and your family. My husband and I lived in a condo in the Highlands and wanted our house to be in the Highlands. We looked in that area, but didn’t think we could find anything in our price range so we focused on other neighborhoods. We wasted so much time, nearly two years, going to open houses and private showings of homes, and driving through neighborhoods that in reality we would not be happy living in. In the end, we did find a house in the Highlands that fit our budget and everything on our list of must-haves. Nearly every day we say to ourselves how lucky we are to live in a neighborhood that we love, with neighbors we enjoy, and a lifestyle that we want to be a part of. I suggest that you decide which neighborhood lifestyle fits yours and stick with a similar community to join. If you are just a little patient and wait for the right house to come on the market I bet you will save yourself a lot of wasted time and energy in the end.
My next tip is to scour the neighborhood and see what the neighbors are like. If the community is offering any festivals, yard sales, or farmers markets, go and introduce yourself. See if it is a welcoming community or if people stay to themselves. You can tell a lot by driving by the house you are looking at on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to see what the neighbors are doing.
My last tip is to do a 360 degree view of the house. Look at all the buildings around the house and who is living there. Are there any apartment complexes around the house and if so what kind of tenants live there? If you have children are your neighbors to either side of you friendly and okay with the occasional ball in the yard? You would be surprised how many times we ran in to cranky neighbors! The building across the street is the one you are going to be looking at the most, so make sure it’s not an eyesore. Most of the time these are not deal breakers, but just some food for thought.
All of these tips are things that my family happened upon my sheer luck, karma, or fate if you believe in that. We put offers in on over six houses in neighborhoods as far away as Goshen. At the time I was devastated, but looking back, luckily, none of those offers were accepted because the Highlands was the right fit for us. My final thoughts for you, if you are struggling through the homebuying process now or are about to begin, is don’t settle. Whatever house you end up with will be the perfect one. It might not be the “forever perfect house,” but it will be the “right now perfect house.” Good Luck, and that moment when you are sitting in your new living room looking back and saying, “remember when…” will come soon enough.
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