Hi Loves! Many of you were asking great questions about the house hunt that landed us in our new house. While compiling my answer, I thought it would be easiest to break it down into the top 10 tips I have to make your home search easier. Here goes!
1 – Figure out your finances, set a budget and stick to it!
House hunting is exciting and overwhelming all at once. Making such a big purchase does really require that you have a strong sense of your own finances. My husband and I called a mortgage guy right away when we decided we wanted to start looking for a new home. He was wonderful and a total lifesaver during the whole process. We scheduled a call and spent over 1 hour on the phone the first time as we ran through both of our financial histories, previous home purchases, and how much we wanted to be paying per month. He gave us various options of different mortgage and financing options that we would have had no idea of had we not talked to him. We called him daily at times during the whole process because he was patient enough to answer our questions about wording we didn’t understand, contracts, etc. When we bought the house we met him the first time at closing and he felt like an old family friend. I can’t speak more highly of him and I think everyone should have someone like this in their corner. Call around to different people if you don’t feel this level of support!
2 – Make a list of priorities and ensure your home has MOST of those areas
Everyone has a different reason for looking for a new home, whether it is more room for an expanding family, a bigger yard for a pet, or more storage, etc. Make a list of your MUST haves in your new home and make sure that you are looking at homes that only have all or most of these features. There are so many homes for sale and the pictures can be misleading. Read more about how I think House Hunting is like Online Dating here! Also, reading the actual description and breakdown of the home is most helpful. When we first started house hunting we were looking at everything we could, even if it didn’t meet our “must have” list and we got burnt out quickly from that approach. Sometimes making your list of must haves takes time so be patient with yourself.
3 – Overlook cosmetic, easy changes like paint colors
If you read my previous post about my house hunting experience and my must have list, you will see that I fell in love with a home that needed a lot of work, even though I had imagined I would move into a “move-in ready” home. Somehow when I walked into my home I just knew it was the one regardless of the mustard yellow colors on the wall, the shoji screens on the windows and the other weird aesthetic areas of the home. Paint is so easy to change, and we picked colors that I just LOVE now. If you are looking for beautiful grays that lean toward the light bluish side, I would strongly recommend the color Sherwin Williams Krypton #6247 and storm cloud #6249. These colors transformed our home! You can check them out here!
4 – Determine how much work you want to do in the home
Luckily my husband and I love DIY projects and we have some talented family members that are more than willing to help! We always thought we wanted a move in ready home, but the new construction homes we were looking at had very little character. If you are somebody who loves DIY projects than you might feel very comfortable knowing you have to redo a few rooms for the home to be complete. Are homes ever really complete?! But for some people with time constraints, small children and other responsibilities, it is important that everything is ready to go when you move in. Making this decision before you fall in love with a home is important!
5 – Go by the area both during the day and evening when house hunting.
Say hello to the neighbors. See if the neighboring homes are well maintained., Are there decorations out during the holidays? When I bought my first home, I was a bit unfamiliar with the area. It was in the middle of Philadelphia and like any city you can land yourself on a wonderful block or on a block with some sketchy characters. I had my eye on 2 different homes and before I put an offer in I went by both homes MANY times, at all times of the day, weeknights and weekends, to really get a feel for the neighborhood. I also looked around at the homes nearby to see if they were well maintained which can be especially important in an area that has a lot of renting. Are the landlords properly maintaining their homes? I also looked at the neighbors homes to see if they had decorated for the holidays which just shows that people have some pride in their homes. All of these lead me to 1 home over the other and it really was a wonderful neighborhood.
6 – Be open-minded
I feel like house hunting can lead you to a home that is very different from what you thought you would end up with. Sometimes that leads to the happiest of relationships 🙂 Enjoy being thrown off your game a little and fall in love with your own mustard yellow home 🙂
7 – Remember to look at all areas of the home
It is expected that you will open drawers, look into closets and cabinets and really ensure that you know what is behind each door. You definitely don’t want to purchase a home only to realize that all the closets are too small to organize all of your clothes and accessories. Tragedy!!
8 – Look at all the big ticket items
Of course a home inspection will turn up any big challenges with your plumbing or roof, but it is always important to look at the air conditioning, heater, etc because fixing or replacing any of these items can put you right over your budget. If you identify issues early there are ways to factor them into your offer so that they are replaced by the current owner.
9 – Hold the trash talk in the home
I have a friend look who was looking a home to buy and while at the house she spoke very openly about some of the personal touches the homeowner had in the home that weren’t her style. Come to find out, the homeowner had a recording device in the home and was completely offended by my friend. When she put an offer in the homeowner turned it down because she felt that her home had been disrespected. While this is maybe not a totally normal occurrence, keep the trash talk for the car ride home!
10 – Write a letter to the current owners with your offer
This is one of my favorite tips! When we put our home offer in, we found out there were 2 other offers on the table and during the course of the year that the house had been on the market, the homeowners turned down multiple other offers. They weren’t in a rush to give up the home and they really had a personal connection to it. My realtor recommended that my husband and I write a letter along with our offer that talks about why we loved the home. As hokey as it may have been we focused on how we could see our children running through the backyard and how we could see this home as our forever home. We got the house and they said that they took our offer because they could tell we would treat the home with love. Hey, whatever works!!!
House hunting can be super exciting and stressful at the same time. But enjoy the process! What tips do you have for house hunting?? Happy hunting!