A little less like my usual posts, but along the same lines…kind of 🙂
So, you are looking for a new home, or potentially thinking about it.. or maybe you aren’t, maybe you’re just reading along because you love me, and that’s ok too!! I am going to share with you our experience in buying a home and a few “do’s” and “don’ts” that we learned along the way.
Around February or March of last year we knew that we would be moving to Massachusetts within the year. Both of our military tours were ending in September and we didn’t have a desire to stay in D.C. My husband wanted to be closer to his family, and I liked the idea of that. While I love my family and I miss them very much, I had already been away from them for 3 years and knew that I would be ok continuing to be away (and by no means does this mean I didn’t want to be closer to my family! I wish we were all closer, but I knew that I would be happy wherever I was with my husband).
Know your budget. We (I) began looking around in MA at houses on various real estate sites. I wanted to prepare myself for what we could get for what we were planning to spend. It’s important to stay realistic and not look too far outside your budget, otherwise you end up with expectations that cannot be met. Look towards the lowest end of your budget – you never know what you might find.
I also wanted to get an idea of what type of home we would want – did we want a colonial? a contemporary? a cape? a craftsman? an antique? a ranch? a split level? haha, ok you get the idea. There is a lot to choose from, and depending on what your needs/wants are, you should choose accordingly.
Which brings me to my next point: wants and needs.
Something that we didn’t do, but we kind of did, was make a list – we had a list in our heads, but we would have been better off writing it down. Write down your absolutes – the things you will not compromise, along with the things you need. Now we all know, “needs” are pretty basic and mostly turn into “wants”, however it’s important to consider certain things and really determine if it is a want or a need. This will help you, trust me! We knew we would need an area for our projects – sure, you might think this is a “want”, but for us, it fit into our “need” category because it’s just something that we do, we do projects! We also knew that we needed at least 3 bedrooms because we plan on having babies someday, and we wanted to be sure we had room to expand. We knew that we needed outside space – with 2 dogs, we needed space for them too 🙂 We had others, but you get the point. Your needs will be consistent with your lifestyle.
We had plenty of “wants” like, a beautiful kitchen with granite and stainless, 3 or more bathrooms, a master suite, lots of closet space, hardwood floors, and the list goes on and on. After looking, and getting an idea, we knew that we would likely have to cut back our “want” list to make room for our budget and reality..
When we were about 3-4 months away from moving, we started looking seriously. With the help of our amazing uncle and Real Estate Agent, Rich, the hunt was on! We sent him listing after listing after listing and vice versa. I feel like we looked at every possible listing in Central Massachusetts! It was tiring, overwhelming and frustrating at times. Either it was a bad location or it was already under agreement or it looked amazing, but something was wrong…we were soon realizing that it was a little more difficult than we had thought. The other difficulty we were facing was that we were searching from a distance.. so we couldn’t look at them all in person. In the course of looking, we were only able to make 2 trips to actually look at the houses.
On our first trip, we looked at, maybe 3 houses. On that trip we found a house. It was a contemporary home, which was different than we thought we wanted, but it had amazing character and lots of open space. I had visions of this house being ours.. I could picture the things I wanted to do and our décor throughout. I made one of the biggest mistakes of house hunting…..I fell in love. Before the weekend was over, we went and looked at the same house again. At this point I had about 24 hours to come up with 10 thousand other ideas and things to do with this house, BAD, all bad things. I had been told by several people, several different times “Don’t set your heart on the first one” and “Don’t love it too quickly, you still have the home inspection to get through”… We made an offer that week and scheduled the home inspection. Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I had MORE time to dream about our new home and all the great things I wanted to do…..bad. The home inspection results came in, and they weren’t that great. In the end, we chose not to continue trying for this house. I had to break up with this home that I had fallen in love with….that I had hundreds of amazing ideas for..I felt like I had a connection! It was hard to do..but I let go.
On our second trip, we looked at several other houses and I just wasn’t impressed. My husband isn’t as picky as I am, so this is why I’m no longer saying “we”. His “need” list was a little shorter than mine. After our second trip, we kind of knew that we needed to either make a choice and cut somethings from our lists, or move without a home, put our things in storage and have to move again – this was not on the “want” list! We weren’t moving all our belongings twice!! Finally, my wonderful husband convinced me that we didn’t HAVE to have a perfect kitchen….and that we could change some other things to make it fit into our “wants” down the road. So we chose our home. I may have kicked and cried a little, but we did it. And let me just say, I AM SO HAPPY WE DID IT!!!! Sometimes it can be so hard to get past the cosmetics and see the true potential. When we looked at our home the first time, I hated it. I compared every little thing to the one I had fallen in love with. I found a reason to dislike even the good things. All the reason to take the advise of NOT falling in love. I have now fallen in love with a new home. We took the relationship slow! And now it’s amazing. We are still making improvements and making it ours, but it was one of the best decisions we made!
In a nutshell, here are my SIX things to consider when home buying:
1) determine your budget
2) decided on the style of home you want
3) make a list of your needs
4) make a list of your wants
5) DON’T FALL IN LOVE
6) look beyond the cosmetics
Thank you for reading along, and I hope my tips make home buying easier for you 🙂