With our one year home anniversary around the corner, we thought it would be fun to think back on the process of buying a home and some of the things we wish we had known before diving in.
The Right Realtor Makes All the Difference
We learned this the hard way. We started looking for a house (somewhat) by accident. I downloaded a couple of the home-buying apps on my phone to entertain the idea of buying a house. We did a couple drive-bys. You know, driving by a house you can’t afford in the best part of town and staring longingly at the wraparound porch and lake view? During one particular drive-by, we really wanted to see the inside of a house. On one of the apps, a featured/sponsored realtor popped up. We thought, “What the heck. Let’s give them a call.”
Let me just tell you, do not choose a realtor this way. I’m sure there are great realtors on these apps, but I should’ve trusted word-of-mouth over convenience. Once this realtor showed us the house (it wasn’t for us, anyway), we felt “stuck” to them.
After a few months of trying to get our realtor to send us potential properties and even a house offer that fell through (more on that later), we were frustrated. In the end, this realtor was not our advocate and it felt like they didn’t want to give us the time of day since we were in the “starter house” price range. My parents were also listing their house at the time and had a great realtor who recommended a local realtor for us to try. She turned out to be the most informed, greatest advocate, tell-it-like-it-is boss lady ever. Shout out to Evelyn Broxterman at XcellenceRealty in Lakeland.
You Will Fall in Love…and Have Your Heart Broken
Okay, story time. Chris and I found the perfect house. It was two-stories (pretty rare in good ol’ Florida, home of stucco track homes), had a brick facade, cute shutters, big windows, shady trees, huge fenced backyard, and everything inside had been remodeled by an investment company. We were in love. We could picture our dog running around the backyard, having parties on the back patio, and having kids to fill all of the rooms.
We put in an offer, negotiated with the seller, and finally had the offer accepted. Inspection day, we are wandering around the house waiting for the inspector. We are taking measurements, planning furniture arrangements, and spying on our future neighbors.
When the inspector arrives (a random inspector we found online), he tells us he had inspected the properties six months prior. He brings us around to the side yard and shows us a patch of dead grass and tells us there had been a 13' unidentified hole there last time he inspected the property. Say what!? In Florida, sink holes are a thing. A very, very bad thing. And this sounded a LOT like a sink hole. After a lot of research, we knew this was not the house for us. Our dreams were crushed, but at least we weren't sucked into a sink hole...AMIRIGHT? All that to say, the house you initially put an offer on may not work out for a variety of reasons.
Pick "Your People" Carefully
When I say your people, I mean anyone who is representing you in the home-buying process. Choose people based on recommendations from people you trust instead of web searches. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Mortgage broker
- Mortgage company
- Title company
Be Prepared for Anything
No matter how thorough your inspection is, you will run into issues with your house no matter the age. The first week in our house, my mom came into town to help us paint. As I was moving the fridge out of the way to paint the wall behind it, I heard a crack and water started gushing out of the wall. In seconds, the main area was flooded with two inches of water. We had no idea where the master nozzle was. My mom felt like she should go to the side of the house and start digging below the hose spigot. Miraculously, she found the master nozzle and shut the water off. Totally a God thing.
Plenty of towels and phone calls later, we found out that the water connector from the wall to the fridge had a crack in it. Based on the waterline on the back of the molding, this had happened before.
Side note: Find out where the master water nozzle is before you move in.
HGTV is the Disney-fied version of Home Buying
Don't be discouraged when the process takes a lot longer than looking at three homes and picking one. Tearing down walls, remodeling kitchens, and replacing floors is a lot harder (and messier) than it looks. It's great to want a fixer-upper, but be sure you are financially able and capable of doing the work it takes to fix it up.
Saturdays Aren't for Relaxing Anymore
Once we moved in, we discovered we had a lot of new responsibilities. The yard had to be maintained, the additional square footage had to be cleaned, and basic repairs had to happen on a regular basis. It wasn't as simple as calling a property manager anymore. We learned early on that Saturdays were the only full day that we could work on all of these things.
Though houses come with a lot of work, I am so glad we bought a home. I love the security and freedom I feel in our home. We've made it ours and have already made some great memories. If it wasn't so rainy/dreary this weekend, I would've snapped some shots of the inside and outside of the house. Soon, I promise!
I hope these tips helped you if you are considering buying a home. If you have any questions or any advice for homebuyers, comment below!