[custom_frame_left][/custom_frame_left]When I was on maternity leave with my daughter a couple of years ago, I was forced to watch a lot of daytime television. And unless you want to watch soap operas or couples screaming at each other about paternity tests, you have very few options for any kind of quality shows.
Luckily, HGTV was there to rescue me. I watched hundreds of hours of home improvement shows. Which kind of annoyed my husband because by the time he got home from work I had a whole list of projects I wanted him to get started on. But even more than the home improvement shows, I really enjoyed House Hunters. We weren’t house hunting, but I watched hours of this show.
If you’ve never seen the show before, House Hunters features people who are in the market for a new house. On the show they look at three houses then decide which they’d like to make an offer on. It’s interesting to see not only what kind of house you can purchase for different budgets in different areas of the country, but also how some people make their decisions.
I think I enjoy this show so much because my husband and I also have a lot of first-hand experience. We’ve purchased and renovated four homes together. Shockingly, our marriage has survived, and we’ve also learned a lot about buying a house.
I’ve compiled a list of tips for those of you who are house hunting or in the market for a new home. Some of them are simply practical and others have been born out of my own personal experience and I’d like to prevent you from making some of the same mistakes we did.
1) Location, location, location. You can change almost anything else about a house, but you typically can’t pick it up and move it to a different street or another part of town. Pick a neighborhood you love.
2) Cosmetic fixes are usually easy. There were so many times that I found myself up at 3 am, feeding the Baby Who Never Slept, whisper-screaming at my television at the stupid people on House Hunters because they decided not to buy a house because they didn’t like the kitchen paint color or the fixtures in the bathroom. These are easy, inexpensive fixes. If you like the bones of the house – its size, the layout of the rooms, etc. – then you can worry about cosmetic stuff later.
3) Some things just won’t be worth the headache. My husband and I once purchased a home in which an entire bathroom was carpeted. I’m talking floor, walls, CEILING. I wish I was kidding. It was disgusting and had mold and I’ll just end the description there, but let me tell you it wasn’t worth it. Unless you’re really in love with the rest of the house or are a handyperson by trade, if it seems too overwhelming, it just might be too overwhelming.
4) Find professionals you trust. My husband and I have stuck with the same mortgage broker through every home purchase we’ve made. We value his opinion on the best ways to finance our mortgages, advice about the real estate market, everything. He’s never steered us wrong and has also helped us avoid some potential mistakes. Whether it’s a real estate agent, mortgage broker, or bank representative, you should have someone you trust, who knows the business, to help answer your questions and guide you through the process.
5) Do your research and ask questions. You should start asking questions from the very beginning of the process and don’t stop until you sign the last document. Ask about foundation problems, taxes, the neighborhood, home warranty, financing, the list is almost endless. When my husband and I bought our current house, our realtor didn’t point out that the taxes had been evaluated with a “discount” since the previous owner was an elderly gentleman. That first tax bill – without the discount applied – was a shock.
Above all of these practical tips, however, the best advice I can give is to know what you want and make sure you get it. A house is a huge purchase and you want to love where you live. You might not find a house that meets every single requirement you have, but know what is most important to you and look for that.