Ugh, house hunting. I knew it was going to be a struggle. Everyone told us it was going to take months and that it wasn’t going to be easy. We heard struggles from our friends and coworkers: struggles of not finding a house, having the wrong people helping you find a house and the worst of them all — finding a house and losing it (whether out-bid or already under contract) but no one mentioned how there weren’t any houses out there.
To be honest, most of our friends aren’t looking for a house at the same time we did, so for them, the market was better, but I’ve learned recently that it’s definitely a seller’s market and as a buyer, that really stinks.
Here’s some things I’ve learned:
Find the Right Realtor
We had the perfect realtor from Howard Hanna. Maureen was so professional, informative, nice but also laid back which made the whole process easy. She also didn’t try to sway us at all — she was honest, she watched us as we went through houses for our reactions and used that to tell us if she thought it was worth it. For example, we saw a house that we didn’t love but could make it work, she was honest with us and said, you know there is a lot of showings today, I don’t think this house is worth a bidding war. We agreed and that settled that.
Find the Right Mortgage Broker
We also had a mortgage broker which was really great as well. We even met with ClearPath Mortgage Solutions before our realtor, not just to get pre-approved but to understand in advance examples of what we would pay a month depending on the cost of a house. When we were serious about buying one, we got in touch with them first and found out our monthly payments and what the cost of closing etc would be. It was a great help to feel really comfortable financially before we committed.
Don’t forget about the Closing Costs
Which is definitely something I forgot about when looking for the house. I wasn’t thinking that on top of my deposit, there would also be all these other costs that would happen too. Which was a bummer, but again, good to know in advance.
Expect to find some duds.
There has definitely been some houses that even before I walked in I had said no to. If you know what you don’t like, it makes it easy.
Know what you want but be flexible.
This has been the hardest thing for us. We really want certain things but we are starting to realize we might not get everything we want. Which means we need to be flexible in what we want and be willing to change some of our needs if we think we can “live” with it.
Stay in a range you feel comfortable with
Sure you might find a house that you love, and sure you might be pre-approved for a certain amount but that doesn’t mean you can actually afford that amount. Stay realistic. Make sure you can still live your lifestyle even with your house. A mortgage broker from the start is the perfect way to do this. We ended up in a multiple-offer house and both our realtor and mortgage broker were able to 1) give us ideas on how to win the house and 2) financially be able to let us know that we could do it.
It’s probably going to be terrible
The whole process isn’t going to be easy, remember, it’s the biggest purchase of your life. There will probably be a lot of frustration and there might be some arguments. Try to stay patient (definitely one of my weaknesses)
This is what I’ve learned so far at house hunting. We did end up winning on the house with multiple offers, so now it’s just time for all the other stuff. Look for a post later in the summer on the process after you say yes!