In January 2016, my fiancé and I began house hunting for the first time.
We weren’t getting married until the end of July, so we thought we had more than enough time to find our first home. We weren’t asking for much: just 2+ bedrooms, 1+ bathrooms, a big yard and kitchen; an appropriate distance from neighbors, hardwood floors, and a fireplace were also on our list but weren’t deal breakers. Above all else, we wanted a nice, cozy place to begin our life as husband and wife.
July 2016, came and we still hadn’t found the home we had be longing for. If the house was a good size, the yard was almost nonexistent. If the exterior was freshly painted and the landscape was well kept, the interior was filled with wood paneling and shag carpet. We even toured one beautifully updated home only to find out that it had a sinking foundation! Discouraged and defeated, we signed a year-long apartment lease and put our dream of owning our own home on hold.
March 2017 and the hunt has begun again, and it is by no means a walk in the park.
Having been through the house hunting process twice in just over a year’s time, I thought I would share 5 important things I’ve learned along the way:
Give yourself enough time to thoroughly search.
It’s not likely the first house you look at will be the one you end up buying, so be sure you have enough time to take a look at all of your options. From my personal experience, six months may be enough time to find a house but not necessarily a home. Buying a house is a huge undertaking and it’s important to do your research on all the homes in your area.
Consider the lifespan of the houses you’re considering.
For every house you look at, take into account how long you will actually stay there. Is there enough room for a growing family — or will even adding a dog make it a tight squeeze? You may not want to invest in a property if you’re going to be there any less than 5 years. And trust me: time will fly by!
Understand the difference between compromising and settling.
A compromise would be me accepting carpet floors over hardwood — because that carpet can ultimately be changed to hardwood floors. Settling would be buying a house I thought was decent but didn’t love, simply to have a house. Be willing to compromise, don’t be willing to settle.
Be in touch with reality.
We all have a list of items that make up our “dream home” — but the reality is that we probably aren’t going to get everything we want. Not every house on the block has a pool or crown molding — especially the houses most first time home buyers will be looking at! It’s also important to remember that we all aren’t as talented as Chip and Joanna Gaines. A fixer upper is a massive undertaking and we shouldn’t buy a home simply because it has the potential to be great.
Calculate the trust cost of ownership.
There’s more to buying a home than the ticket price you see listed online. Inspection fees, closing costs, insurance, utilizes, maintenance and more should be taken into consideration when calculating what you can afford. Don’t stretch yourself thin to buy the best house on the block. Be realistic about what you can afford and don’t put yourself into a situation where paying the mortgage is all you can think about.
Buying a home is not an easy process but you can find the right one when you save your money! Give your expectations a reality check and spend time in prayer to confirm you’re making the right decision.