Yes, the backyard really sold me, but there was so much more to finding the perfect house
Sometimes when I give advice on a post I don’t want to give you the impression I’m an expert – they say you need 10,000 hours to be considered an expert. If I were a real estate expert I’d be Donald Trump. I thought I’d just write a little post on buying a home if you’re hoping to one day and my thoughts and experiences.
My parents are into real estate in California and Mr. Wonderful and I own two properties – my sweet little town home will forever be our investment rental and and we have the house we live in now. Even though I didn’t buy my first place until I was 23, my apartments were in prime locations. I learned when you say, “Wow! That’s a great location!” when you say where you live, it’s truth.
The best advice I have ever heard verbally: Pick a house based upon location, not what the inside looks like. You can always change the inside but never the location.
This advice was given to me by a makeup artist friend 10 years ago while I was looking for my first place. He lived in an area that he hated but he lived in a nice new condo and he hated coming home and seeing an icky neighborhood. He couldn’t even sell it to move, either, he was stuck.
Our home is 1750 square feet, small, but I love it!
Where we live now we have flyers sent to our home introducing families hoping to move into our neighborhood and every so often the door bell rings with someone asking if we will consider selling. This makes me feel super great about where we live, and as we continue to add things to the inside of our home to really nest and make it ours, it’s so worth it.
So that’s what I’ve got for you – find a home in a good location that you love.
Things to consider when buying a home
- If you’re able to meet one of your neighbors, do. When I was looking at homes a neighbor ran up to me and my realtor and she was so excited. She was adorable. Then she proceeded to walk with us to the backyard and show us a tree she hated in that backyard and the story about the previous owner and how he wouldn’t cut it down since it was leaning on her property, yadda yadda. After she left my realtor looked at me and said, “And that would be your neighbor.” No thanks.
- Don’t buy a home based upon where you work. We all know being close to work is great, and I don’t know the average years of how long someone works at their job, but I doubt it’s more than 5 years. You’re buying a home for long term, make sure you like the community, the people who go to the nearest grocery store, the school district, that stuff. Don’t live too far (maybe 30 minutes max is decent) but if I had to buy a home where my old corporate job was, I would’ve been in a yucky neighborhood and stuck there.
- Don’t buy a house in a weird location just because you can get bigger. UNLESS this is what you really need and want, and be honest. This is not from my experience but seeing others do this. You have this big beautiful house with more space to entertain but no one wants to see you because you live too far, no one makes plans with you because you’re on the outskirts and by nothing fun. Then you just get lonely in your big house. Or you have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to do any social activity that you end up spending so much on gas or car repair expenses it may not make sense for your lifestyle.
- Look past the wall colors, fixtures, hardware, and even carpet. All can be replaced, and you probably will like that anyway. I had to replace all the brass with knobs I preferred from The Home Depot, replaced the carpet in two rooms even though they were new (I didn’t want a brown, I wanted low pile carpet in a cream), and I painted and changed out every single fixture, ceiling fan, light, all of it. That’s what makes it your own and so much fun!
- Be honest with what you want in a home. I bought in 2011 the right time before the buyers went crazy. I saw a really adorable home, I probably looked at 30 homes (right Kat?) and I liked it. We stood outside and she said, “Well, what do you think, what do you like about this house?” I told her I loved that it was new inside. Then she asked me, “What don’t you like?” and I said, “If I could pick up this house and move it over there (pointing in the direction of where I live now), I want it in that neighborhood.” And she said, “Ok, then let’s just concentrate on finding a home there.” Don’t let anyone pressure you into something you don’t want to buy, it’s a lot of money. My real estate agent and friend was so amazing and wanted me to be happy.
- Buy a fixer upper. This is called instant equity – once you put in the sweat. If you buy an already done perfect home at the high price, you won’t really have much value increased unless the market goes up. If you buy a fixer upper, you pay a low amount, throw in some G’s and make it how you want, and instantly you just increased the value by more than what you spent (if you do it correctly).
- Know what you don’t want in your home. For me, that was no pool. I was searching as a single gal and I didn’t want the expense of maintaining one, even though growing up with one was amazing (if you have kids, it’s so worth it).
- Don’t purchase on emotion. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars here. Y0u shouldn’t overpay for a junky home, or any home if it’s over your budget. Know your limit and what the market is. I put in an offer for a home that wanted full price. The seller’s agent was really rude to mine and laughed at my offer. That’s fine, I’m not paying full price woman, not in 2011 anyway. She got her full commission she wanted when some other family offered full price, and I found an even better home with a nicer larger lot in the same neighborhood for my price. My bank account won.
- Don’t go house poor. I am going to write a post about the love for a tiny home, but for now, I’ll just say this quoting Dana Miller from House Tweaking who talks about downsizing, “We’re not looking for our dream house. We’re looking for a house in which to pursue our dreams.” With a big house comes a big mortgage, which is fine if you can afford it, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your home paid off by age 40 instead of 65? For me and the Mr., this is owning everything, financial freedom from banks, loans, all of it. The ability to travel, buy things, and enjoy the good life, he can retire early. The idea is for us to not be home as much, and be out enjoying life!
Enjoy the process of making a home your own, it’s so fun! Have you learned anything from searching for a perfect home? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Diana Elizabeth and Mr. Wonderful might want to add on, but right now, the size is great!