Happy Friday, friends! As I mentioned earlier this week, I wanted to give you some more information about the home buying process. I’m guessing this isn’t new for many of you, but it was for me and I thought it could be helpful for anyone looking at buying their first home. This isn’t a how to guide and won’t give you exact information like what the best rates are for mortgages or average price per square foot in your area because there are certainly people far more qualified than me to talk about those things. Instead, I want to give you some general tips to help you make the most of the process.
1. Find good people. Honestly, I think this is the single most important thing you can do. The two people who played the biggest role for us were our realtor and our loan officer. If this is your first time buying a house you should know that you don’t pay your Realtor anything. Their fee is actually paid by the sellers (in our state anyway). The only time this isn’t true is in for-sale-by-owner situations. But, that’s less common, so there’s really no reason to not “hire” a Realtor. The loan officer is someone you have to work with to get a loan, so it’s not really a choice. But, we talked to 4-5 different companies and everyone is different. Make sure you find someone you love and who will be realistic about the price of the mortgage. There’s more than just the cost of the loan in your monthly payment and some of the people we talked to initially didn’t include that information. The loan officer we ended up with was so thorough and made sure we were aware of the sometimes hidden costs. Since this was a new experience for us we had tons of questions and both our Realtor and loan officer answered all of them in a kind and clear way. And they would do it all over again when we inevitably forgot the details of something they told us. They were so patient with us. But, most importantly we trusted them. We could tell they really had our best interest at heart, and even though they make money when we buy a house they made sure we felt comfortable with what we were getting and knew as much as possible about it before doing anything permanent. Both of these people are your advocates throughout the whole process, so if you’re working with someone and it doesn’t feel right SWITCH.
2. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t having fun. When we decided we wanted to buy everyone we told would say “ohhhh, how fun!” And we would excitedly nod and smile and whole-heartedly agree. I’d really romanticized the idea and I think a lot of other people have too. Especially people living in expensive cities where owning a home isn’t a realistic dream (read: me). Plus, there are shows like House Hunters that bring us into the fold of the process and it all seems so effortless. But, the reality is that there’s a lot of paperwork, uncertainty, anxiety over waiting for all the pieces to fall into place, oh, and anxiety about if they don’t. I felt pretty bad about not being excited from start to finish. I felt like I was being ungrateful or bratty. But, I’ve finally come to terms with the idea that those feelings don’t live alone. I can feel excited and frustrated all at the same time. And that some days all your doing is the tedious, crappy stuff and it’s okay to feel like it kind of sucks. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and you certainly aren’t the only one.
3. Take it one day at a time. Buying a house is probably the single biggest purchase you’ll make (until you buy your next house) AND it’s confusing. I mean, wouldn’t it be easier if one of the very biggest commitments you’ll ever make were something you knew way more about? Like, say, your favorite places to go shopping? Life is unfair I guess. Ha! But, really, some days I wonder how we even did it. There’s so much involved and we knew nothing about the process when we started. But we took it one day at a time. We figured out the first thing, which led to the next and then the next and then the next, until we were finished. We asked questions, we researched, we found people we trusted to help us. And we did it, just like the millions of people before us, and just like you will.
4. Be nice to yourself. Don’t let the weight this important purchase get to you. Try and keep things fun. Go out for pizza and beer when you have to talk about those boring loan details yet again. Sprinkle in some fun things like going to see a movie to keep your mind off of the waiting. And don’t forget about your friends and family when you’re consumed with all things house. Have dinner, go to a trampoline park. And get lots of sleep and eat food your body will thank you for.
Those are the biggest things I learned while we were buying our house – I hope it helps you as you embark on this exciting (see #2 and then laugh a little) journey!