I am buying a house.
I have been a dedicated renter all of my adult life. I love renting, the idea of calling someone else to fix something you broke is amazing. Not having to maintain a yard, is truly bliss.
I rented my first apartment when I moved out of my Mothers house at the age of twenty. It was a two bedroom and one bathroom apartment that I shared with my younger sister. We have some amazing memories from that apartment. From that apartment to the next I continued to rent over the next 13 years of my adult life. It wasn’t until my most recent apartment, that I even considered purchasing my own home. My landlord upset me when they sent me a letter saying they would be increasing my rent for my 650 square foot one bedroom/one bathroom apartment. I was already paying too much for the one bedroom, I choked it up to location. I would not be suckered in to paying an additional $50 for an apartment that didn’t include a washer and dryer. So I decided to do what I should have done when I was in my twenties. I called a lender, got pre-approved and contacted a Realtor.
As of writing this post, I am still living in my 650 sq, ft. apartment.
The last few weeks of house hunting have taught me some pretty valuable life lessons. These are ones that I felt I had to share.
- Before you start looking for something, have some sort of idea as to what you are looking for. When I met my Realtor one of the first questions she asked was, what type of home was I looking to purchase? It took me three weeks to answer that question. I was only able to answer it after I had put in an offer on two homes that I did not love at all. Thankfully those two sellers did not accept my offer. I really had to have a sit down with myself one evening, over a glass of red wine, and figure out exactly what I was looking for. Did I need a garage? Did I want a yard? Is that third bedroom that important to me? After a night of diligent thinking I was able to confidently tell my Realtor exactly what I was looking for in a home. Now, when we look at properties, I am no longer wasting my time or hers, looking at something I will never love.
- It is a good idea to save, but never put your money somewhere that you can’t get to it. Prior to contacting my Realtor, I did what all the ads told me to do. I contacted a lender to see how much I would be pre-approved for. Thankfully, I have always managed my money well. I have little to no debt and I don’t have any real bills. I received my pre-approval letter and because my Lender is awesome he recommended I speak with a financial advisor; just to make sure that I was financially ready to own a home. I called my Credit Union and was put in contact with an Financial Advisor. After a two hour conversation with Andrew, I realized that although I don’t have debt and my bills are manageable, I have not been setting myself up for success when it comes to my savings. I do have savings, but not liquid savings. In other words, all of my extra money is tied up in a 401k or TSP account. In the case of an emergency it would take 3-10 business days for me to receive emergency money, and I may have to pay a penalty for withdrawing early. When it came to savings, my main concern had always been retirement. Home emergencies, such as the air conditioner of my new home going out and having to pay out of pocket to get it fixed, has never been a concern for me. I would always just call the Landlord. Now that I have to consider those home emergencies that may pop up, a portion of my savings must now be easily reachable.
- If someone doesn’t accept your offer, don’t worry, another home will be on the market tomorrow. As stated previously, I have sent in two offers on two gorgeous homes. Although, these homes were not exactly what I was looking for, they were magazine worthy homes. When I got my first rejection for my first offer, I was heartbroken. Was my offer not good enough? Maybe I should have offered more? I really had too, once again, sit myself down and regroup. I had to realize that if the offer I submitted was not accepted, it was because that house was not for me. When I find my new home, there will be nothing to stand in between me and my move in date. In other words, what God has for me is definitely for me. When my second offer on the second home was shot down, I didn’t even flinch. I went back to the drawing board with my Realtor, and we continued the search for my new home.
- Be at peace with were you are. As I sit here writing this post, I realize that I’m no longer anxious. When I first made the decision to purchase a home, I immediately started planning my timeline. I needed to find a Lender, I needed to get pre-approved, I needed to find a Realtor, I needed to find a home by this date, I needed to close by this date, I needed to have the movers by this date, I needed to be moved in by this date. Everything was planned out, and when I started missing those planned dates, I became frustrated and anxious. I needed to find a home! I needed to move! So many needs that I put everything else in my life on the back burner and only focused on finding a home. I would go to work, during my lunch break meet with my Realtor, go back to work, and once I was off meet back up with my Realtor. Why? I have no idea. I still have four months left on my lease, and even then I have the option to do month to month. I am truly blessed to be able to say I am at peace right now. I know that if I don’t find a home before my lease ends, that God has already blessed me by making it possible for me to afford a month to month lease. Do I want to pay month to month? Of course not, but if it comes to that, I am able to do it. I don’t need to stress or worry and I am able to enjoy my first home buying experience.
- The first step to accepting help is to become vulnerable. When I met my Realtor, I immediately liked her. She is one of those people that is easy to talk to and she knows how to read minds. I think mind reading is definitely a trait that all Realtors must have. If I walk into a home, she immediately can tell by my reaction if I love the home or hate it. In order for us to have the type of relationship, where she is comfortable enough to read my reaction, I had to become vulnerable around her. I have a defense mechanism. When I am uncomfortable or nervous, I smile. If I don’t like something, I may tell a little white lie. For example, we walked into a property that had a very “distinct” smell, they had mirrors on the wall, hardly any windows, carpet throughout and one of the smallest bathrooms I have ever seen. When my Realtor asked me how I felt about the property. I smiled and said its ok. Then I immediately told her all the things I liked about it. She looked at me and said “No, tell me what you hate about it”. I smiled and said its ok. She literally would not give up, until I told her exactly what I hated about that house. In order for her to do her job effectively, I had to make myself vulnerable. This may seem small to some, but to me it was huge. I felt like I was nagging about the house. As if, I didn’t have the right to say I hated that house. Honestly, if it would have been any other Realtor, I probably would have put an offer in on that house, and prayed it got declined. Going forward I became more honest with her about how I truly felt about a property. Now I can walk into a home, tell her how I feel and we can be in and out in less than five minutes.
This is not an all inclusive list of what I have learned while house hunting. Each day that I go out looking at properties, my mind is open, and I am learning something new about myself and the home buying process.
Another example, I learned that I love hummingbirds. That may come as a shock to those of you that know me personally. When I walked out of a property, this hummingbird flew right up to me and just hovered in front of me for a second before flying off. I wanted so badly to chase after it, not run from it. It was then that I realized, I am always learning something new about myself. Each day I am a different person. As I continue to look for the perfect home for me, I am sure that I will learn even more about myself. I can truly say that “I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy getting to know the Tonia that is me”.