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Lesson Four: Inner Beauty

15 Mar

When I saw this print on Etsy, immediately I thought that this was the story of our house.

Source: Etsy

When we decided to put an offer on our house, it wasn’t an “OMG this our home!” moment that you too often see on HGTV.  No it was more like… Should we do this?  Are we going to regret this decision?  Can we really afford this?  Will we be able to get rid of all that pink?

And most importantly…will this negatively impact my shoe purchasing habit???

The house was not conventionally “beautiful” as you saw in some of the before pictures.  It screamed “old lady from the 1970’s” with the pink carpeting and flower wallpaper, an abundance of statues, and bold colored bathrooms.  Oh, and did I mention there was no dishwasher?

But what drew us in were the things that no amount of money or hard work could change, and was the location, the size of the land and rooms, and the really good price.   Another driving factor was something that Tony really helped me see and that was that the house had good bones.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of a house, but at the end of the day, a solid home is a reliable home… and that is a happy and worry free home 🙂

So today’s home buying lesson (see previous lessons 1, 2 & 3) is a simple one, but something that is so easily overlooked…. And that is to focus on some of the “not fun” things during your search like the foundation, maintenance needs, and general structure of the house.  Because once the house is yours (and that feels pretty damn good, let me tell you) the inside stuff can be changed to become the beautiful space you want. 

It’s amazing what a little TLC can do to transform a place, and sometimes the love (and sweat and tears) that go into the transformation make it all that more beautiful in the end.

Aaaaand sappy post concludes 😉

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Lessons Three: Hello Emo

22 Feb

What I am about to say is absolutely impossible to fully achieve, so just putting that out there.

Ready?

Try not to get emotionally attached to the houses!

Ha!  Yeah right.  I went into the process stone cold, ready for anything, and after our first offer was rejected I became a cynical emotional wreck.
Hi there, wanna hang out???

But one thing that really worked for us, after a little bit of trial and error, was turning the search process into something that was as objective as possible.

Enter the Excel Spreadsheet.  

We actually used Google docs for this because it’s an easy way to share (and we are tech nerds), but any spreadsheet will work.
Here’s all you gotta do:

1. In Row #1: Enter house detail category words (price, location, cost, square footage, etc…)  Pretty much anything that might make or break your decision.

2. In Row #2: Fill in the details with your “must haves”.
If you are buying with someone else, make SURE you are both on the same page here!!!  If not, back up, try again.

3. In the remaining rows, enter the details for all of the houses you visit.  No cheating.

4. Highlight anything that doesn’t meet the criteria in Row #2 in red.

5. TRY AND WALK AWAY FROM THE RED HOUSES!!!

Example:

This may seem silly, but it really allows you to look at the houses you visit objectively and logically… a.k.a. without all of the emotion that you may want to attach to them.   It also helps you remember all those little details, because after a while, all the houses blur together!  If you can, add a picture to the list!

Also be strict with your criteria.  The longer you look, the easier it is to “bend” a little with your needs.  Yes, the walk in closet is soooo dreamy…. But trust me, a 500 sq/ft 1 bed house with bad roof is not “doable” no matter how many shoes it will fit. Do not ignore the red in the spreadsheet!

Ultimately if you’re not in a super rush to find a place, it’s worth the wait to find the place that suits you best.  There is no perfect home, but there are a lot of really great ones out there ready for you to make your own.

Lesson Two: The Search is On

20 Feb

Now that you’ve decided the time is right to start looking to buy (see previous post for more info), the next thing to decide is how are you going to actually find that house of yours?

Based on friends’ recommendations, we decided to use Redfin, which is kind of like an online real estate company, with lot’s of cool perks.  Here are a few reasons Redfin stands apart, and why we chose to use them…

“Redfin is a company of real estate agents and software engineers working together to change the real estate game in your favor.”

  • Their website is fantastic!  They use map based searching so you can really narrow it down to “where” you want to be.  They also provide detailed information about the process, and a record of the houses you’ve visited, and put offers on.  After we put an offer on our house, there was a checklist with dates on the website that allowed us to take all of the proper steps (and trust me, there are a lot) to getting things finalized.  Super helpful!
  • You can set very detailed email alerts so that you never miss a house that goes on the market and fits your criteria.  And each listing comes with more data than you know what to do with.  Photos, specs, trends, schools, neighborhood, nearby homes for sale, nearby homes that were sold (with prices) and more….
  • The agents do NOT work on commission, but rather get their bonuses based on customer satisfaction, so they truly want what’s best for you!!!   We never felt pressured to buy, and our agent was available around the clock.  (Shout out to Sandy Rosen, We miss you!!!!)
  • And maybe the best part about Redfin… They split the commission check with you!!  So after you’ve woken from the sticker shock induced coma at your closing, you get a nice fat check in the mail, to go spend on new blinds, refrigerator, ramen noodles, whatever….

I give Redfin a HUGE recommendation!  Of course, there are some fantastic Real Estate Agencies out there, so it’s great to shop around, but for someone who loves technology and is obsessed with looking at houses online, Redfin was perfect for me!

Lessons in Real Estate

17 Feb

People say that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you will go through in your life.  I heard this a million times before, during and after we went through the home buying process, and I am here (still standing and only a little bruised) to offer my two sense on the matter.

Disclaimer… While I believe that my experience was fairly “typical”, buying a house is an extremely personal experience, with so many variables tied to your own unique situation that come into play.  I hope to offer some advice on how to stay sane, how to research, and how to make this as fun as possible, but please understand that I can only speak from my own experience.

So with that… Let’s begin!

Part 1: Timing is everything!

Big shocker here… This is probably the biggest purchase you have made so far in your life…times about 700%…so before you even begin “just looking” make sure you’re ready!  Tony and I had talked about buying a house for a while, but between finishing grad school and planning a wedding, the timing hadn’t been quite right.  However once we were ready, we jumped in with full force, and in a matter of just a few months we were home owners!   So if you’re anything like me, once you start getting into something, it’s really hard to just back off.  Even after your first open house, no matter how small and run down the place is, you start thinking about how your furniture might fit, where you’ll host Thanksgiving dinner, and how your non-existent kids will walk to school.  That’s normal, right?  Right??? 🙂

So in order to determine if this is the right time for you, here are some things to consider:

1. Do you and/or a partner have a stable job with a steady income?
2.  Are you ready and willing to stay put for an extended period of time?
3. Have you been able to build up a savings account?
4. How’s that credit card debt from your shopping habit treatin’ ya?
5. A pipe is leaking… Are you freaking out???

So after you’ve sold your Uggs and coach purses to build up your savings, feel confident that you have enough “padding” to cover a mortgage for 3 months should your company go bankrupt, watched 100 YouTube videos on Home Repair for Dummies, and decided that living in Anytown USA for the next 5-10 years is ok because there are 2 Starbucks within walking distance… Maybe it’s time to jump on the home buying bandwagon!

Coming up next…
Part 2: The Search in ON!

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