5 tips for buying a house

A few weeks ago, I posted some “hindsight is 20/20” tips for listing your home for sale.

Selling felt a little frustrating for us.  But those emotions came more from the timeframe we had to head back east (which we set ourselves, so the “under the gun” feeling came very much from my own procrastination, let’s be real 😂), and the fact that our buyers weren’t able to close until a good month after we moved out.  It was nerve-wracking to just leave a house with the heat set at 50 degrees in Wisconsin and hope for the best.  So, when I say it was “frustrating,” I think what I mean is, I wish it had been a little speedier.

Our closing date was pushed up six days in the end, which was awesome news!  From January 18th to the 12th. AND THEN ON THE 13TH THE FURNACE CRAPPED OUT.  Don’t misunderstand me, I feel horrible that this happened, especially since it had (thankfully) worked fine for the month that we were gone, which kept our pipes from freezing.  But holy FS you guys, you can bet your buns I was throwing up a pretty heartfelt thank you to sweet baby Jesus that both a. our closing was moved forward at the last minute, and b. the buyers’ realtor had also checked on the heat personally the day before and confirmed that it was working. 🙏  Still though, we felt awful that the first taste of homeownership this couple received was a big ol’ spoonful of “sh*t happens.”  But at the same time, I’m not sure I’ve felt relief like that since we found out Glenn wasn’t actually killed that time on The Walking Dead.

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Welp, every rose has its thorns. 👉 Let’s talk buying!

Download the Realtor.com* or Zillow* app. Or both!

I already had a tendency to spend about as much time looking at homes for sale on Realtor as I did scrolling mindlessly through my Instagram feed.  But when it was time to start considering a move back east, it really came in handy!  And it felt awesome actually being able to look for ourselves, rather than looking just for fun.  When it finally came time for us to make some appointments for showings, it was great already having a list of homes we were interested in.  Especially when you know better what you’re looking for than a realtor does.

*not an ad. I doubt Realtor.com would ever pay me to write about them. 😂

Work with a real estate agent.

This probably sounds like a no brainer.  But to be honest, up until this point, because we are real estate nerds, if we wanted to see something, we would just contact the listing agent and go through him or her.  In fact, when people would come see our house through a different agent when it was listed, I actually laughed and said, “I didn’t know people still used agents like this with all the apps and whatnot.”  Um, I was so dumb & so wrong.  Sure, we had all kinds of homes on our list.  But when we went to get in touch with the listing agent for our favorite one, I’m telling you God himself plucked our agent from Heaven and sent her to us.  She is THE BEST and we are officially people who work exclusively with one agent.  If you’re in Massachusetts or Rhode Island and are looking to buy or sell, let me hook you up, because this girl will make your life SO EASY.

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Don’t be afraid to start low.

I mean, maybe not insultingly low.  But sellers will counter, and I’d rather be talked up to my budget than over it.  People start high when listing, and they start low when buying.  Eventually you’ll both find something in the middle that you’re both comfortable with.  And if not, there are plenty of other houses.  Trust me.  I think we made a total of three unsuccessful offers before we finally landed on the winner.

Don’t be taken advantage of.

Like we were and still are.  Here’s the sitch with our particular slice of home buyer pie.  The second offer we made was on THE ONE.  The one we wanted.  The one we compared every house afterward to.  It has the view, the space, the neighborhood, the Christmas decorateability (it’s a thing) AND a price that is well within the “wrangle zone” to being decent for what you’re getting.  What it doesn’t have is a driveway or much of a yard.  And its a five-bedroom house, so those things matter if kids are filling those bedrooms.  All kinds of resale red flags were waving in my head.  Not to mention it’s a home from 1937 and looks like it hasn’t been updated since at least 1960.  We offered low.  She countered high.  We came up from our price a pretty generous amount.  She barely came down.  It became pretty clear she thinks her house is a Newport Mansion and should sell like such.  So, bye Felicia.

So we thought.  We made an offer on another home, it fell through, we looked at three more and nothing was comparing to that house.  So we ate our pride for breakfast one morning and went crawling back and accepted her counter.  The counter that we found to be super unreasonable because her closing date was THREE MONTHS AWAY.  Which would explain why we have been living in a hotel for those months.  At about $480/week, that price is looking less reasonable by the day, and I would be a little more pissed off if I wasn’t delirious with cabin fever and so dang excited to move in.

In hindsight, I think I would have pushed harder to get her to come down on the grounds that her closing date was incredibly unreasonable and it was costing us to allow her that.  It didn’t cost her a thing.  She has held the cards the whole time, and when you’re stubborn and have a control problem, it’s not the easiest pill to swallow.  But, she’s leaving us her piano.  So that’s something, I suppose.  Bottom line, sometimes your seller may need you more than you need them.  Don’t back down like we did and don’t let the listing agent try and use scare tactics, which brings me to my next tip.

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Do your research.

If we weren’t so under the gun and pressured to find something (kind of like we were pressured to sell our previous home) the fact that it had been on the market for almost 100 days by the time we offered may have been a card we were willing to gamble with.  When we came back to the listing agent to schedule a second showing, he told our realtor “oh yeah there have been a lot of showings and interest lately…”  Mhmm.  I’m sure there was. 🙄 But because we were desperate to pin something down and stop this otherwise fruitless search, we jumped and accepted the counter.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we made a mistake by any means.  I can’t wait to live there and update the place the way it should have been like two decades ago.  But do I wish we had pushed back a little and maybe were able to save a few bucks for letting this chick take her sweet time before moving out?  A little bit.

All in all, try to enjoy your home search!  It’s such a stressful process, but it definitely helps to keep your eye on the prize, and just keep looking forward to the day you move in and it’s finally yours!  Happy hunting!

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