All our friends and family members own a home. Why shouldn’t we? After a two years of renting, and investing in someone else´s property, maybe it is time to buy and put down some roots. We heard that is is a buyer´s market. So we decided the time was right to own a home.. Here are some of the steps we took and challenges we faced.
We were pre-approved for a home loan. I talked to two different banks and was able to find out what they could offer. I found that the rates were very competitive.
We Listed our Non-negotiables. We decided how much we were willing to spend , the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms we absolutely needed to have, the minimum square footage we were willing to living in and the amount of street traffic we were willing to put up with.
We Found a Realtor.
We Found our Search Zone. I used the local school district’s school zoning maps for guidance and identified our PRIME SEARCH ZONE according to the public schools we would be willing to send our kids to if the need arose to do so.
We Searched Online. The three sites I used were:
- Zillow.com has the option to search For Sale by Owner (FBO) and For Sale by Agent properties.
- Realtor.com This site was helpful to show when a house was under contract. FBO properties were not listed on this site.
- Homesnap.com, was the online site my realtor used.
We Showed up & House Shopped as a Family. Our realtor organized the route and called the house for sale agents to set up house showing appointments. Our kids loved it, but could not handle more than four showings a morning.
We made our first offer. We stumbled upon a house that was $25K above our budget through a FSBO sign in our search zone. We made our first offer. It was countered and we did not accept the counter. By then, we were having second thoughts. It was still winter and we knew more houses would come up for sale in the spring.
We Searched Some more. A house that we really liked (almost $50K above our budget) in a more conveniently located neighborhood had come back on the market after a contract had fallen through. We made our offer but it was not even considered.
So we looked at a house in the neighborhood we currently rent in. It had one less bedroom than we needed, but lots of potential for adding on. Besides that, the price was about $50K below our budget. We began to dream-up what we would do with all that extra money we would not have to spend. So that same evening, we told our realtor to submit our offer. But the owners had just accepted an offer from another buyer.
We took two weeks off. By then, we were exhausted and disappointed.
We Searched Some more. Because of our previous experience, we knew to quickly submit an offer if we found a house we liked, close to our budget, in the area we wanted.
And as soon as a house came up for sale in one of the neighborhoods we liked, we went to look at it. It had the right amount of rooms, it was below our budget but over-priced (for us) for being in such bad shape. Yet, we wasted no time and made an offer. The offer was countered, which was to be expected by now. We had second thoughts. Once again, we were both sensing that the time was not right to buy a house. So…
We Took Some More Time Off. The season of Lent had just begun. We decided to wait, again, this time for a longer period of time (about 40 days) focused more specifically on seeking God’s guidance and not just our own assumptions.
What has your house shopping journey been like? How and why did you decide to buy?
To be continued…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.