Many of you know that we’re in the process of buying our second home, and are prepping to close in about a month. While both experiences have been so vastly different, especially because this time we’re buying from a builder, I wanted to share some tips that helped us during the process because there are a lot of similarities in home buying, regardless of where you buy or whether it’s new, totally renovated or an older home.
- Start saving, as early as you can. When we started talking about buying a home, we knew it was something we both wanted to do in the next few years, but also knew how incredibly expensive it could be. So, we started saving for a future home right away, even if it was just a little bit every month. You can never have too much stored away for when you do want to buy something, and you’ll be surprised how quickly things tend to add up.
- Make sure you like and trust your realtor. They’re about to become your best friend. It’s funny…when you start getting super serious about buying, suddenly you are spending all hours with your realtor (before work, after work, weekends…you name it!), talking to them about everything you want in your life, your priorities, where you see your life going, and so on. Oh, and don’t be surprised if this group chat temporarily becomes more poppin’ than your bestie group chat. We’ve been very fortunate with our realtors and have built great relationships with both, and in San Diego, it was especially important because we didn’t know the area as well as we did in Seattle. This person will become a very important part of your journey so don’t be afraid to shop around and meet a couple different realtors until you find the one.
- Get pre-approved. Both homes we purchased were in highly competitive markets, and getting pre-approved for a loan actually saved us from losing out on the homes that we wanted. It isn’t uncommon for multiple people to bid on the same house, so this will not only help you understand what you can comfortably afford, but it will also help make the process go more smoothly once you do get your offer accepted.
- Make a list of things you want, and then rank them. It’s pretty rare that your dream home exists in your price range in the exact area you want to buy in, so naturally, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. For us, that meant new. new. new. with both homes was at the top of our list. We loved the idea of customizing and did talk about buying something older and renovating, but at our core, we knew that it wasn’t something we had the time or patience to do while we lived in the same house. In Seattle, that meant sacrificing on space (although don’t get me wrong, it was just the right size for us at the time and in the perfect location) and in San Diego, that means living in North County and commuting a bit farther for work because space is more important to us now. If you’re buying with someone else, make sure you’re on the same page about what that entails because you both will be living with it!
- Be patient and trust your gut. The process is emotional, especially when you fall in love with a house and don’t get it, it’s time consuming and so much goes into it, but it’s also so incredibly exciting and rewarding. Don’t force anything, just be patient, move quickly when you need to and accept the times that you don’t, and trust your gut. I knew the moment we stepped into both homes that those were meant to be ours. Especially with our first house though, it was a huge step, we were the first of our friends to buy a house and at only 22 years old, you don’t know if you’re making too big of a “big kid decision.” At the end of the day, we knew it was the right decision for us and jumped in headfirst. Boy, am I glad we did! Never overestimate the power of your gut in these types of situations.