Adventures in House Hunting: 5 tips for starting the house search

Now that we are about to close on our house (Spoiler alert: We bought one!), I figured I should move on to the next post in my adventures in house hunting series. I talked about the importance of finding a great realtor, and now I want to share our wish list.

House  Need Want Perks
A peek at our Need/Want/Perks list

When we got serious about house hunting, Steve and I created a list of must-have, wants, and perks. We tried to be realistic about what we would be able to get within our price range. For us, must-haves included things like a dishwasher, more than one bathroom, some kind of outdoor space, etc. Parking went on the want list and then things that were perks were exposed brick, a deck, and other niceties.

Around the same time, we met with a mortgage lender who came recommended from our realtor. We loved that he is also located in our neighborhood and is associated with Wells Fargo, our bank. Jeff took the time to walk us through the process and help us with the pre-approval. He was great at making us feel a little more calm when he told us the huge, gigantic, intimidating amount that we would need initially to buy a house. While we were pre-approved for WAY more than we wanted to spend, Jeff didn’t try to push us to take out a larger loan. (It’s easy to see how people fall into the trap of borrowing more.)

Shout-out to Jeff at Prosperty Mortgage!
Shout-out to Jeff at Prosperity Mortgage!

Here are my 5 tips for starting your house search:

  1. Find a mortgage broker or lender who takes the time to answer any questions and thoroughly walk you through the home-buying process. Don’t be afraid to find someone else if you don’t feel like they are helping you. (One person who I contacted to a week to get back to me. WAY too long, in my patience book.)
  2. Be realistic with your must-have list. We knew that parking may not be an option in the neighborhoods where we were looking. While we certainly hoped to get a parking pad, we put it on our want list because we knew that it may not happen.
  3. Define your list without being too rigid.  It’s easy to say that you must have outdoor space, but what does that mean to you?  Are you okay with just having space to put a grill, or do you plan to have a lot of people over and want room for a table? Do you need grass? (No thanks, we say.)
  4. Be flexible in general. That seems obvious, but once we started looking at homes and realized that we were going to have to give something up, our wants, needs, and perks quickly changed. To stay within our price range, we realized that we may have to move some needs to wants—but maybe gain some perks in exchange.
  5. Pick a budget and stick with it. Unless you truly have the flexibility to pay more, don’t look at homes too far outside of your price range. When you run the numbers with your mortgage lender, it may break your heart to find out how much a house will cost you month to month. (That post in coming up.)

Do you have any tips for creating a buying list or working with a mortgage lender? Is there anything you wish you had known during your
home-buying process?

2 Replies to “Adventures in House Hunting: 5 tips for starting the house search”

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