is stressful. there are big words and strange phrases and HOAs and weird clauses that you have never heard of before. even if you watch hgtv (they glamor it up on those shows, fyi). i've been meaning to do this post for a LONG time, and list some things we learned in the process. so here goes...
number 1: get a good agent
thankfully one of my friends, Jennifer Bechthold, is a realtor. not only is she someone that i know and trust, i also know she has amazing work ethic (she kicked my trash when we worked at the forest service together!) and always has other peoples best interests at heart. she [literally, at times] held our hands through the entire process. the patience she had with us was amazing, and i'm not exactly sure how she put up with us. sometimes i would just text her at random hours and be like "so wait...will you please explain again how earnest money works?" or some similar question. she was so knowledgeable about everything i would ask her, even if it was to explain some crazy stipulation or line in a paper i was signing. it was extraordinary. i mean, i knew she was a smarty-pants, but this lady really knows her stuff. i don't think we could have bought a house without her, and i mean that honestly. she wasn't pushy at all, but she gave us extra opportunities and put in a lot of extra time to help us out. she's the one who found the winning house, so really we owe her a lot. i could go on and on about how fabulous Jen is, and if you would like to know more just ask me, and also check out her website. i think your realtor is a huge factor in having a good experience buying a house, and we really lucked out having Jen on our team!
number 2: keep your options open
when we first started looking for a house we had a certain image in mind. also, a certain price range, and a certain location. i do not always recommend this... obviously you can have qualities in a house that you favor or are looking for, the general location, your realistic price range, etc. BUT you also need to be willing to get outside the box every once in a while. we hadnt even found the house we now live in because it was listed at just a few thousand over our price range. it was our bomb.com realtor, jen, who found it and asked if we wanted to check it out. BAM, fell in love, the house was perfect. and now its ours!
number 3: dont focus on the fixtures
...or the paint colors, or the wood stain, or the weird blinds, etc. i see this all the time on hgtv, when people are buying their first home and are turned off by a place because the paint colors are all wrong. you can change things! you have to look at a house as if its a blank canvas that you are allowed to change to your liking. i have to admit, i was a little guilty of this phenomenon, but jen was always really good at reminding me that we could change stuff. and it makes all the difference. for example, i did not like the lighter colored wood in this house that was over the fireplace and on the banister. that was about a $10 fix. and now i love it.
number 4: save your money like crazy people
buying a house is expensive. not just because of the mortgage. theres the down payment (ew), earnest money, closing costs, and home inspection [just to name a few costs]. and thats all just before you move in. then you have the moving costs, you might have to take some time off to pack/move/whaturr, then you might need some appliances (or in our case: a fridge, washer and dryer, and above range microwave). also, if you are moving from a smaller place (ie apartment), you suddenly have a lot more room to put things in. so you might need some new furniture. you want to buy paint. you have to pay someone to mow the lawn, or buy a lawnmower, or get a hand-me-down lawnmower and be proactive enough to actually use it. it's sort of like that book "if you give a mouse a cookie". a lot of stuff goes on that you may not have thought about before moving. and you're gonna need some extra cash. so be smart and save like tightwads!! it will be worth it :)
number 5: don't get frustrated
we had some interesting loan-related matters come up, which delayed our move-in date and really threw us for a loop. buying a house is not always a super simple process. you may not know the exact date you're going to close on your house until a week (or less) before. or maybe something ends up costing more money than you thought. or maybe something falls through. i've heard a lot of stories, and it really all just boils down to going with the flow and keeping your head up. don't get frustrated, because there will be a solution. you might have to search for it, but there are tons of people and resources out there to help you.
i feel like there are a lot of other things we learned along the way, but these are some of the more important ones. if i remember more later, maybe i'll make some sort of series out of it. i hope this information can help someone out. but know that if us two dummies can do it, so can you ;)