Purchasing a home can be a roller coaster of surprises and emotions. We didn’t have a typical home buying experience the first time we bought a house and we learned a lot! Because everyone’s experience is different, we can’t prepare you for everything you may encounter. However, we can tell you 3 things that surprised us to help you prepare:
1. Things can go wrong so you need to protect yourself
Some people have a really smooth home buying experience. They find what they want, offer and close the deal quickly. While it would have been less stressful if our first offer had worked out, we know we wouldn’t be in the great situation we are in today.
You see, we first offered on a lovely townhouse, in a nice complex. The only work needed was to paint the accent wall a colour we liked. There was even a pool for the residents of the complex. We were ecstatic when our offer was accepted and eager to remove the subjects and move in! Unfortunately, we stalled at the paperwork; as in, it was wrong. Then, we had a problem with the home inspector (we’ll save that story for another post), the strata bylaws were not as presented in regards to renting, and overall it just wasn’t coming together. As such, we made the difficult decision to let the deal collapse and move on to find something else -good bye, pool 🙁
Thank goodness we protected ourselves with subjects which allowed us time to assess the deal, the townhouse and do our due diligence. Let’s be clear, we did the due diligence: not our realtor, not our mortgage broker – us (by us I mean Sean and I but also my dad and his keen eyes reviewed the paperwork). The point being, you are ultimately responsible for the property so you need to protect yourself and take the time to make sure everything is in order.
2. It takes time to find what you want but you will find something you want
The first time we went through the home buying process, we didn’t know what we wanted. We looked at apartments, townhouses, duplexes and houses. Fortunately, we had a realtor who regularly worked with first time home buyers because it required patience! She helped us hone in on what we really wanted for what we could afford. While looking, we made some tough decisions about where we wanted to live, what we wanted to live in and the lifestyle we wanted to have.
Once we decided we really wanted something with rental potential, it seemed like everyone wanted the same thing – who knew home buying could be so competitive? We offered on another 2 properties that ended up also having offers from other people. We weren’t the successful buyers of either property, so the search continued. While it was disappointing, we knew the market pretty well by this point and felt we offered fairly. As well, we both strongly felt that we would rather be disappointed in not purchasing a property than looking back and feeling disappointed we had overpaid. Start to finish, it took us over a year to find what we wanted and take possession of our house.
You want to be happy when you turn the key to your front door for the first time.
There were definitely some frustrating times on our search but we learned that there would always be something else. Looking back now, we’ve also realized that each time we offered the properties got better and better. Your home buying process might take time and that’s ok! It is a big commitment; you want to be happy when you turn the key to your front door for the first time. Eventually, we found a home that was a diamond in the rough.
3. Home buying is emotional and you can’t let emotion make your decisions
There were quite a few emotions during our home buying journey. It was hard to keep detached when we were ready to offer. We pictured ourselves living there, thought about where our stuff might go and imagined what our life would be like in the space. Add to that the fear that we might not find something as good. It was gut wrenching collapsing the townhouse deal and really disappointing when the next 2 offers didn’t work out.
It’s easy to let this sense of attachment and fear drive decisions. But like drunk dialing, it doesn’t usually lead to wise decisions. Emotions – and the competition – influence us when bidding on a property. This can result in offering on a property that isn’t right for them. Worse, they may offer more than what the property is really worth. Unlike an embarrassing drunk dial, this mistake could cost you for a long time in mortgage and interest payments, as well as regret. Fortunately, when you understand that this can happen, you can take precautions against making a costly, emotional mistake.
Our realtor was helpful in finding comparable properties that had sold. By the time we bought, we also had a good idea of what properties were worth from tracking the sold prices during time we were looking. This allowed us to make an offer we felt was fair and that we were comfortable with. Eventually, we learned that there would always be something else for us and we could offer without being as emotionally attached. For more helpful hints, check out fellow local blogger, Jannine’s post at Happy Stylish Fit.
Home buying is an exciting time that can be frustrating when you don’t know what to expect. By being patient, and not letting emotion rule your decisions, you are taking the first steps to protecting yourself throughout the home buying process. You will find something that is just right for you and your situation.
We wish you happy house hunting!
What are you most looking forward to and most dreading about your house hunt? Let us know in the comments below.
-Denise and Sean
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