What I Didn’t Expect with Buying a House

My husband and I have been working toward buying our first home for quite some time now, and let me tell you, it has not been an easy journey. From credit qualifications to saving money, we have struggled through every moment.

Now, as we settle into our little abode in the sleepy old mill town of Kannapolis, North Carolina — yes, the birthplace of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt — I am thankful for a sense of relief and to be on the other side of this hurdle.

Two years ago, I didn’t think we would ever be homeowners, but here we are.

When we finally got our mortgage pre-approval in March, I thought I knew what to expect with how the rest of the home buying process would work. I had done research, asked questions … I was prepared.

I was also wrong.

There was plenty I didn’t know and much that I learned along the way.

Here’s the list of stuff I kinda figured out {with the help of our amazing mortgage team and our wonderful realtor} during this entire process:

Getting a mortgage is extremely invasive.

I was not prepared for how exposed I would feel.

As I was gathering all of our documents (bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc.) to submit for our mortgage pre-approval, I honest-to-God thought to myself, “I do not want to do this anymore. Why do they need all this? What are they going to do with it? What will they ask for next, my firstborn?”

I got so concerned at one point while looking back through our bank statements that I convinced myself we would be denied a mortgage because we spend too much on food.

I have got to stop telling myself to treat myself … especially when it comes to tacos.

Furthermore, just when I thought we were done submitting documents to the mortgage company, our loan officer would email and ask for even more.

Fact: You are never truly done.

NewHomeownersThis is real life, y’all. We’re hot, tired, and sweaty, but we are {almost} completely moved in. And if you can’t tell by the smiles on our faces, we could not be more excited to be homeowners.

Putting in an offer doesn’t mean you’ll get the house.

The house we bought was actually the third (almost fourth) house we submitted an offer on.

Third time’s a charm, right?

People think too much of their homes.

One of the homes we looked at was decent (not perfect), but listed toward the top of the price range we wanted to stick with.

Looking back on it, I hate that house and should have spoken up at the time. However — for whatever reason — my husband LOVED it. He was convinced it was the one for us, and that is something I am still trying to wrap my head around.

We planned to submit an offer on it, but when our realtor pulled comps, this home was priced nowhere near what other homes in the neighborhood sold for in the previous six months. Like, they were listing this smelly old house with piss-poor DIY craftsmanship at about $25,000 more than the comps.

Thanks, but no thanks, and get over yourselves with that ridiculous price tag. Your house isn’t as nice as you think it is, and it smells like wet dog.

Multi-offer situations suck and you’re most likely going to pay above the asking price.

The very first house we put in an offer on had around 10 other offers in on it. Let me be clear,  there is a negative percent chance you will get the home in that situation because what’s going to happen is the homeowners and their realtor are going to stop accepting offers at a certain point, review what they have, and select the highest and best offer from the group.

If your offer isn’t the best one, you’re not getting the home.

By the time we put in an offer on the home we got, we were pretty knowledgeable of how the game works. Therefore, based on the neighborhood comps, we were comfortable with the offer we submitted ($3,000 over the asking price). Also, because there weren’t any additional offers on the home when we submitted ours, we were fairly confident that we would get it.

Waiting for the results of the home inspection and appraisal is nerve wrenching.

To piggy-back on the whole going-above-the-asking-price thing, you can offer more than the asking price to help ensure it is accepted. However, if the sellers accept your offer, the house still has to go through the appraisal process, and if it appraises for less than your offer, you might be SOL.

Don’t forget about the home inspection, either. If that reveals any major issues, it could be a deal breaker.

Fortunately for us, it all worked out. Not everyone gets that lucky, though.

Going into someone’s home is weird and people are gross.

Like I mentioned above about the house that smelled bad, people might not have the same level of cleanliness that you do and going into their home can be disgusting.

Seriously, if you are trying to unload your house on someone else, you should probably dust your mantel and mop your floors before a showing.

Plus, walking through a stranger’s house without them there and opening their closets, turning on their faucets, looking in their cabinets, and inspecting their carpet is

Due diligence & earnest money, appraisal, inspection & survey costs — WTF?

wolf of wall street money GIF-source.gif

Go ahead. Take all my money.

Everyone tells you to start saving for a down payment as soon as you can if you want to buy a house.

What they fail to mention is all the upfront costs that come with your purchase.

After our offer was accepted and we were officially under contract, a friend who recently bought her first home told me to expect to shell out $500 a week every week until closing … and she wasn’t wrong.

But for what? Do I really need to know if my home has radon in it? YOLO.

You might have to take a risk to get what you want.

We did something pretty risky, and I’m glad we didn’t get burned by it. I’m also glad it didn’t work out.

Because the real estate market is extremely aggressive right now in our area, we took a risk and put in an offer on a house before we were able to see the inside of it in person.

The house was cute and would have been an acceptable first home, but if our offer had gone through, we would have missed out on getting a house that we truly love.

Things move slow and then SUPER fast and then slow again.

There is a lot of hurry up and wait in the weeks between submitting an offer and closing.

Once we got our pre-approval and officially started looking at homes, it felt like we were moving slower than Christmas. In hindsight, we were only shopping for three weeks before we found our house, but it felt so much longer.

And waiting to find out if our offer had been accepted was daunting.

After it was accepted, though, our timeline moved at hyper speed. I kept my email pulled up at all times to make sure I could respond as quickly as possible when our loan officer or real estate agent requested something.

Shopping for a home is nothing like you see on “House Hunters.”

Now that we’re done, I can confidently say that the only thing I relate to from “House Hunters” is the stupid sh*t people critique when they’re looking at a home. You know … wall color, appliances, countertops … things folks can change/customize on their own.

Well, I sh*t you not, my husband complained about the lightbulbs … THE LIGHTBULBS … the entire time we were looking at the house we bought.

I watch a lot of HGTV and have heard people complain about some dumb stuff, but my husband’s critique of the LIGHTBULBS in this house is more absurd than anything I have ever listened to on any HGTV show … and I once heard a man say, “I want something more move-in ready” on “Fixer Upper.” COME ON, MAN.

Everyone you know will offer unsolicited advice.

You do you, boo boo.

But really, do what’s best for you when you’re buying your first home. We had so many people tell us what they wished we would buy and do and then offer advice that, quite frankly, we didn’t want. Their idea of what was right for us was not at all what we wanted for ourselves for our first house.

To be honest, we bought a home that is well below our means. Becoming homeowners was a top priority for us this year, but we have other financial and life/personal goals we hope to achieve over the next few years. Therefore, it was most important to us to spend less on a house at this particular time. This is not our forever home, just our we-need-a-place-to-live-and-are-tired-of-renting home.

You will feel it in your gut when it’s right.

I gauged how much I truly liked a home by this simple notion: If we submit an offer on it and it’s accepted, I actually will be upset and not excited.

It wasn’t until we found the house we ended up buying that I was truly thrilled to put in an offer and nervous that it wouldn’t be accepted. As we waited all day to find out if our offer was accepted, I was incredibly anxious — more than usual — because I wanted that house so badly.

That feeling of desperation for this house was how I knew it was the one.

If you’re looking for your first home, I hope my list here provides you with a little more insight (and laughs) to help you along your journey. Like I said before, I honestly thought we would never own a home, but here we are, and it feels amazing to see all of our hard work pay off.

Was all the headache worth it? Hell. Yes.

Dammit, Hali



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