Buying a house is a long, stressful process that could end up with keys in your hands or realizing that you simply can’t do it or it’s not really the right time. Once you’ve gotten to the point where you think you’re ready, it’s time to find that house! I just officially bought my first house. Yep, I’m a home owner (how terrifying is that)! The house is going to need a lot of work, and I hope to remember to update things here as we go along, but let’s start off with finding the house.
I live in a smallish town (pop. 47k) where housing is in high demand and short supply due to massive economic growth the past five years. Despite that, there are houses on the market (generally between 150-190 at any given time) but they range in price from $90k-$500k. Keeping in mind my budget, that narrowed down the field quite a bit.
I’d looked online. In fact, I’d been looking online for many months before I decided I was ready to buy a house. I had a decent idea of what my price range would be, and I got pre-qualified before starting to look. So when the time came, I called up a realtor I already knew through my job and we went hunting.
If you watch a lot of HGTV like I do, you know that people often have way too high of expectations. They want everything on a budget that’s way too small. I already knew I wasn’t going to find a perfect house in my town, in my budget, so I focused on what I knew I needed/wanted in a house. For me, those requirements included a garage (or if not a garage, a carport – we get lots of golf-ball sized hail here frequently), a shed in the backyard, a safe neighborhood, and at least 1.5 bathrooms. Wish list was a pantry but I might have been searching for a needle in a haystack with that one.
New construction had all that I wanted but was outside the budget. Plus, my town has a lot of older, well-established neighborhoods with large trees, green lawns, and brick houses which I like. So my realtor took me to see all the houses (yes, all of them. I wanted to see everything). Because housing is in such a demand here, many sellers don’t feel the need to “sell” their houses at all. That means no cleaning, staging, updating. They leave the houses as-is and expect someone will buy them. Which they will. But it makes looking difficult because you have to look past all the gross, dirty houses to see what something could be.
We saw houses with flooring put in wrong, a creepy serial killer-esque house with a dark maze of back rooms and a horrifically loud pitbull next door, a house with all the windows painted shut, a house with carpet in every room, including bathrooms and kitchen, and painted all in pink,
many houses with closed in garages, converted into step-down bedrooms. The best part of any of these houses were the sheds in the back yard, which isn’t saying much.
After all those houses, you start to think you’re never going to find anything even remotely decent. I would have settled for something not with a terribly awkward layout or correctly installed floors. My new house was the first house we saw on the second day of looking. I walked in and it was open to the living room, dining, kitchen. The laundry room is as big as a bedroom (I seriously don’t know what I’m going to do with that much space). After all the terrible houses, this house was a miracle.
I looked at other houses after the one I bought. I saw better ones but they were smaller, needed similar amounts of work, or I just didn’t get that feeling that this was my house, so we went back to the first.
It’s an older house, built in the 60s and probably never updated since then except to retrofit a rolling dishwasher that conveniently blocks one of the doors to the backyard. It needs a coat of paint, new carpet, and a deep scrub before it’ll be fit to live in. Then the real work begins (bathrooms, kitchen, the backyard). I already have a list 20 items deep of things to do before we get to the kitchen/bathrooms.
The buying process was long and at times stressful (the sewer pipes in the back yard needed to be replaced, a $3000 job; they’d shifted up so much the plumbers couldn’t even get a camera in it to see if there were tree roots – the original reason I had them inspected). But I made it through. Keys are in hand and now the work begins.
I’m a little bit scared. It’s my first house and I don’t have tons of money to fix things up, so it’s going to take a lot of work and planning. I intend to post updates here (if I remember!) so we can go through the journey together. Hah, here we go!