I should be so excited … and I am. It’s a chance for my family and me to finally have the space we need to be safe and comfortable. We will have something to call our own. I can paint the walls, hang pictures, and have a reasonable amount of guests over without the landlord going crazy.
So far, we’ve been on a hunt for two weeks. We saw 6 homes, put an offer in on one, lost that one, then saw an even better home. It’s currently under contract with us, but who knows what will happen between now and our closing date.
Needless to say, I have been on an emotional roller coaster. My husband tries to calm me; it’s so sweet. But I can’t help but place the furniture in my head and plan the kids’ future birthday parties in the yard. The past few days helped me put things into perspective: what will be for us, will be. God’s provision has always proven best. So, I’m thankful for the short journey thus far.
There are a lot of things that have helped me along from other blogs, friends, family. You have likely heard all of these things. Here is the perspective from someone deep in the trenches. This is not by any means an exhaustive list; but consider these things as some of what I thought was crucial to get us started. Here are a few tips for shopping for your first family home.
Talk to Your Partner
Before the decision to buy a home, I made the mistake of planning what I wanted alone. I even made some moves by myself. It takes a while for me to compromise and stop fighting the powers that be! I realized that marriage really is about working together and not about one person making all the decisions without input. At least that’s not how it works here! So I settled down and listened to what my husband wanted.
See, it didn’t occur to me that he had things he needed in a home as well. It was foolish of me to think he didn’t care where we lived, that as long as he had decent space and somewhere to play his video games he was ok. My bad! Turned out he put a lot more thought into what he wanted. Some things he brought to my attention that I hadn’t considered.
Together we planned how much we wanted to spend and what was most important to us on the list. This made it easier to rule out certain areas, homes, etc. Now, this may seem simplistic, but I’m telling you: some of us are the part of the team that take charge. I think it’s important to assert what you want, after all, it’s a home you’ll live in for a while. However, learn when and what to compromise. I can write an entire piece on marriage and couples’ things, but I won’t do that now!
Make Your Wish List With Your Family in Mind
How many kids do you have, if any? Do you plan to entertain? Is a huge yard important to you? Think about what your family needs. This home will likely be a far cry from your bachelor or bachelorette pad. It should be!
Think of the things you needed from your shared room with your sibling, to the dorm room in college, to your first apartment. Your space fit what you needed at the time! It’s the same for a family. Maybe you don’t want two stories because you have an infant. Perhaps you need a man cave because you’re a recent empty nester and can finally have the space!
Whatever you do, consider the safety of the property itself. Think of the neighborhood you’re buying and the schools in it. Does it matter that your commute to work is longer? Are you close to the kids while at work? I’m already thinking of the knee pads we will need for our baby because of the new hardwood floors. I worked hard to get at least 90% of our wish list; there’s a method to my madness!
Find the Right Realtor
I can’t tell you the number of times I get a card from a real estate agent–they’re everywhere! All of them promise that you’ll get the best, most knowledgeable service you can find. How can you narrow the options down?
Firstly, if you’re searching for one online, it’s imperative that you read the reviews. Especially if you’re not from the area. How well do they know the market? What’s their success rate on closing deals for both buyers and sellers? Are they available 24/7? Are they friendly? Do they understand your needs and strive to accommodate you? These questions and more were in the front of my mind as we searched for someone. In our case, we went with a family friend we know and trust. She’s great! Despite the fact that we have a history, she is very professional and quick to contact other agents and sellers. We were literally up until midnight as we made the offer on the first house.
Which brings me to another point: make sure your realtor is equipped with software that helps you read and sign contracts from the comfort of your phone. My husband and I appreciate having someone who is efficient in that way. She keeps us informed and makes sure we don’t visit homes that are out of our budget. What’s the point of going through that heartbreak, right? This is your process, so before beginning the search, know you don’t have to go with the first agent; give them an interview and be sure they meet your needs. Ask friends for recommendations. Do your homework so you’re future agent ensures your new home works!
Incorporate a Regular Self-Care Routine
Get ready for the ride! For some, this process is easier than others, so keep that in mind. Losing the first home was disappointing. I remember looking up how I would landscape the deck that overlooked the beautiful yard literally seconds before we were outbid! I took an emotional hit. Not only that, I realized that we were only facing the first part of the process. There was no way I would survive if I couldn’t handle the second hump of racing against other buyers (remember, the first hump is getting pre-approved). With all we had left to face, it was imperative that I implement a self-care routine specifically for this ride. Since then, I make it a point to recall certain scriptures that help me remember that there are great plans meant for me and my family.
I also make sure I limit my time on house hunting sites, as they only stressed me out. I found that they weren’t always up to date and I would get excited about a home that was already under contract. Limiting this intake helped ebb the obsession that was budding with finding a home, especially since there are so many in our area! I liken this process to trying on wedding gowns: so many styles so little time!
Remember those things you used to do before you were in this process. Was it Netflix? Reading a good book? Playing with the kids? Get back to that! Maybe it’s that you do something new like a bubble bath to relax. Try your best not to let this consume you; I think you will appreciate it later. I’m always a proponent of adding to your repertoire for a self-care plan!
Educate Yourself and Stay Positive
We are not finished with our journey yet. There is still have the inspection and appraisal to go. Throughout it all, continue to research about this process and get all the knowledge you can; I’m reading a few manuals here and there so I can learn the language and various terms. The last thing I want to do is have a misunderstanding during the largest purchase of my life, after all.
So, here’s to trusting God and the process. I’m learning so much about myself here. It truly is bringing new things I hadn’t thought of as a wife and mother. As I type this, I’m thinking of how much more square footage we will have to clean! I plan to take my own advice and implement a self-care plan that will keep me sane and in tact. It’s so important! And instead of dwelling on the difficulties encountered along the way, I choose to be positive and claim our new property for the boys to grow up in. How fun!