House shopping can be a long process that seems never ending. But with time, patience, and persistence you just might find a home that is perfect for you. These are somethings that I have learned from my own house hunting experience.
1. "House Hunting" Is Overrated. My husband and I always laugh at the Zillow commercials. They always make the process look enjoyable and even "magical." What I want to see is a couple night after night looking with no luck, eating out, and the worst of all bargaining with the owner. Having a realtor as an in between can be nerve wrecking, when it comes to waiting for that one call saying he/she accepted your offer. House hunting is like so many things in life, you don't understand until you have been there. The relief of finding a home, is one of the best feelings in the world.
2. Bring A Camera. This was the greatest thing I ever thought of, really! Sometimes pictures don't show everything good or bad. There might be something about a home that you simply love. A picture is a good reference for comparing your likes or dislikes about a home with other home interests. If you have a smartphone, a panoramic shot is also great. A large room, like a kitchen perhaps, can't be taken in one shot. A panoramic view of the entire kitchen can be great to look back on, and perfect for sharing with family or friends. Pictures are so handy to take to a hardware store or such for comparing, if you decide to renovate or redecorate. You can keep a good idea in mind of how things look, and what would match the room.
3. Be Prepared. You never imagine what awkward situations you could find yourself in until it's too late. Our townhouse apparently was being rented out, and we found ourselves walking into a home with the renters sitting on the couch and their daughter upstairs. It was indeed an awkward situation to say the least! The renters did not seem to happy about the townhouse being sold, and everyone walked on pins and needles throughout the home. Our realtor, not being the realtor of the townhouse, had no idea that the family would be home during our look through.
Earlier, when we had looked at our first home, she had mentioned that having the home owner present was always an awkward situation. I fully agree, you don't feel free to speak up about the things you like and dislike about the home. The situation had left us feeling doubtful about buying the home. Our lovely realtor set up another viewing, without the renters. The owner, a sweet old man, had let us in. He answered whatever questions we had, but we didn't talk to much about the home until we were upstairs. He was very relaxed, stayed downstairs, watched TV, and waited for us to finish. He is the only exception to my "owner not being home" rule.
4. Keep An Open Mind. In our case a townhouse was the last thing we were looking for. Good parking (something hard to find, when you live on hills) and a nice backyard was our first concern. After searching with no end, I mentioned to my husband the townhouse not far from our apartment. He said he would take a look, and next thing I knew we were scheduled for a look through. Even though we do not have a large backyard, I now have an excuse to visit my parents farm next summer with our baby to be.
5. You Give And You Take. Things may be different in your area, or at least your price range. With a budget of 90,000, homes sometimes could have the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Most homes that had wonderful backyard, had a lot to be fixed on the inside. Two homes we looked at had a beautiful inside, but a terrible location. They were either in a bad neighborhood or on a sharp hill with terrible parking.
The problem is that people will "try" and sell their home for a high price based off the acres or size of the home. For example, a seller wanted 95,000 for a home that was falling apart and very outdated. The home had four bedrooms and lots of space. If someone had the money to fix up the home, then it might turn out to be a lovely place. For our friends with a larger budget this could explain, why they are building instead of buying a home. Even in a higher price, some homes just are not worth what the seller is asking.
But in our situation, we would rather pay for a small nice home, than one that needed a lot of work. (especially with a little boy on the way). Something hard to do, without going over what we all ready pay in rent. We found in the end that a townhouse was more suitable for now. Though our backyard is something to be desired, the townhouse itself has lots of room inside and needs no fixing up.
6. Spring and Fall. The busiest time of the year for realtors in our area is Spring and Fall. We had decided, if we had not found a house soon that we would postpone the search until spring. Icy roads, cold days, and early sunsets aren't ideal for house shopping. Who wants to house shop in the summer time, when they could be at the beach or vacation spot?
House's seemed to flood the market come fall time in our county. On the other hand, this makes buying a good home hard. We had looked at a small home in Monongah that needed some fixing up, but it was a cute little home with a wonderful back yard. Less than a week of looking at the home, a buyer bid on the house and the seller accepted the offer. We learned quickly that you have to move fast, if you really want a house.
7. Zillow Is Not Always Accurate. Realtor's will leave contingent houses posted on Zillow, Trulia, and so on to get you to call or email them. They use this as an opportunity to politely tell you that the house is no longer for sale, but that they could help you find another one. On the other hand there are realtors that simply forget to take the house down. A house that we were interested seemed to be active, but later we found that the house had all ready been sold a long time ago. The realtor just never took the house off the market.
Locally, we have a website called North Central West Virginia MLS, and it is considered the most recent and updated website, more than Zillow. You might be able to ask a realtor for your local website as well. It comes in handy, when looking at Zillow. There are many houses that we found contingent that were still active on Zillow. I know that I have said some negative things about Zillow, but I have to say that it has been handy. The phone app is great to have on hand, when looking for the address or even pictures to show friends and family.
Finally, our little townhouse we can't wait to move into! We still have a lot of paperwork and the appraisal, inspection, and such before closing. After long evenings shuttling from home to home, it is wonderful to finally have a place to call our own! Words can't explain how blessed I feel, and I can't wait to share pictures as we paint, move in, and make it our own.