Everything I Learned in Househunting I Learned From Kindergarten
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Dream Turning Into Reality
This is not a play with one of my favorite authors from way back, Robert Fulghum's book, but yes, our househunting turned out to be results of a template based on the book.
Share everything: - there are friends who might be in the same path. We got our great Real Estate agent from a referral of an officemate. It pays to share that you're looking for a house. Share your learnings. You wouldnt know if your friend would possibly be your next door neighbor - or hopefully not someone bidding you out for the same property :(
Be aware of wonder: - list down the qualities of your dream house, however lofty or "castle in the sky" it may be. Our list included: a tree in front, a nearby kid's playground and with a lot of greens around. There were also other things that we wanted to have. If one by one you get to check something like 90 out of 1000 from your list then you maybe near your "dream house". You really can't get everything you want.
Live a balanced life: - think of a house that can cover your needs and some of your wants. My needs: enough space, central to our lifestyle (church, parks, grocery and eating places); My wants: 3 bedrooms, 5 minute drive to banks, hospital, and library, garage door leading directly to the house and not wanting to smell the other neighbor's dinner while it is being cooked :)
Clean up your own mess: Well, not really mess, but clean up your objective in buying one. It's a priceless pleasure to have a place you can call your "OWN". But if you think that reselling a house is a high-yielding investment, then this is where the mess starts. It's not. It is predicted to grow by 2-3% annually. Stay in rental and have your savings grow in bonds.
Don't take things that aren't yours: We started this path with a different perspective and paid a deposit for a small condo in a great area and under the pain of losing it by paying $ 2,000 deposit after hearing that there were 3 units left. After 2 days, we realized the place was not really for us. Where will our family sleep when they visit? It's not an improvement of where we are now. We got our deposit back after we pulled back our offer to purchase.
LOOK: Go around. We knew gasoline prices were increasing but we wanted to make sure we looked enough. So we did it both on the road and online. There are a lot of great websites available. There's MLS, CMHC, there are personal websites of realtors with video and several other great pics of properties for sale.
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together: Your real estate agent is your best friend. Work with him maximizing his experience, his connections and his wisdom. It'd be hard crossing an unfamiliar street alone. We got probably the best real estate agent we could ask for. He was very responsive and zeroed in our needs and requirements. Within 2 weekends, we were able to see the place we wanted.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you Go back to basics.: It sometimes is the best way to deal when trying to get in and out of several houses. Don't be fooled by houses which were done with a $ 1000 worth of staging materials. Warm cookies - the big spaces you need, and milk - the lighting and peaceful environment are always better to focus on than color of the walls or the smell of the owner's air freshener.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody: While you were going on open houses, you might want to keep your negative thoughts or criticisms to yourself until you step out of the house. You dont know that even if they left their property for the day, they might have hooked a recorder to hear what you want to say about their house. You dont want them to hear you say how their green carpet resembles a mini golf course or something.
Take a nap every afternoon: Don't do house hunting every day. Relax. Reevaluate. Take some time to step back and go back the next weekend. You might have missed something when you first saw it in the afternoon, go back at night, then maybe go back in the morning. We went around like 5 x to the same place, attended a church mass to see the community, bough snacks and went to the park to see the neighbors. We were practically stalkers for several days.
Put things back where you found them: Open houses - this is something new for us. People really leaving their houses with their personal belongings for people wanting to see their homes. One thing to remember - not to take anything. Don't even touch anything that's not part of the house hunting. You will have the chance to move things around when you do the house inspection. That cake on the table looks really tempting, but keep your hands inside your pockets :)
Wash your hands before you eat: Prepare and be clear with what you wanted when you're ready to offer. Know your price and stick to what you think is your maximum offer before walking away.
Play fair: Now that you've seen your "dream house". Don't offer a pittance just to get a bargain. If you know that the house is valued based on the other houses in the neighborhood, or near the market price, stick to it but be rational with your offer. Eventually at a good inflection point, you'll get the house at a good price.
Don't hit people: You know you want it. The other party knows they want to sell it. When doing the offer, personalities shouldnt matter. We were defended well and to the hilt by our Real Estate Agent without resorting to discussions on personalities. There were no discussion on how the place smells, how bad the color of the walls are, which is related to having your criticisms to yourself.
Flush: You arrived at a great price for both parties! You're ready to sign. Flush out everything and heave a sigh of relief. I didnt follow this one though. I was at the last steps of the door acting out my "walk away" part if they didnt accept our price. :)
My acting probably worked. They accepted our offer.