We’ve been house hunting on and off for almost two years! This should sum up my absolute frustrations with the entire process of buying and selling homes, and the current state of the market. What a roller coaster these last two years have been! While we haven’t yet taken the plunge and bought a home yet, we’ve learned a lot along the way.
We started casually looking at what was out there but not super ready to buy. We met a plethora of real estate agents ranging from incredibly sweet to some downright sharks. Some seemed to fight for your business, others couldn’t be bothered. But the one common thread with all of them that we noticed, they’re usually not looking out for OUR best interests, and mostly only for theirs. How are first time home buyers like us, supposed to feel confident that we’ve made the right decision? That we’re not getting in over our heads? That we’re not ending up with a money pit on our hands? We narrowly escaped a few treacherous properties that the agents were just trying to sell, and it truly makes sense now why you’d want to use a realtor that you personally know (if you’re so lucky).
I thought I’d share some of what we’ve learned over the past year or so, and hopefully this will help some of you who are also house hunting in this market. First you should know, California is in a sellers market. There’s a lot of buyers out there and every property gets multiple offers, leading to the dreaded bidding war. However this does not always mean these properties are not without fault.
Here’s what we learned:
-Get good comps for the area and look at what this property and other properties in the area were sold for over the last 10 years. This gives you a good idea of how the neighborhood is doing and what the rate of foreclosures are.
-If the listing looks fishy, it could be. Ask your realtor to pull the tax documents for the house. We looked at a house that was listed as “single family residence, detached” on the MLS but was actually technically a manufactured mobile home. They were trying to get way more than the house was worth!
-Never let the agents bully you into removing the contingencies of the contract for any reason. They will say it’s to make your offer more appealing and get accepted, but this is exactly how sub-par properties get sold quickly, to buyers who removed things like appraisal or inspection contingencies.
-Find a realtor you’re really comfortable with and someone who will fight for you. Not just a paper pusher. It will make all the difference in the world when your in a bidding war for your dream house.
-When you go to see an open house, don’t just walk through. Spend a good 30 minutes taking time to see yourself living there. Hang out in the kitchen, sit at the dining table and see how it feels walking through the halls.
-Although we have yet to find that perfect place for us, I feel like a lot of places we saw especially early on, could have really worked. We were too shy to pull the trigger because we felt like it was too early. Be aggressive when you want something and make it happen.
-Lastly, this one I have to remind myself of too… Stay calm. It’s overwhelming and emotionally draining. But it’s worth it. Take a break every few months and give it time. Come back to it when you’re ready. Don’t give up entirely.
Our search will continue after we settle in with the new baby for a bit. Still can’t wait to find our Petit Trianon to call home and get some real DIY projects underway.
Have you bought your home recently? What have you learned in the process? Please share!