My parents used to drag my sister and me along with them to open houses a lot as kids. At the time, I hated it. Why did we have to waste what felt like the ENTIRE weekend walking around someone else’s house or sitting the car waiting? What felt like misery at the ripe old age of eight, turned into extreme fascination by the time I hit high school. I gained an interest in the housing market and dreamed of the day that I would be able to buy my own place.
After graduation, I was headed straight for a 4-year university, all the while constantly trying to determine if this was truly the best use of funds. Throughout the four years I spent earning my degree, I wondered if should invest what my parents had saved in my “college fund” into something that would give some sort of tangible return rather than the long-term return on investment typically involved with a traditional college education. Looking back, I am so glad I was able to receive such an awesome education at the University of Oregon, but I was never very excited about being a student.
Immediately after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in public relations, I moved into a tiny studio house right across the street from our family business in Eureka. I had cheap rent, no car payment, hardly any expenses, and decided to save as much money as possible toward a down payment on a home of my own.
It took me one year to find the house that I would buy. It was exactly what they say you should look for: the worst house in the best neighborhood. It wasn’t pretty by any means. My friends looked at me with wide eyes when I took them through for the first time. It smelled awful, had a layer of grime that even bleach had a hard time cutting through, featured about five different types of flooring and needed multiple coats of paint on everything. All this aside, it has strong bones and is in one of the best neighborhoods in Eureka.
I got it for the right price and began working on it the day I was handed the keys by my Realtor®. Months of hard work, blood, sweat and tears went into converting this house into my home.
A few things I learned during this process are: figure out financing before you even start looking, know the neighborhoods you would be ok with living in and the ones you are definitely not ok with. Stick to that, find a Realtor® that you trust and who will work for you.
- Figuring out how you will finance your home is step one. You want to know the amount that you are approved for a home loan so that you and your Realtor® are looking for the right homes to tour.
- Looking at a lot of houses and not finding your home can get discouraging at times. Listen to your gut feeling about certain neighborhoods and features. Don’t settle for something that you know you won’t be happy with a year from now. If the undesired items aren’t reasonably fixable, no need to talk yourself into it.
- With so many online resources like reator.com and Zillow, a lot of people think that it isn’t necessary to use a Realtor®. The truth is, as a buyer, the use of an agent is purely beneficial and costs you nothing. It costs the seller, which they are already signed up for if they have listed the home with another agent. It is so important to use the advice of a professional, especially if this is your first home purchase. Do not underestimate the amount of homework that should be done regarding a property before closing escrow. It’s a lot easier to have someone who is well versed in this industry handle the dirty work. You also want to make sure the Realtor® that you choose is working FOR you. By this, I mean that he or she should be proactive in searching for homes in your criteria range and bringing you options regularly. Make sure you are both on the same page about what you are looking for. Overall, communication is key and you should find someone to work with who jives with your communication style.
The process of buying a home is one of the most exciting times, but it has the potential to be one of the most stressful times as well. Just remember to relax and have fun with it!