Excellent home searching advice, especially for first time buyers…

Excellent home searching advice, especially for first time buyers…

Guys, first off – THANK YOU for all the love and tips and thoughts from yesterday! I can’t tell you how nice it is to get all this out in the open instead of being so stuck in my head all day, haha…

And the Mrs. greatly thanks all of you too! Especially those on “Team Wife!” 😉

We’ll be getting back to the more *financial* aspects here in a bit, especially as we move to getting pre-approved with mortgage stuff and figuring out our budget and what not (PS: we’re strongly considering a 15 year mortgage! You save so much – wow!!), however in the meantime I wanted to share an excellent note from a reader on things to pay attention to while house hunting…

If you’re new to the home buying process, or dipping your toes back into it again after some time off like us, this is for you.

Shout out to Larry for passing this over! Who you might recall from his dumping of “80 years of financial hindsight” on us a few years back 😉 Another excellent post jam packed with tips.

Good morning, J.

I have owned a home forever. Not just the current one. We spent a lot of time and money looking for Utopia (there ain’t one) so we bought and sold a LOT.

One big recommendation when looking: know how much space you really need. We had a large house in California with a gourmet kitchen and large family room. We also had a living room and dining room. We stored a wind surfer and a claw foot bathtub in the living room and used the dining room about 4 times in over 10 years. We lived in the family room.

Give serious thought to your lifestyle and where it will play out in your house. Our best friends have a huge living room – we have never been in it. We live in their kitchen and family room when we visit.

My “office” doubles as a guest bedroom with a trundle bed – we have guests maybe once or twice a year – there is no reason for a dedicated guest room.

Look at some of the references on small houses and see what people have done with minimal space – not that you need to do that, but it may give you some ideas. A Murphy bed with bookcases on each side in your office. Don’t spend the money on just space. Spend more on where you spend the most time.

Don’t skimp on the “important” stuff – if you are into cooking, spend the money on the kitchen with a decent pantry and good appliances. My wife just replaced some family room furniture and replaced two swivel chairs with non-swivel and she hates them. My rationale – get a new chair – you spend over 20 hours a week in the friggin’ chair, get what you want. I offer that as an example of where/how to spend the $$$.

Do you grill and spend time outside? A nice patio might be a consideration. Room to build a fortress for the boys in the back yard?

A “Mud Room” was a must for us so snow and mud are not tracked through the house – Virginia might be for lovers, but I understand it also has weather.

Same with wood floors – we will see them every day – they are more forgiving than tile – let’s get wood in the kitchen and family room. Putting the money where you can appreciate it.

Bottom line, look intensively at your lifestyle and what you do day in and day out and then look for a place that facilitates that.

We just did a 10 day trip to Mexico and did it with just carry-on – our first attempt. One of the main things in packing was forget about bringing all the “what ifs”. Apply that rationale to your new home. No “what if we start having dinner parties?”, “What if we have frequent house guests?” What if… If ya ain’t done it in 39 years, you probably won’t start.

Take your time and get something you are both happy with and that fits your real needs/wants – try to prevent the “damn, I wish we would have done that, or why did we do this?” You want turmoil in your life, move into a house one of you is not comfortable with. We have friends with that situation. The day they closed, she told him she hated the house. 😕

Sit down after the kids are in bed and have a serious discussion in the realm of “what do you really like about this house? What don’t you like? What is important to you? What did you like better in the last house? Why did we decide to rent? Etc. Develop a list of sorts – here is what we have to have, here is what we would like to have, here is stuff that is not important, etc..

Keep us posted, at least to a degree – it would be fun to see what you guys consider important and what can fall by the proverbial wayside.

Good luck

That’s my bolding up there which I think sums it up nicely. We can get so sucked into the *niceties* a home offers that we might end up accidentally chasing the wrong things and completely overlook the more important ones! Like the ones that best *fit* our specific lifestyles!

And while we still haven’t sat down to list out all our “must haves” yet in this potential new home (emphasis on potential – it’s not a given  yet! ;)), here’s what our list looks like so far:

  • needs at least 3 beds
  • 2 baths
  • yard
  • some sort of basement or play room for the kids
  • place for me to take all my daily walks (and not be worried about getting shanked)
  • garage for my wife (who apparently has never had one before?)
  • storage for the 1,000’s of kids clothes we’ve hoarded because Lord knows as soon as we offload them #4 will make an appearance!! And it’ll be another boy!!
  • kid-friendly community
  • something comfortably within our budget (to be determined)

We’ve also got some strong preferences on what the house should *look like* and feel like too, however that’s for another day as we’re not seeing eye-to-eye on that either 😉 I prefer an older, more unique, house that has some style closer to the city, and she’s into more modern and newer homes in a community that, dare I say it, is more “cookie cutter.”

But hey – baby steps! It’s going to be a compromise no matter what we end up going for, and so far I’d like to think that I have an extra feather in my cap for simply having this conversation, haha…

One other tip someone sent over that might prove helpful to you over time (thanks “SL!”):

Here’s a fun fact about home ownership which snuck into mine a couple of years after I bought. Check your homesteading tax laws. I bought from an elderly person who had lived in this home for 50 years, and in my state, home owner taxes DO NOT INCREASE from the amount you paid when you were 65. So, the taxes I expected on my home were 30 year old tax values. On reappraisal, my taxes went up by 400% because I am not elderly. This drastically increased my home payment even with the option to lump sum escrow.

I had no idea this was even a thing, did you?? And does that mean that this owner was 95??? Good for them! Haha… They deserve a nice break after living that long!

At any rate, I’ll continue sharing tips as they come up here, but tomorrow we’ll be back to our usual NON-house talking posts as I’ve already hit my limit for the year, haha…



house halp

PS: If you missed yesterday’s news, click here.


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