- Patience is a virtue and one I am not blessed with. This process taught me a lot about myself and the biggest thing it taught me is that I have the patience of a four year old. If you are like me be warned: there is a lot of waiting, unknowns and what ifs involved in buying a house.
- Be prepared before you officially start shopping. Because of my job I was already very familiar with our local real estate market and the process of buying a house but even then I spent months looking at houses in our price range on the RMLS and in our neighborhood. This allowed us to be familiar with what we could expect in our price range, what costs what in different neighborhoods, and most importantly, what was a good deal. We were able to recognize very quickly that our house was a screaming deal given it's price.
- Know what you want. We spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted in our house. Not only what were the deal breakers, but also what would be nice. That really helped us identify what had potential and what didn't. It also helped Chris' understand why I hated option A and me understand why he would not settle for option B. It helped us see past ugly light fixtures, outdated cabinets and a strange back door. We were able to recognize that the bones where what we wanted.
- Put a lot of thought into your Realtor. I work with a lot of people in the housing industry and I know a lot of Realtors but we thought very carefully about who to work with. Even as someone who works with the industry there were still unknowns for me in the process and I knew I wanted someone that I could trust with things I didn't know and who would deal with my type A impatient personality. Our Realtor was perfect for me and if you are shopping in the Eugene/Springfield Area I cannot recommend Kathi enough. She answered her phone every single time I called her, she anticipated my nervousness, questions and issues. She fought for the best deal for us and she was brutally honest.
- It always costs more. It is really important before you go shopping for houses to get prequalified for many reasons. But the most important reason is it helps you understand what you can afford. We had a general idea of what we could afford but it wasn't until we sat down with our lender and went through a good faith estimate that we knew for sure. This allows you to account for all the costs besides the mortgage and understand what your actual monthly payment will be. If you know ahead of time that you can afford $13oo a month for you house then your lender will help you understand how that breaks down. Remember besides you actual mortgage payment there is interest, taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance.
- Get an inspection. This is so important and made a huge difference for us. Most states, including Oregon, don't make you get an inspection. In a lot of transactions the sellers actually pay for the inspection. We followed our Realtors advice and hired our own inspector and a really good one. Think about it, you want the inspector to work for you not the seller. It is in your best interest for them to find every possible thing wrong with the house before you buy it. In many cases you can renegotiate the sale with the Sellers and have them pay for many of the repairs. In our case the inspector found $10,000 worth of issues that needed addressed including standing water under the house and needing a new roof. We were able to negotiate to have the sellers pay for the larger repairs and we agreed to take on the smaller ones. You also have the option of walking away from a deal without loosing your earnest money if you find serious damage during inspection.
Those are some of my thougts. I couldn't be more pleased with our house and I am so excited to move in and get settled this weekend.
*Please note I am not a real estate professional and these are just my thoughts based on our process. If you are thinking about buying a house you should talk to both a lender/broker and realator to seek their professional opinion.