We. Bought. A. HOUSE!
(Apologies in advance for the less-than-stellar IPhone pics ahead. We took these on the day we closed, tired from paperwork and so, so happy.)
After a few months of searching, we found a place to call home. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood right by the lake, where we can ride bikes to the beach and grab ice cream at our favorite spot. I always wished for a Christmas house in a trick-or-treating neighborhood, and now we have it. To say that I’m excited about future holidays and backyard BBQs is an understatement.
The house-hunting process was interesting for us, in that although we’re first-time homeowners, we also had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted. At times, this made narrowing down the pool a lot easier; at others, it limited our options considerably. I thought I’d share a few lessons we learned along the way and hopefully reassure others in the process that your house is out there!
Find a realtor who you really trust and connect with. I can’t say enough about our realtor – she’s the best. (For local readers, we can’t recommend Linda LaFleur of Howard Hanna in Westlake enough!) From the start, Linda had our best interests at heart, and that meant a lot to us. We could talk to her about anything and truly valued her opinion. I also appreciated that she would have us draw our own conclusions about a house first, and then offer her own point of view at the end. Linda gave us great things to think about and kept us grounded and focused throughout the process. And her attention to detail is fantastic; she knew what to look for that could be cause for concern, but also had spot-on suggestions for how to update or fix things. During a house search, you spend a lot of time with your realtor, and you want to make sure it’s a good fit.
It’s ok to change your mind. At first we had our mind set on one particular area, then another…yet the more we talked about it, neither felt quite right. We started exploring another neighborhood and before we knew it, we were spending most weekends here, getting ice cream, going to the beach, hitting up the playground. It kind of chose us, in a way, and even though we knew it would be hard to get a house here, we were willing to hold out for one.
Be honest with yourself. We initially put an offer on a house that wasn’t right for us. It was at the top of our budget and the more we looked at the numbers, we knew it would stretch us too much financially. We needed to take a step back and see what we were most comfortable spending; it was important to us that we continued to put a certain amount into savings every month and have funds set aside for my upcoming maternity leave and unforeseen emergencies. This meant readjusting our budget and changing up our search criteria.
Ask for advice and share details sparingly. This was kind of a painful lesson to learn throughout this process. For the most part, any advice we received was learned the hard way by someone else, and it gave us things to think about as we looked for a house. We appreciated that. But I also think that choosing a house is a very personal decision – what works for you and your family may not work for someone else. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to do it, and what matters most to you may not even be on someone else’s radar. Everyone has different budgets, different priorities, different circumstances. So, I’m giving you unsolicited advice here, but I would say to be careful about what you share with others and take whatever you hear with a grain of salt. People get funny about these things and ultimately, no one should take away from the excitement and pride you feel in the home you choose.
Be realistic and be flexible. The perfect house isn’t out there, but the perfect house for you and your family is. What I mean by this is that unless you build from the ground up, you won’t likely find a home that checks every box. Aesthetic updates are almost a certainty and these can be done over time – after all, you want a house that you can grow into! We prioritized our “must-haves” and “non-negotiables” so that we could narrow down our search, while also being flexible along the way. (For example, I was dead set against carpet, yet it’s pretty difficult to find a house without it. Mac and I agreed we could live with it temporarily…and start saving for wood flooring down the road.)
That said, don’t settle. I admit, we got to a point in the house-hunting process where I felt really discouraged. I’d half-heartedly look at houses and suggest going to see them, even though I had no interest whatsoever. At one point, we saw a house in a neighborhood I didn’t even want to be in, and I was willing to consider it because it was brand new and beautifully decorated. A reality check from our realtor set me straight, and I decided that it was better to hold out for a house in the neighborhood we wanted, rather than entertain other ideas out of convenience or desperation. (And thank God we did – our house went up for sale the following Friday!)
First one to open the door with our keys!
As we start to decorate and furnish our new place, I’ll be sharing more design inspiration here! We’re so, so excited for this next adventure and can’t wait to share it with you.