The Great Home-Buying AdventureTuesday, February 09, 2016
I have been very quiet on this blog about a hugely time consuming (and thought consuming) part of Mark and I's life lately: house hunting. It has been a wild ride and we haven't even found a house yet, so I can only imagine what lies ahead. (That's your cue to leave encouraging cliches in the comments, telling me it's all downhill from here and the light is at the end of the tunnel. Those are just suggestions - feel free to pick your own cliche.)
Back in October, we started casually browsing around for a house that would be closer to Mark's job and a fun fixer-upper project for the next few years. Don't laugh - we're still in the rosy stage where a fixer-upper sounds like "fun". We were very casual about the process, thinking we would get serious near the beginning of the year. We went out and looked at a few homes, scouted out a few areas, and narrowed in a little more on what we were looking for. I have learned so much during this process - both about house buying and patience! One of the biggest things is that house hunting through the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) is pretty much impossible. The market practically shuts down. Our realtor told us this is because most people don't want to show their homes over Christmas when they have a lot of family & friends in town.
The next things I learned is to not trust online pre-approval applications. We got pre-approved through our bank back in October and I remember thinking, "Wow. That was easy!" I've now learned if that thought ever crosses your mind during the home buying process then something has likely been done wrong or overlooked and you need to double-check ASAP! Unbeknownst to us, there are way more questions and verifications that need to be addressed when you are a self-employed contractor (like Mark is) - questions and verifications that don't happen when you apply online. Fast-forward three months when we decided to put an offer in on a house, only to have the bank give us a pitying pat on the back and say, "Not today, sweeties. Why don't you try again in 2018."
Fast forward through a stunned car ride home, a few days of downright depression, two weeks of phone calls, research, and a couple tears of frustration, and we are back in the game! Only this time we're a little more wise, a little more patient, and a lot more skeptical of online forms and approval letters. We are learning.
It's funny how easy it is to write this post and skim right over the days and weeks of up and down emotions. What no one really tells you is that buying a house is one big fat emotional roller coaster. There's the excitement of starting the search when your mind goes haywire with all the adorable home you're going to find out there. Then comes a slap in the face when you realize how freaking much houses costs and the sacrifices you're going to have to make to find something even remotely reasonable in your price range. There's the feeling of awe when you look over your finances and think "We can actually do this. We're like real grown-ups who can go out and buy a house!" Then there's an audible womp-womp when you look through the listings on realtor.com and see absolutely nothing that you would consider living in (well, besides that one house that's a mere $200,00 out of your price range!). There are multiple other stages of emotions during this time but it all comes to a head when you arrive at the moment where you find a house. That's when the roller coaster really picks up speed. Your mind starts racing 100 miles an hour and you start thinking, "This could world. Yes, this could really work!" Suddenly, you've decorated all the rooms in your mind and opened pictures of it in Photoshop so you can change the wall colors and remodel the kitchen (true story, this actually happened). Your heart starts doing flips and loops as you look at your partner and quietly say, "Should we put in an offer?" And despite the utter turmoil of emotions that's going on inside your mind, you've got to play it calm and collected because the truth is...making an offer means almost nothing. There's a big possibility that the seller won't even accept it. They might, though, so you've got to be committed enough to be stuck with the house, but they might not, so you can't let yourself get too committed. It is the most ridiculous pull of emotions ever.
It is stupid. It is petrifying. It is exhilarating. And that, my friends, is house buying.
I'm learning to trust that there's a house out there somewhere that's meant for us and that checks all the required boxes. It's the house that we'll sit down to dinner in one day and talk about how happy we are that we took so much time to find a house because, if not, we would be stuck with all the almost-right-but-not-quite houses that we looked at along the way. Still, knowing that the wait will pay off one day and actually having patience are two different things. I threw up my hands in frustration a few weeks ago and asked Mark why it was taking us so long to find a house when it took other people one month tops. I know that's a ridiculous comparison to make since no two people go into the home buying process looking exactly the same thing, but it still seems to be taking us an exceptionally long time. (Another cue for your comments assuring me that four months is not a long time to be looking at all).
In the meantime, I'm going to try to keep enjoying the hunt and walking through sweet little ranches every weekend (even if they don't end up being our sweet little ranch), pinning excessively, and constantly refreshing the Realtor app. There's a beaut out there waiting for us and we'll find it when the time is right.