If you've never bought a house before, it can be a very stressful yet exciting time. I bought my first townhouse when I was 24 with my boyfriend at the time. We got married and had two children and we were living in a two bedroom townhouse. Having stuff for four people in that small of a space quickly became too small for us and we knew it was finally time to upgrade to a new home where there would be more space and a yard for the kids to play in. We made the decision quite quickly and started the process, this was in June of 2020.
As we all know June 2020 we were freshly into the pandemic and for some reason houses were FLYING off of the market. Our townhouse was only listed for 4 days before we had received multiple offers and were under contract. We found the house we wanted to buy and because the market was so hot and competitive we had to offer well above asking price and waive the inspection (which we felt comfortable doing with this particular house). Below are some tips I find helpful to pass along to anyone buying a house whether it's your first time or fifth time.
When Should You Consider Upgrading?
For us it was a very easy decision when we decided it was time to upgrade. We were runny out of space for all of our stuff, needed a yard for our kids and dog to play in freely that wasn't a shared space, and just overall wanted something that was just ours that wasn't owned by an association.
Some factors you'll want to consider are not only about space, but if the mortgage rates and prices are right for you and your financial situation. The interest rates fluctuate and if they're low then it's a great time to buy! We got lucky to buy during a time where the rates were very low and affordable.
Tips When Looking For A New Home
Find A Realtor- The first thing you'll want to do when you're ready to sell your home or even just thinking about selling is to find a realtor to help you out. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can use a website like Realtor.com or other home buying sites and you'll be able to find realtors local to you. The other way (and I think more preferred way) is to ask for realtor recommendations from people you know. If you go this way, chances are you'll get a good realtor with good reviews that will help you.
Make A List Of All Towns/Cities You'd Consider- Make a list of every town or city you would consider moving to. If you know there's only ONE place you want to live then go with that, just know it might be harder to find a house. If you're not picky about location, let your realtor know of all places you wouldn't mind living in. We originally thought we only wanted one town but soon realized it wasn't realistic and ended up moving to a town we hadn't originally considered. So be open minded!
Make A List Of Non-Negotiables You Want In A House- This is probably one of the most important things you can do when buying a house. If there is something you NEED a house to have, make sure you look for houses with it. Buying a house is a big deal, you want it to have the things you want, it's not like renting an apartment where you can easily move after a year if you don't like it.
Figure Out Your Expenses- You'll need to figure out how much you can afford and get pre-approved before looking at houses. If you're wondering how much you can afford in a new home trying using a Mortgage Calculator to help figure out the expenses.
Tour Lots Of Homes- If you can, set aside a day and ask your realtor to schedule a bunch of home tours in one day. We did this on a Saturday and toured about 5 homes in one day. We had signed a contract later that night on our new home. There are benefits and risks to doing this. Because we waited a couple of days before touring in a hot market, by the time we had our tour for a few houses they were already under contract. The benefit was that we could get a bunch done in one day and compare them while they were fresh in our minds.
Don't Settle- Biggest advice here is don't settle on a home. Yes, it's really exciting and you just want to get into a new home, but don't settle on a house just so you can get one. Make sure it's something you're going to LOVE living in and isn't going to need a ton of work (unless that's what you're looking for). Take your time.
Tips For Selling Your Current Home
Make Your Listing Desirable- Make sure your house looks spotless and well put together when you take pictures for your listing. Your realtor might even hire a professional photographer so the pictures look inviting and bright. In the description you'll want to be honest, but also "fluff up" the positives of the house you're selling. For us, our townhouse was an end unit and had a bigger deck than the other townhouses. This was a major positive to put in the listing.
Stage Your House- If you're looking to make your photos look a little more appealing, stage your house. Hang up art, make your beds, set out plate sets on your kitchen table, set out throw pillows on your couch and so much more. Although these little details seem small and insignificant, it can make a huge difference in how your house is viewed from buyers.
Have An Open House- Having an open house makes it so much more convenient and easy for you, the seller. Set aside one weekend where you make plans to leave your house for two days and have an open house. This makes it easier on you because you won't have to constantly leave your house on different days for buyers to tour. You'll most likely get multiple offers if you have an open house too!
Fix it up before listing- You may not want to put anymore money into a house you're selling but if you can make some upgrades before listing it will help you in the long run. Make sure the upgrades make sense for you financially and that you will benefit and gain more money in the selling. Here's an article of advice about kitchens in the current market.
There's a lot of information in here, but I think it's all beneficial to know what you're getting into before you sell and/or buy a new home for your family. It can be a stressful process but once you move into your new home it will all be worth it.