... when you're constantly on the move, few things remain unchanged.

this week's tip | house hunting

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

As I mentioned in my last post, Will and I have decided to stay in Texas and make a home close to the Austin area.  We spent much of the first half of 2014 looking at neighbourhoods and house prices, trying to see what feels right and where we would be comfortable.  Now, with that finally agreed upon, we've spent the past week in full house-hunting mode!

As exciting as it is looking at various estates and houses, fantasizing about decorating and buying new things: there are a lot of frustrating aspects of house hunting too.  One of the most frustrating things for me is finding a house we really like, walking through it, liking it even more and then being disappointed for one reason or another.  Regardless of whether the disappointment comes from the house selling from underneath us, or because of structural issues or blah blah: every time I see a house / floor plan I like, I begin to envision our life there.  I imagine what every room will contain, I picture our existing furniture mixed with fabulous new pieces, I see the kitchen cabinets painted a certain way, what kind of landscaping would be done and even the letterbox!  It crushes me when my dream bubble bursts and I need to farewell my mental home! 

Granted, so far it's only happened twice, but to stop myself (and hopefully some other eager buyers too) getting carried away again, I've made a checklist based on months of experience and some advice from a couple of friends that are in real estate:    

1)  See a Seller's Disclosure Form!
Assuming this form is filled out honestly - it is major (hence being #1).  It contains all the information that the seller knows about the house: how old it is, what repairs or remodeling have taken place, whether any insurance claims have been made, whether anything needs repairing or replacing, and assuming appliances are included: how old they are plus warranty information etc.  

2)  Don't take their word for it
The Seller's Disclosure Form is a great beginning and will tell you things your real estate agent often can't, like whether the water is septic, or when the roof was replaced.  In an ideal world, everyone fills it out 100% honestly without omitting a single detail, but you never know what the seller's situation is - or how desperate they are to sell so it's always best to double check what they say.

3)  Professional inspection
This is where the professionals come in!  In most cases, they will be able to call baloney on anything that's misleading in the Seller's Disclosure form and they are vital for ascertaining that the foundation, roof, electric work and drainage are all sound.  Choosing a home inspection company can be daunting, but here's a detailed article I've found that helped Will and I narrow it down.

4)  Go along for the inspection! 
It actually amazes me that people don't.  Maybe I'm a total cynic, but I believe it's always best to see things for yourself and be part of a process that determines one of the biggest investments you make in your life.  Not that inspectors aren't trustworthy by any means - but I'd rather see any problems firsthand and immediately get their professional opinion about whether they're easy to fix or can eventually lead to larger issues.  Being present for the inspection will definitely help you get to know your future home and as you walk through the halls and rooms, receiving positive feedback from the inspector, feel free to start dreaming... <3  

This advice is for myself as much as anyone else!  Hopefully it will serve as a reminder before the next time I jump the gun and begin mentally moving into a place with (according to Will) obvious foundation issues!!  From experience, it's not worth getting excited purely based on the appearance of a house.  Sure, it ticks all the aesthetic boxes, but do you really want to live in a beautiful mess that's crumbling in around you? If so, you'd better have thousands of dollars spare to invest into repairs, because you'll never be able to sell it otherwise!

6 comments

  1. Hi Lena .. it's so wise to be as sensible and pragmatic as possible when buying .. good luck is all I can say - and I sure hope a home comes your way soon ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Hilary - it's a learning curve for me! Most of the 'advice' I give on my blog is for me :p hehe
      Thanks for the well wishes - we have narrowed down a couple of houses we really like, got the disclosures, drawn up pro & cons lists and now we just have to move forward with the inspections... <3 very exciting. I'm fighting tooth and nail to stop myself fantasizing but it's getting hard!
      Thanks for always reading and supporting me xo

      Delete
  2. It’s only natural to imagine the kind of life you’ll have in your prospective houses. After all, why would you settle in a house you can’t imagine yourself living in? However, although “fantasizing” is fun, it shouldn’t let it make you neglect the realistic side of things at the same time. Your friends in real estate are more than right when they advised you not to let the aesthetic appeal of the house trick you into overlooking its overall foundation.

    Willard Evans @ WOW Homes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your advice! It's really great of you to take the time, I appreciate it :)

      Delete

 

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Sharing my stories of migrating from Australia to the US | travel adventures | married life | furry kids | new experiences | lessons | and loving life despite always missing home. xo.

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