A Regular Gals Guide to Homebuying

I've purchased two homes in my 35 years, so I mean, I'm pretty sure that qualifies me to give advice.

Not really, but it does qualify me to give some tips about the whole process...I think! I purchased a town home during the housing slump in 2011, it was a buyers market to say the least. That fact was even more apparent when I set out to buy the home we live in now.

Here are my tips, tricks, and personal horror stories.

So let's dive in shall we? It's gonna be a long one.


The first home I bought, I had a horrible agent. The second home I bought, again, another horrible agent. Find out what you would think makes a "horrible" agent, then, find someone that isn't those things. For me, I needed someone VERY responsive. Neither agent I used was responsive. Even during the writing an offer part of it all, you need someone who is going to act on things quickly. Especially in a seller's market where homes sell fast. Don't be afraid to get rid of an agent that you were matched up with. Talk to people. Use an agent that you get first hand reviews of from people you know. Both times for me, I regretted not getting rid of my agents, remember they work for you. If they aren't meeting your needs then, thank you...next.

  • Don't Rush the Process
Sometimes, especially in a seller's market, you feel so so rushed. But remember, this is a BIG purchase. Act quickly, but not hastily. We had our rental lease about to expire, so we were rushing. We missed things during our initial viewing of the house we ended up buying. (Also, this is something your agent should tell you, if they are rushing you, beware.) We saw maybe 10 homes and made offers on about 8 of them. They were selling right from underneath us. It was insane. That alone made us feel rushed. But REALLY think about it. Could we have went on a month-to-month lease situation in order to keep a roof over our head? Yes. It's hard to ignore all the things that can make you move too quickly, but try and stop, evaluate, and think.

  • Consider a New Build
Sometimes it's a better deal to buy new. If you don't go upgrade crazy, and you have ample time to build, go for it. If we had had more time, we would've built. Sometimes it's hard to find exactly what you want OR almost exactly what you want from existing homes. Also, you just never know what happened in the house with previous owners. We, were surprised by carpets with years of dog pee. We were duped by the sellers because they used an inordinate amount of air fresheners when we first saw the home. We just thought they were trying to make it smell nice. On the day we closed, we did the final walkthrough, only to walk into a home without a ton of fragrance so we really got to feel the full smack in the face of dog pee. We had planned to put laminate wood floors upstairs but it became clear that we were going to have to do that BEFORE we even moved in because...ew. If we had built new, that would've never been an issue OR an added and surprise cost. My first home I bought was a new build and let me tell you, it was a hell of a lot easier to assimilate into the home. This time it's taken so much time and money to try and rid the home of the old owners and we're still not finished!

  • Ooooh Girl, Plan to Compromise
Unless your budget is epic and your down payment is massively hefty, plan to compromise. Know what you CAN live without on your wish list and know what you CAN'T live without. Simple as that.

  • Pay Attention to Your Inspection
GO to your home inspection if you can. It'll give you another chance to see the home (because you can still get out of your contract at this point, once the home inspection is said and done and signed off on, then you're pretty much stuck - if you see something that is a non-negotiable item and the sellers won't fix/change it - you can get out of the contract) - I wish I attended the home inspection for this home but I didn't. Don't let your agent tell you that it's not necessary to attend, this is YOUR potential home. Our inspector missed a lot. For heaven's sake none of our sink stoppers even worked. None of them. And....our doorbell didn't work...it wasn't even connected to a power source. So yeah, go if you can! Make your own notes!

  •  Go to the Potential New Neighborhood at Varying Times of the Day/Week
This tip really is for buying or renting. My mom told me this YEARS ago when I first started renting on my own. It's pretty self-explanatory. Visit the neighborhood in the morning, afternoon, and evening. When night falls, a neighborhoods vibe can be totally different than when the sun it shining. See if it feels safe, is it a raucous environment (man I sound like my grandmother), aesthetically does it give you good vibes? How does it make you feel? Don't move anywhere that gives you pause or makes you feel like if you were home alone, you would be concerned.

  • Be Prepared to be Broke
Yep. Broke from every direction. Remember regular gal's guide. This regular gal does NOT have a disposable income and quite frankly barely has a savings account. Credit card debt for days for this gal. So I'm broke in every direction. Things will come up that you weren't prepared for. All of a sudden you had all the things you needed in your rental but in your new or new to you home, there's an absence of all the necessary things. Don't feel like you HAVE to buy everything you need all at once, you have plenty of time, but even if you pace yourself...you'll still be broke.

  • Get Your Finances in Order
You will have to provide SO much documentation once you are under contract. Try to get a head of it. Make sure your credit score is in tact. Make your payments ON TIME. Don't open any new cards in the months leading up to when you start looking for a home. Make sure you don't overdraft on your bank account. You'll need to provide at least 3 months of bank statements and if there is an overdraft you'll need to explain it.  Just be mindful of your finances before you start down the home search process. This section could be a post all in itself, if you have any questions about the finance part of home buying, please feel free to ask!

No matter what you end up with, take a breath, get to the closing table, take it all in stride because girl/fella...you bought OR are buying a house!!

    One more thing...PLEASE....find an agent that will fight for you - to go to bat for you - to represent you and to make choices that benefit you. As a first time home buyer, or if you are buying for the second time but...it's been awhile, your agent needs to make you feel comfortable and SAFE during this whole process. No question is a stupid question, if your agent makes you feel that way, find a new one.

    Photographic evidence of the day we closed on our house, even with ALL the (unexpected and expected) trials we were going to face getting the house ready to move into, we were freaking thrilled.

    If you have ANY questions, please feel free to ask!

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