Buying a house in 2022 was like trying to get on a moving train with infrequent stops. You had to be prepared and you had to be willing to risk a lot more to get a seat. There are a few things we did while searching and preparing for our home buying journey that made it a little easier.
We knew that we would need the funds from the sale of Pearl House to purchase our next home. As soon as we closed on Pearl House we immediately started looking. I had heard plenty of horror stories and heartbreaking journeys of people trying to find a home, so we were nervous and anticipated the worst. After looking for about three weeks we put in our first offer. It ended up getting accepted the next day! Here are a few of the things we did that made buying a house a little easier.
Determine a Very Specific Criteria
Its soo important to know exactly what you’re looking for. The amount of listings available can be very overwhelming if you don’t start to narrow them down somehow. Instead of saying we want a “big house”, try to get specific in the details. For example we were looking for something between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet. Some other criteria we were looking for was: close to a train line, tall ceilings, and a fixer upper. It’s important to note that not all of this criteria was figured out on day one of looking. We went to several showings and open houses to get a feel for it. After walking through a split level with 8′ ceilings, we immediately decided that wasn’t for us. From then on we didn’t have to waste any time and mental energy looking at similar houses.
Share Your Favorites
If you’re buying a house with a partner sharing your favorites is a great idea. Most real estate websites have a “favorite” feature (the little heart button!). They will compile all your favorites in one easy to find list for you. Michael and I were constantly browsing Zillow, often with the filter of “on Zillow for no more than 1 day”. Once either one of us “liked” a listing, it would populate both of our favorite list. If you are working with a Realtor, they should be able to offer a similar feature on the MLS system for you.
Go to Open Houses
Plan to spend your Saturday morning to afternoon hopping around to different open houses. Typically, houses that are offering open houses are newer listings. I’ve found that houses that are sitting on the market are usually there for a reason; significant damage, asking too much money, bad location, ect. So, scoop up those fresh listings and go to as many as you can in the first couple weeks. This will help you narrow down your criteria if you haven’t already. Since we were moving out of the city into a entirely new neighborhood it also helped us understand what the different neighborhoods were like.
Write a Compelling Offer
When it came to writing the offer, we had to be very strategic! Our real estate agency shared from his experience some of the ways to make your offer win. The primary strategies include: offering over asking price, waiving some contingencies, and a quick closing. We offered all three and also let the sellers leave any items in the house they wanted. Since we’ve done house cleanouts before it didn’t seem like a big deal. I’ve also bought houses “as is” before and dumped tens of thousands into renovating them. Since we were looking for a fixer upper, it also didn’t seem like a big deal to waive inspection contingency.
We ended up getting our offer accepted over one that was a little higher than ours because we waived the contingencies. The sellers wanted a quick and easy closing so they went with us! If you do end up waiving contingencies, make sure you love the house! We had a moment when we realized there was no backing out and it was nerve wracking. There were so many unknowns and we were either stuck with the house or out a large deposit. Since we had done a lot of work to figure out what we wanted, the house felt right and we were thrilled. Just because the market is “hot” does not mean you have to compromise. Be patient and thoughtful. When the right house hits the market – then be confident!
My disclosure when writing this post is that the real estate market is very different across the country. Heed the advice of your local real estate agent always!! They will know the price comps are selling for, the heat of the market, and tips for negotiating in a competitive market.