Finding your first home isn’t easy. Nothing about it is easy. Well, deciding you want to move out of your parents house is easy… because every one eventually wants that. But that’s just the beginning. Now you’re looking for a home. Your home. Maybe it’s a starter place, maybe it’s a forever home contender… regardless it’s not a simple process or even a quick one.
When my husband and I started to look for our first home, our forever home, we weren’t even married yet. Ideals were high. You know in your head what you want. But what you learn, as you go through all of these other houses, is that your “ideal” isn’t out there. I’ll spare you stories of some of the junk we saw that people wanted top dollar for and just let you know that it took almost an entire year before we found something we could work with. At that point “ideals” had been thrown out the window and we just wanted something clean that we could easily add-on to in the future. That was in 2004 and we’ve been renovating and adding- on ever since.
I’m certainly not old (right?!) but I feel like at this point I’ve seen things and can give some decent advice. No matter what the initial cost is, owning your own home is an investment. You don’t want to screw this up.
Take your time. Do not jump on the first place you see and think you love. Look at the ceilings (Is it a drop ceiling? Why? Look under that thing for water damage. I can’t tell you how many houses we saw with water damage to their ceilings that were just covered up), walls, floors, windows, roof, doors, cabinets… every.single.thing. Why? Because if it needs replaced that’s more money. Maybe more money than you have or are willing to spend. It doesn’t matter how much you love something if it eventually collapses all around you and becomes a money pit.
Look at it twice. Or three times. We went back to one place four times even. We brought our parents, a contractor friend, etc. Others can see through your shiny-eyed “get me out of my parents place” gaze and notice things you may not have. Or, even better, give insight as to what the potential (or lack of) the place has.
Ask the right questions. Do not direct them at your Realtor. If a neighbor is outside and looks friendly say hi.. have a chat. Go into a local business and shop, ask the employees what they think of the area. Look at the schools, crime rates, the homes that surround the home you’re looking at. Eye up every thing. If it seems too good to be true find out why. It’s not rude and you owe it to yourself and your family to be smart.
It’s okay to start small. Before we went looking I wanted a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom (or more) house with a finished game room in the basement. We looked at those. Cosmetically they looked great but when you got in the thick of it all things really needed replaced, and badly. We ended up with a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom that was solid. Oh, and that bathroom only had a bathtub. It was the first project.
Since that first project of simply redoing our only bathroom we’ve added on a huge addition to the back of the house which expanded the kitchen as well as added on a master bedroom, master bathroom and a full attic and basement above and below the newness. We’ve also had to redo the steps into the basement and put in another full bathroom. Our next project is the garage of my husbands dreams and the pool of mine!
What I’m saying is renovations are going to be constant. Get that in your head now. From an older home to a brand new, custom built one – you need to be ready for what will eventually happen. Save your money for your sunny day! Get what you want and never, ever settle! We ate cereal and noodles when we first moved into our house so we could save for the big renovations we wanted. We never regretted any of it. Not even once.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.