It’s really exciting when we decide to buy a new house. Especially when we get the green light from the bank, it’s GO time. Hubby and I were kids again. It was like choosing really cool toys in the biggest toy store EVER!
It means so much more though, it’s a huge milestone to reach this level of adulthood. The new chapter begins. Curb your enthusiasm, not everyone share’s your excitement. You’ll still have to face your tribe. The same people who were there for your wedding, first baby, that baby who is now old enough to have an opinion, are waiting to give you real estate advice. Let me explain, and give you some pointers to avoid “TUNNEL VISION”.
First, have a strategy meeting with your husband about what YOU are looking for in a home. Get on the same page as a COUPLE. You might be surprised that you have differing ideas. An oversized garage that would fit a pool table wasn’t at the top of my list, and a Zillow Digs $40K kitchen didn’t make it to the top of his. Then it happened, we saw THE house, we loved it, the sun parted as we looked at each other and said” This is the one!” (No lie)
I emphasize YOU and COUPLE because you will be tempted to bring your tribe along, even the Chihuahua. No, No, No! Especially to the Chihuahua. You value mom and dad’s opinion, they have experience. Your cousin is a counter tops pro who chisels wooden horse sculptures. Your brother is the best accountant out there. HOWEVER, what happens is: Your dad will tell you that all the sheetrock needs to be replaced and will cost thousands. Mom complains that she hates dark colors. Your cousin thinks you need granite counter tops. Your brother tells you that the market value is WRONG and to offer $30K under the list price, then your Chihuahua pees on the carpet. If you have a teen daughter, she will find every popped nail, claim the master bedroom as her own, start planning parties. They will all think it is too expensive, and you can’t afford it. Are you catching my drift? Dad tinkered around the family home but hasn’t made any real repairs in 30 years. Mom loves fuchsia and olive green. Your brother, the accountant is a bachelor, and the most frugal person you know. He is a DIY type guy who slaps up tin foil as back splash in the kitchen. This goes double for the guys at the office, church, and PTA meetings.
They all mean to help, but let’s talk about the guys at the office. They will share “experiences,” and some downright horror stories. It’s guaranteed that the fellas are going to give him some “sound advice” as how to work the “apparent hustling Realtor,” and how to talk down the seller on price. Your mom’s book club will give you 50 different ways on getting the best interest rate. The endless advice doesn’t come from one source or clique, it comes from all of them.
You found the house of your dreams but your excitement turns to dread and fear. Did we make the right decision? What will they say? Here’s the deal, when my husband and I got married, we invited who we wanted to invite. We paid for our wedding. It was OUR day. It’s the same idea for your home. YOU are the ones who will be living there. You’re financing it, you get to pick the paint colors. It’s nice to get feedback, but the ultimate decision is yours.
Buying a house is a BIG deal. Your family, friends, and the guys at the office know it too. You have now visited 15 houses and it’s all the same. “I don’t like the paint, the carpet is HIDEOUS!” “Why did they use blue in the bathroom?” “Is that dry rot or peeling paint?” “Can you REALLY afford this?” You now have ‘tunnel vision,’ and are trying to find what pleases your tribe instead of you. You’re in the blender of looking for flaws instead of possibilities.
My suggestion, go to dinner alone with your spouse. After a couple glasses of wine, swing back to what you are itching to talk about, and re-evaluate. Gather the listings of the houses YOU as a COUPLE like. Then have a meeting with your Realtor. Believe it or not folks it’s what they do, find the house that meets your budget and lifestyle. This isn’t the first time that had to ‘meet the family.’ Dad might be helping with the down payment, but he is not living there. This is all yours baby.
Invite the tribe before closing, but after the inspection. You had a professional inspector check the whole house, so when dad says it needs a new heating exchange system (I don’t even know what that is) you can say, “Actually, I had that checked.” When mom opens her mouth about color, you stop her cold with a quip, “I was thinking about Olive Green but not sure yet.”
We were very fortunate in having a Realtor who worked with us to help us repair our credit months before we were ready. She explained the process in detail and made sure we were following what she was saying. We nodded our heads thoughtfully like we understood, but we were faking it. Finally we felt lost and told her “we don’t understand xyz.” She re-explained until we did. It’s important to be open with your Realtor about expectations, and what you don’t understand. Your Realtor should be comfortable with telling you “not happening, and this is why.” Open dialogue and realistic understanding of the market goes a long way.
People will throw out advice and words that sound like a foreign language. They tell horror stories because they didn’t understand all the terms and conditions. As a result, they weren’t happy. It’s important to have a basic understanding of the documents you will be signing. I am not saying take a class in real-estate, but a first time buyer class is a good idea. Absolutely get clarification if you do not understand a term. It’s your Realtor’s job to help you make good decisions for your future. It’s good to trust people, but it’s even better to know what you are doing, and what’s good for you.
The blog was written by Laura Welch, mom of 4, 2x home buyer, and advisor to Realtors who don't understand why the buyer can't make up their minds. Edited by MJ Quay, Realtor, who wants to know what it takes to help buyers make up their minds.