Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Buying a New Home - Update and Tips

Well we had our 2nd showing on a home today and we've put in an offer. After some haggling we were able to reach an agreement and we now have a house. Of course there are conditions that need to be met, like financing, etc and those will be removed by June 19th if all goes well.

It's not the best home. It's not the dream home. Neither is it the worst home, the ugliest home, the dump. And believe me there were lots of those out there. As much as you can save money on a fixer upper, I'm sorry stuck in the 70's style, gold shag carpet, harvest green appliances, pink tub, toilet and sink, bright purple and green flowered mactac papered kitchen walls... it's just too much for one woman to handle.

The house we've chosen needs some fixing but it's completely livable the way it is until we can afford to fix stuff. Plus it comes with a pool. Wahoo!

So here are some tips today re buying your own house.

  • Do not try to see too many homes.
  • Make a list of absolute "must haves" followed by a list of "would like" but is negotiable. Narrow your home choices down that way. Viewing homes that do not fit into your needs wastes your time, the realtor's, the home owner's and may sway you into choosing a home that really doesn't work for you. Like if it has a really great pool in the backyard but the kitchen is the size of a pin and you have 5 kids. That pool is going to be great in the summer but what about the winter?
  • Take your list with you. Make a note of the room sizes, locations, bathrooms, layout etc. You will be surprised at the little details you can't remember when you get home... like where the laundry room is. We completely missed that on the first viewing. We couldn't remember if it was a tub and shower in the en suite bathroom or just a shower.
  • Look at the ceiling, always a good guide if there was any water damage.
  • check in to corners of the closets, a great place for mold.
  • Try to look past the home owner's decor and furniture. Can you picture your stuff in it? This can be especially hard if a home has been staged. That lovely rented furniture won't be staying. Will the house still look so nice when you've got your own perhaps rather dated or rather worn furniture in it?
  • Scout out the neighbourhood. What do the other homes look like? Are they well kept or rundown?
  • If you can, drive through the neighbourhood at different times of the day. What is the noise level like in the morning vs the night, the traffic flow, etc.
  • Take a walk through the neighbourhood and see what is has to offer. Are there parks around, where is the closest school. Is it a good school.
On a second showing, things to look out for:

  • check where the telephone and cable outlets are. How many are they, are they in a convenient location.
  • Check room measurements, bring a tape measure. Are the room sizes quoted accurate? Will your furniture fit. For example: we measured our washer and dryer to ensure they'd fit into the closet where the current laundry hook ups are. They do.
  • Where are the crawl space and attic access (if you have them).
  • What condition are the appliances in. Are they included in the sale?
  • Make a note of anything extra you want to ask for if you make an offer. Do the living room curtains look like they only would belong in that house. In our home we have a rather large picture window and we are leaving the curtains behind because they are very long and obviously were made specifically for the size of the window. Don't hesitate to ask for extras, just be prepared to pay a little.
Well, those are my tips for today. It's getting rather late and that's all I can think of for now.



  1. Thanks for all the info on buying a house. More please...

  2. Ahem...both our current and previous houses had pink tub, toilet and sink. Just what are you implying? (JK)

    Not only that, but the living room had light blue carpeting. Light blue. With eight children. I say "had" light blue carpeting, because it certainly isn't light blue anymore, no matter how many times I shampoo it.

    I hated making the commitment to purchase a house that wasn't *exactly* what I was looking for. I had to console myself that there was no such thing as *exactly*, and even if I designed my own dream home, there would be things in it I'd wish I'd done differently.

    You sound like you have a good attitude about the whole affair. I am sure you will be fine.

  3. These are such great tips...and some things I hadn't even thought of!! We're in the process of figuring out if we can sell our home so we can buy a bigger home. It's a buyer's market right now but I'm not sure we'll get a good enough amount of money in selling right now.

    The real estate agents also won't really work with us right now until we get a pre-approval letter for financing so we're working on that right now. UGH! I hate those agents who won't even call you back or give you the time of day until you have that freakin approval letter in hand. I feel like that's burning bridges in advance, kwim? And I'm not even asking to see the homes, I'm just calling to see if they're still active since most of the homes right now are being swept up within the first few hours of coming on the market....and half of the agents don't even bother to call back, which I think is just rude.

    Okay, sorry for the's just such a headache!!! But I love these tips and I've bookmarked this page so I can come back to it in the future!

  4. Great information! Thanks for posting it. Boy, that sounds real general. How about: I will recommend your site to others. Now do I sound like a spammer?

  5. I love the list. I wish I stuck with mine. From day one, I said I did not want a fixer. And guess what we ended up buying? And guess who's house still needs help?


  6. I love reading about people's experiences buying houses. You are spot-on with your tips for things to do and look for during the process.

    When I was looking for a house (with the help of my 16-year old daughter), our criteria was cheap, liveable immediately, 2 bedrooms at least, in a certain high school district, and a separate apartment or mother-in-law suite for my 20-year old daughter. After hunting for several months and seeing places that were complete doo-doo wrecks, we settled on the ugly little stucco house. Twenty years later I'm still renovating and repairing problems in a 1930's "fixer"...but it's my fixer.


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