- I don't get excited about owning a new house until the keys are in my hands. After 14 offers it was hard to be excited about anything because the deals fell through so often it was better to not get set on a certain house until we actually owned it.
- Be patient. A lot has changed since we bought our last house over a decade ago. The mountain of paperwork, the documentation, the process of buying a short sale or repo house which is common now, all mean that the entire process of buying a house takes much longer than before and there are ALWAYS glitches that come up.
- Know what you are doing if you want to buy a fixer upper. We offered on quite a few fixers because they were so cheap but even though the hubby and I built a small house from the ground up years ago and know how to do fixer upper repairs, we were SO HAPPY that we could move into our new house and do no work. So, so happy. I think when we were making the offers we thought we wouldn't mind doing a lot more physical labor and wouldn't mind living in a half-finished house but with age comes wisdom (and a certain reluctance to do hard physical labor and live in a dusty, messy half-finished house for months on end).
- Have a separate fund for your new house (not your emergency fund and not your down payment fund). For the past week money has been streaming out of our savings account like water through a leaky boat. There are SO MANY things you need to buy for a new place (nails to hang pictures, pillows that match the sofa, deposits for utilities, etc) that it has basically decimated our emergency fund so, note to self, next time build up a separate fund for new house expenses.
- It pays to be handy or have handy friends. There were a lot of things we got free or provided for ourselves that other people would probably need to pay for. Among these things: appliance delivery (free from our cousin), hooking up the gas dryer (hubby and I did it ourselves), replacing a broken light switch (hubby did this), moving everything to our new house (hubby and I did this), etc. If you can't or don't want to do these things for yourself you may need even more money on hand to pay for these things.
- I LOVE the Goodwill and the Dollar Store. We bought a ton of things for our new place at these two stores. Walmart came in a close third. After selling nearly everything we owned over a year ago and realizing all of the cute things I bought at Macy's and other department stores (home decor, sheets, dishes, etc) were worth pennies on the dollar at our garage sales, I will only buy used or super cheap things from now on.
- It is SOOOO nice to move when you don't have a lot of junk. Because we did pare down our stuff when we decided to travel and store what was left in a 10x10 storage unit, moving was much easier since we had much less stuff to move. I've known people who have moved their entire household including 30 years of stuff to a new place and years later they still aren't completely unpacked.
- When you move to a new place, it really helps to ask people (like our cousins, our realtor, and our new friends who live in the area) about local stuff that may be different than where you came from. On the second day in our house a big bug walked across the kitchen and I nearly freaked out (I don't like bugs). I immediately called our realtor and she said it was common for bugs to try to come in where it was cool during the hot summer so to spray the house for bugs and that would take care of the problem. In cold and rainy Washington we had the occasional spider but never any bugs so I got hubby on bug spray detail ASAP. Now today I plan to ask the neighbor about the watering system. It rains so much in Washington that we didn't water outside very often but now we have an entire irrigation system that seems pretty complicated so I need to figure out how the thing works as our landscaping looks pretty parched.
- Location is important. When we were desperate and frustrated with the home buying process we made offers on a couple of places that were in less than stellar neighborhoods and a couple of places that were pretty far away from where we wanted to be. I'm glad those offers fell through because I have now realized how important a good neighborhood and a good, close-to-where-we-want-to-be location is. Plus this will also save us a lot of gas and mileage on our car over the years we live in this house.
- Finally, decide if you really want or need to buy a house. While I think our new house is wonderful, I kind of miss the freedom that renting affords (plus the lower cost with not having to pay utilities, maintenance, etc). It will be much harder for us to pick up and leave if we want to do any extended travel now that we own a home but at this point, hubby wanted to feel more settled so buying a house did this for him. I guess this point comes down to where you are in your life and what your plans are for the foreseeable future.
Overall I am really happy with our new house and how things have worked out.
p.s. I told hubby that July will be a "no spend" month since we have been hemorrhaging cash for the past couple of weeks!