5 Tips for Buying The Right Home For Your Family
The beginning of this month marked nine years of living in our little 1929 home. That sounds crazy to me! To think that when we purchased our first home nine years ago, we didn't have any kids, or cats, or clue what we would be doing nine years later! The kids came along about five years later, but the cats came along only days after we moved in. 😂 Let's be real here, people: priorities. (Kidding, I love my kids more than my cats. Like a LOT more.)
Over the last nine years, we have changed a lot in our home. Almost everything has been painted, floors have been replaced in both bathrooms, a wall was knocked down between our dining room and kitchen, WE GOT A DISHWASHER (yes that is in all caps because it's that amazing), a new railing was put on our front porch, and our back deck was completely replaced. Man, now that I list some of the things we've done I really need to go back and find our "before" photos! I think they're buried somewhere on a hard drive from long ago.
Thinking back to when T.J. and I were looking to buy a home, we only had a few "must-haves" on our list. And I think if we were to ever move from our little house (*gasp* don't worry neighbors, we're not!!), I'm pretty sure my list of "buying the right home" for our family would be very similar to nine years ago.
If you're currently looking or thinking about buying a home for your family, here are five tips to help make the process a little bit easier and more enjoyable. Below is a list of the five things we kept in mind while looking for our first home.
I've also included a little cheat sheet checklist for you to download and save to your phone for when you're out viewing a house and need to keep the essential things in mind!
1. Find a REALTOR you trust and are comfortable with.
This seems like a no-brainer, but you guys, it's so important. After all you'll be talking about all kinds of things with this person. Buying a house is a big deal! Being able to talk about money, mortgages, why you do or don't need so many bedrooms, and if the school district is right for your family matters! So do a little research and find someone that's the right fit for you.
If you're local, we would highly recommend our friend Andrew L. Welk, REALTOR. You can find him on Instagram or Facebook!
2. Buy a house you are comfortable with. Specifically, the price point.
Buying a house for you and your family should be as enjoyable of a process as possible. And almost nothing will keep you awake at night, or feeling uncertain about all of it, like settling on a house that's not within your price range. Whatever your price range is, you must make sure you're going to be comfortable with that monthly mortgage payment. Buying a house is a huge investment! Again, this is where a REALTOR you trust and are pleased with can help even more. They can guide you to make the right decisions for your family, and won't show you anything that's out of your range. Of course, they want you to be happy and comfortable with your purchase too!
"Buying a home you are comfortable with is so important. This can be location, school district, but most importantly price point. Buyers need to be comfortable with that monthly payment. That's why it is so important that the REALTOR and buyer lender have excellent communication." - Andrew L. Welk, REALTOR
When T.J. and I bought our first house nine years ago, ours was priced right in the middle of our range, around 135k. We felt comfortable with the monthly payments, and because of that, we were even able to refinance our mortgage down to 15 years, instead of 30, a few years ago.
3. Get pre-approved.
I know, I know, you'd rather just start looking online at amazing houses in established neighborhoods. Ohhh a pool! Within walking distance to every park ever?! SHIPLAP IN ALL THE ROOMS?!?! It's meant to be!
And hey, maybe it is. Perhaps you'll get pre-approved and can totally go buy it! But it can be a little deflating when you realize a house like that isn't within your budget. So, instead of riding a roller coaster of emotions, find out what you're pre-approved for and then go from there.
There are great houses for your family in your price range! That's part of what makes it a great home for your family.
4. If you have kids, involve them in the process early on.
If you're serious about house buying, take them to showings with you! It always amazes me how intuitive kids can be when involved in big decisions. Ask them how the house makes them feel, or what they love or don't love about it.
Now obviously, if your 4-year-old says they love the house and want to live in the backyard treehouse forever before you've even seen the inside, or that they hate it because it's not the house they're currently comfortable with... take it with a grain of salt. Kids are still kids. June thinks that spiders are "just so cute and adorable!"... so clearly kids opinions aren't the be-all-end-all, but they might surprise you with how they'll help guide your decisions on a home one way or another.
5. Know the difference between cosmetic fixes and renovations.
If you're like T.J. and I, you love the character that comes with older homes. We knew from the minute we started looking at homes that we wanted character. Which is exactly why we were both like "Did you see that front door????" when we walked through our house for the first time.
But we also knew the difference between cosmetic fixes -- painting, ripping out carpets, new fixtures, updated hardware, new blinds, etc -- and full on renovations -- knocking out walls, replacing the roof, paving a new driveway and finishing the basement.
Cosmetic fixes might be started and finished in a single weekend with a trip to Home Depot and a little TLC. But, renovations can often take over your house for entire seasons and are a significant investment compared to the cosmetic fixes. Respectively, either will impact your daily activities in that potential house drastically. So know that up front. Be honest with yourself and your REALTOR when looking at a home, and if it requires cosmetic changes or renovations to live there.
As someone who loves to dream and make old things new again, I can tend to lump the two categories together. But they're so different! I walk into a house, and I'm like "Did you see that crown molding!? Can you imagine this whole room painted white?! And refinished floors upstairs?" And then T.J. is like "Babe, there are no stairs. All the windows are missing. I can literally see through the roof." 😂
I'm certainly not saying "don't buy a house that requires renovations." A house like that sounds exciting to me! But remember that the goal is to buy the right house for your family, not anyone else's. #wecantallbejoannagains #unfortunately
I asked our friend Andrew if he had any advice for first time home buyers and he said this, "It's a marathon and not a sprint, so don't jump on the first house you see. Your REALTOR is here to make this as stress-free as possible."
My brother and his family purchased and moved into the house next to us this past summer, and so all of these tips are fresh on my mind as I know they were keeping these same things in mind while finding the right first home for their family! Also, I am going to share a bunch of before photos of their house soon on the blog. Because they're our literal neighbors, their home looks similar to ours and yet is laid out a little differently. I can't wait to share about all the cosmetic changes they're making, and maybe some kitchen renovations in the future, with you guys!
I hope this post is helpful and encouraging to you as you look to buy the right home for your family. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Andrew L. Welk on his Facebook page, or leave a comment below for T.J. or me! And as promised, here's your free download for you to keep on your phone!