Bryan and I have been looking for a house for about three years. Yes, three YEARS. Except for one awful period where we “accidentally” bought a house and then panicked and bailed, we haven’t been that close to settling on one. I never thought it would take us so long to find something, but then again, I based my home-buying experience on HGTV, where they see houses, buy houses, and fully renovate houses in a clean one-hour block.
Our experiences searching have brought us closer and taught us quite a bit about house-hunting, which I share here boiled down into three important points.
- You are not on HGTV.
I know, this one seems fairly obvious, but I think something needs to be said about the divide between actual home buying and the house hunting shows that we are typically watching. Again, the process is a lot more nuanced and time-intensive than it seems on television. There is no perfect realtor who is going to instantly walk into a house and be able to know exactly what is wrong with it, have a vision of how to make it the most fabulous house, and be able to come in way under your budget. This just doesn’t exist in reality. I’m not sure if some of those shows are scripted, but either way, it’s important to remember that you are dealing with real people, real situations, and real life off-screen. Reality television isn’t always real life.
- There is no “perfect” house.
Unless you end up building your dream home yourself, you are never going to find exactly what you want. You will always have to compromise. What’s up to you to decide is if you are willing to live with it, pay to have it changed, change it yourself, or keep looking. Unless you are the least picky person ever and you absolutely don’t care what your house looks like, there are going to be things that you don’t like about the house you buy. Not just that you don’t necessarily love, but things you actually dislike and want to change. That’s reality, but that also might be half the fun if you are into renovating or want to try it.
- It is a cutthroat competition.
This is by far the thing that was the most surprising to me. I imagined us looking at a few houses, deliberating over coffee for a few days, and then making an offer at a slow and reasonable pace. Nope!
If you are looking in a city or town that is even somewhat populated, the real estate game is an intense one. If you are looking in the spring, summer, or fall, prepare to be super decisive, pay above list price, and see dozens of houses. This was TERRIFYING for me at first, as both Bryan and I can be extremely indecisive. It felt like we were never ever going to get a house when we started looking. By the time we had called to set up showings, the houses were already sold and off the market. It was very disheartening and it felt like we were racing against other house hunters. This rush led us to buy the previously mentioned house before we had a chance to really think about our decision and realize that it was not the right house for us.
Has anyone had similar experiences? Do you have any beacons of hope to share with us? What are some other things that surprised you about home shopping?