I learned so much from buying a house I feel it is my duty to share these learnings with all of you! The fact that I was able to buy a house at the age of 30 while also being single was such an amazing triumph.
A while back, I had set a life goal for myself to own my own house by the time I was 30!! Never did I imagine though that this would actually happen!
Buying a house can be one of the hardest and most challenging experiences a person can go through in life. But it can also be one of the most rewarding. I consider myself quite lucky as my experience went rather smoothly in comparison to others. However, that’s not to say I didn’t walk away without learning anything. I actually learned quite a bit and hope the lessons I’m about to share with you will help you wherever you are in the house buying process.
Let’s dive in shall we…
Lesson #1: Know Your Market!
First thing I learned when I started the process of buying a house was to make sure I understood the housing market. Of course, the area of good ol’ Texas I was searching in was insane at the time and still is for that matter.
It’s what people would call a “sellers market”. This means the sellers are getting either their asking price or above it. This isn’t a great position for the buyers to be in, of course. But if you go in knowing this information, you can be better prepared when coming up with your budget and what range you are willing to stay in.
My parents live in Frisco, Texas and I work in the next town over. So I obviously wanted to stay in the area.
Frisco, Texas is one of the fastest growing cities in America. The school districts are top notch and new businesses are moving into the area like flocks of birds. Such companies as Toyota (ever heard of ‘em?), Liberty Mutual, Jamba Juice (just to name a few 😉) are moving their headquarters to our neck of the woods.
So when I first met with the real estate agents who helped my parents buy their house back in 2012, they warned me it would be a tough, long process. Boy, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!!
Lesson #2: Know Your Must Haves
I had been looking around on various real estate websites first to see what was out there. My favorite website to search was definitely Zillow.com. I loved their map feature as it made it so easy to search for houses in your desired location and in your price range.
I realized quickly I should make a list of must haves. This was probably the most important step I took throughout the process of buying a house. By creating this list it helped me identify certain things I was absolutely not willing to compromise on. Here’s my list:
- Must Haves:
- Location: Be in the Frisco area and not just any part of Frisco but close to my parents.
- Budget: Being single, I definitely had a set price range and could not afford to exceed that price range. Knowing your budget range is important when going into the process of buying a house.
- Size: At least 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms but under 2,000 sq. ft.
- No stairs!!! One-story house was an absolute must. Given my Lupus, dealing with stairs can be challenging.
After my initial meeting with my realtors to go over my list, they set me up on their search portal and soon after the options started rolling in.
It was slow at first but I finally found one I wanted to go look at. I was sooo excited! My mom came with me to look at the house. I wanted someone with me who had gone through the process of buying a house – something I recommend to anyone buying a house!.
My excitement quickly eroded though when we pulled into the neighborhood and saw the house which was pretty run down. It wasn’t the one for me…onto the next!
Lesson #3: Don’t Get Discouraged!
Here is where needing patience comes in. And I am NOT a very patient person, LOL. There hadn’t been a single house I was interested in going to see since that first one had come up in a while. Three weeks or so had gone by and I was starting to wonder if it was going to be impossible for me to find a house matching my criteria. But I had to have patience. The right one was out there for me!
Then this AH-MAZING house popped up into my inbox one night after work. I quickly texted my agent and said I wanted to go see it!
The next day we had a showing scheduled for 12pm. My realtor called me in the morning informing me there were already 15 showings scheduled and 10 offers made. I was devastated!!! I wanted to back out of the appointment. But she encouraged me to keep my appointment.
Immediately I knew I wanted the house. It was exactly what I was looking for. It checked all the boxes on my list. So after about 15-20 minutes inside the house, we walked out and agreed we would put an offer in. Now buckle up folks because the next part is the wildest part of the ride!!
Lesson #4 (The MOST Important Lesson): Not all buyers are created equal.
I knew my bid would not be the highest given my price range and so we had to get creative here. I had to position myself uniquely and set myself a part somehow from the other buyers.
My awesome real estate agents came up with a newer strategy in the house buying process…write a letter to the homeowners!
That’s right folks, a real “Dear Diary” kind of moment happens now between seller and buyer when you are buying a house. You basically are telling the sellers why you deserve the house over other buyers. I couldn’t believe they were making me do this! But at the end of the day, I was willing to do whatever it was going to take to get me that house!
Prior to buying a house I had prepared a letter that could be tweaked to speak to the things I liked about whatever house it was I was putting an offer on.
The letter I wrote reflected upon things I liked about the house as well as personal insights about myself that I hoped would make the sellers relate to me, empathize with me, and help them make a personal connection to me.
I shared intimate details about myself that I normally wouldn’t share with just anybody. Some of the things I included were having lupus, hoping someday to find someone to marry and have a family with, and how hard it was for me to have the courage to live on my own. But I was willing to share whatever was necessary as this was just another step in the process of buying a house!
While this may seem like an odd step in the buying a house process, I would highly recommend it!!!
Lesson #5: NEVER underestimate yourself!!
About a month earlier, I had just started working at a new job and was walking into a team happy hour. As I was walking in I was signing my offer letter!
I was so nervous and excited the entire night. It was all I could think about. I was showing my coworkers pictures of the house, telling them about my crazy experience, and was keeping a close eye on my phone.
At about 7:30pm I saw I had a voicemail from my realtors telling me to CALL THEM ASAP!!! Next thing I knew they were on the phone with me telling me the homeowners ACCEPTED MY OFFER!!!! This couldn’t be happening, I must have misunderstood what they said. There was dead silence on the phone until they asked if I was still on the line and I shrieked out and said “REALLY???”. I WAS GOING TO BE A HOMEOWNER?!?!
My realtors proceeded to tell me I was chosen after 49 showings of the house and 31 other offers were made! Yes, you read that right – 31 other offers!!!
They said at the end of the day, even though I was not the highest bidder (as expected), what set me a part from the rest was my letter. The sellers said they could tell I really wanted the house and I would take pride in ownership. I couldn’t believe that my letter is what sealed the deal for me. It was unbelievable!!! This is why I highly recommend the letter writing strategy!
A rush of feelings came over me. I was scared, excited, proud, in shock, and most important of all, I was ready!
I was so glad I trusted my gut instincts on how I felt about the house and was even happier that I listened to Wendy when she told me to keep my appointment.
I closed on my house on April 10, 2015 and well the rest is history! When I tell people about my story, they still can’t believe it. It’s a pretty great story and an experience I will always remember! 😊