Nate and I bought our first house on May 1 of 2012 and closed the last week of July. We looked at 7 houses in our price range our first weekend and were so disheartened. One house we looked at didn’t have a kitchen. A KITCHEN! Another place had a toilet in the basement. Just a toilet, not an actual bathroom. Slim pickings is putting it lightly. Nate and I thought we might have to put our house-buying plans on hold. As we were leaving our last showing with our realtor, we drove past a house that was more of what I had in mind. I pointed to it and said, “That, that’s what I want.” Nate gently explained that I might have to change my expectations.
I grew up with a mom who taught me that if you just keep trying, you’ll find a way to get what you want. Being honest, I wanted a nicer house than what our realtor was telling us we could afford and I knew if I just kept looking hard enough, I knew I could find it. The very next day (lucky break), a house that seemed more of what I was looking for dropped the asking price by $30,000. We called our realtor early the next morning to set up the showing, went to see it that night, and put in an offer at 10 PM that very evening. Within the week, they accepted our offer.
Our excitement about finding the right house for us was through the roof. I was right, naturally. We found what was a dream of a house and I knew it would be perfect for us once we could get our hands on it. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise once the craziness of the negotiation wore off and sheer terror set in. Buying a house is not just purchasing a house. It’s committing to live somewhere for an extended time. It’s not quitting your job even if you’re unhappy. It’s working extra if you need to. It’s doing things you don’t want to do because you have more responsibilities. It’s everything I didn’t know it could be. It was really scary.
Here are some things I learned along the way:
1. Shorten that to do list. I was list making like it was my job before closing. Nate and I are doers so surely we could accomplish everything we planned during move-in week. Like I said in this post, we’re still learning that every home project takes forever and a day. We honestly thought we were going to paint the whole house, install laminate flooring in the downstairs, tile the kitchen floors, replace the French Door, and do all sorts of small repairs on top of actually moving. I also had other designy things on my list like painting the kitchen cabinets and installing board and batten. My mom tried to warn me that we might be taking on too much, but I thought she was underestimating my dedication. I was wrong. Moms are always right, I should have known. I think if Nate and I wanted to, we could have accomplished most things on that list, but it wouldn’t have been healthy. We needed time to adjust, to breath, to acclimate. We realized that partly into week one and sat down to talk about what we needed to take off the list to give me time to get used to everything.
2. Prioritize your goals. Yes, I still should have had tile the floors on my overall to-do list, but it shouldn’t have been on the week one list. I wish I would have made a timeline of projects and thought about what needed accomplished in week one, month one, or year one. I think knowing I still had them on the list, but was not even going to visit the idea until a certain time would have taken some pressure off. I felt like I needed to do ALL THE THINGS as soon as I moved in.
3. Finish one space. Think about what room is going to make you most comfortable. For me, it was our bedroom. Nate wanted to move our furniture into the guest bedroom because that’s where it would ultimately live once we bought new dressers, but I insisted we keep them in our room for now. I actually cried about it. Nate’s reasons were logical. Why put the furniture in our bedroom when we were just going to move it in the near future? My reasons were emotional. I was having trouble adjusting to being in a new town and a new place, I just needed something to feel as normal as possible on the first night. We set up our dressers, put our clothes away, and tried to make it feel as homey as possible. It definitely helped me feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar place.
Our moving experience was difficult for me. I love our new house and I feel so blessed to have it, but it was a huge adjustment that I just didn’t anticipate. I think that’s the hardest part. You imagine yourself being so excited about buying a house that you don’t anticipate the stress of it. Hopefully, these tips can help you avoid some of the stress that I had as a first time home owner.
For the experienced home owners, do you have any advice or tips for someone looking to buy a house? Can you relate to any of the feelings I went through when you bought your house? Share in the comments.