Before I became a writer, I thought I might sell real estate. I learned just enough from being a homeowner to think I knew what’s what. While we’re good homeowners, the lessons we’ve learned over the years is that home ownership isn’t for everyone. I’d much rather write about homes, than help other get in over their heads. Here’s my top five tips:
5. Research, Research, Research
Not much of a stretch from a writer, huh? However, I’m constantly surprised at other homeowners’ excessive trust in their agents. If you don’t do any of your own work, you can find yourself in a home, or a neighborhood that’s a bad fit. Agents aren’t mind readers, either. They can’t answer questions you don’t ask.
4. Expect the Unexpected
We bought a home with a gorgeous, 60+ year old elm tree in the back yard. Three years later, it had split to the root. The tree removal service told us we were one thunderstorm away from having it crash into our bedroom. Every other homeowner we’ve talked to had similar stories. There are suprises no one expects. Don’t just budget financially; plan for the stress and the shock.
3. Know Thy Neighborhood
We’d lived in our neighborhood for years before purchasing. We knew the houses and the people. We’re in the minority though. If we’d bought when we first got married, we might have been surprised when the city rezoned the school around the corner to administrative offices. Because we were tuned in, we knew what was coming.
2. Live Below Your Means
Our agent was shocked to see how much we money we made at closing. We bought a house priced far under what might be expected for our income. However, we knew we wanted a life more than just financing home ownership. Not following the formula meant we survived financial challenges later. When others faced foreclosure in 2008, we weathered the storm.
1. Take the Plunge!
Our biggest lesson is from our mistake. We waited too long to buy a home. We kept believing that we needed more money or the best circumstances for buying a house. Like having kids, there’s just never a “right” time. Granted, it gave us more time to follow all the other tips on the list, but it also delayed meeting our goals. Don’t wait for “perfect”.
We love being homeowners, and have learned our lessons along the way. Following basic tips can make all the difference in having success owning a home.