We had been looking and thinking about moving for over a year now. I think I first started looking at listings as a distraction during wedding planning when I felt myself getting too obsessed with the Big Day. I had always loved the idea of building a custom home, but I thought it was too far out of reach.
I started by casually looking on realtor.com and local MLS listing sites - we didn't have a real budget in mind (Mistake #1) and weren't really sure what we wanted or were looking for (Mistake #2) and we really didn't have a set timeline in mind (Mistake #3). However, I think all of our mistakes ended up leading us to a house that I think will be perfect for us for a long time.
Let's talk about these big bad "Mistakes" and what they meant to us.
Mistake #1: No real budget in mind - This meant that we were looking at houses anywhere from $100,000 below our (later determined) budget to many many MANY hundreds of thousands of dollars over our budget. I think this helped us because we were able to see features in the pricey homes that might not be standard in homes in a more modest budget, while at the same time seeing how homes can vary so much for the cost.
|Showcase Home - beautiful but with a dose of quirk.|
|It was okay, but as the man said - "Not worth moving for."|
|I didn't love the front elevation, but the inside was just lovely.|
Mistake #2: No idea what we really wanted - This became much more refined over time.. but when the process first began, our main goal was something bigger. No specific square footage. No room requirements, really. Just bigger.
Having no set requirements meant we were all over the place. We toured lake houses, looked at acerage online, researched neighborhoods in 3 different towns, and quickly learned what types of houses were No's and what equaled a Hell-No. I also quickly figured out key terms that got the Man interested, and that made him veto immediately.
"Waterfront" = "When can we tour? How much is it?"
"Acerage" = "Can it get fast speed internet?"
"Older", "Remodeled", or "Victorian" = "Nope. Nope, nope, nope."
"New Build" = "Interesting? How much? Where is it?"
"Big garage" = "Where is it? What does the house look like?"
This helped a lot. The same went for me. I was drawn to similar features and I learned that if there wasn't a picture of the kitchen, or I didn't like the kitchen - it was a no-go. A TON of houses were screened out due to my kitchen preferences.
It just took a lot of time, and then we got to the point that we were super picky. Our house wish list became enormous. I started to get worried that we wouldn't find a match. Or at least, a match within our budget. But, it also helped because we knew exactly what we wanted. We could rule out houses quickly without worrying that we'd missed out. It even helped our realtor when we finally got her involved in the process.
Mistake #3 : No set timeline - When we first started looking, it was just a daydream. A distraction. We started to get more serious around August 2014 but knew we had a way to go in order to get the house ready to sell. Even then, we didn't want to find something and fall in love.. and still have to sell our place.
Still, we kept looking. Our focus shifted to prepping the house to sell - with moments of house hunting. We found a location we liked, but they had plenty of lots available and the builder (or the realtor rep.) was willing to meet with us frequently as we hemmed and hawed over the floorplans, neighborhoods, and options.
We got our house on the market (finally!) in January and that's when we really focused on the house hunt. But, there was still time. We expected to be on the market for a while and didn't want to commit fully until our house was sold.
Over time, we became disenchanted with the builder we had initially been drawn to. After touring probably 10-15 of their houses, it started to feel very.. similar. Very same. Very... well.. think of it this way: It was like the cute jock you had a crush on in high school compared to the handsome intellectual bookish mysterious hunk you decide to marry. Kind of a one-note.
But at that moment, the jock was our best bet. We didn't sign any papers, our house was still on the market, and I was .. as always, trolling and scrolling on every realty site I could find.
One fateful night, we were piled up on the couch watching youtube clips. I decided to take a little risk. I bumped up our budget (we had one at this point) on the app and searched for houses just ever so slightly over our comfort zone. I saw a house listed at a new address, in a new neighborhood I hadn't researched yet. It didn't seem too impressive at first, but it also wasn't finished being built yet. There were only a few pictures on the listing.. but those were enough for me to do a google search on the neighborhood.
|Look at the lovely red dirt landscaping and|
And then a drive by the next day.
I decided to show the Man the listing. We drove by that night. I think we drove by again the following day. On our second lap around the neighborhood, we toured a house next door that wasn't finished yet - no locks, so just an unofficial tour. (We did a lot of unofficial touring in new construction. A LOT.) It was time to see inside the house we liked.. time to call the realtor.
If I have my dates right in my head.. I think we set up an appointment for two days later. Something like that.. it was all very quick.
We toured it. We marvelled. We oohed and ahhed. We felt pretty sure we had found our house.