Roaming and eating our way through Columbus and beyond.

9 Things I Learned While House Hunting

nine things i learned while house hunting | wander & whine {by alexis} You’ll have to excuse me if I yawn a few times during this blog post — Joe and I spent every waking moment of the last weekend moving, and we’re still not quite caught up on our rest. Thanks to our ginormous and incredibly supportive families, we are all moved in to the new place in Upper Arlington! I was planning to write a post about ways to make moving easier, but I realized that I’m the world’s worst mover, so that would be completely disingenuous, and we don’t do that here. Instead, I want to share with you the nine things I learned while house hunting.

You’ll have to trust me here: Joe and I spent about 18 months looking seriously for a house. That is OVER A YEAR. Everyone told me shopping for a house would be fun, and everyone lied. It’s hideous. Here’s what I would tell that bright-eyed FOOL who started last April.

  1. Hope for the best; prepare to look at a thousand terrible houses. I counted on being all moved into a house last August, and I was so disappointed as summer turned into fall, and then winter, and we found ourselves in our cramped condo for another Christmas. I just didn’t realize it could take that long. By all means, hope the first house you see is the one you love, but know that it might not be. The 75th house you see might not be it, either.
  2. Go with your gut. A month or so before the house we bought listed, we put a bid in on a house nearby. There was some miscommunication, and we actually ended up rescinding our offer, before putting another, revised offer on the table. They counter-offered right in the range we had hoped for, but I just couldn’t say yes, so we ended up walking away. After looking so long, it felt like I was torpedoing our plans. I was all depressed and complaining, and a friend said, “You can’t make a mistake by NOT buying a house. Buying a house you don’t feel good about is the mistake.” What an aha! moment. Obviously, a damn near perfect house came along, and we went forward with no qualms at all.
  3. Don’t bid on a house that you wouldn’t love to win. We bid on a house the week before our house listed. It was in a great location, checked off most of our boxes, and so the only thing to do was bid. Fortunately, someone else came along and outbid us. Afterward, when I was waiting to hear news on our house, I was amazed at how differently I felt. I was going to be CRUSHED if we didn’t get our house, but on the others, I was feeling something closer to dread than eager anticipation. Only bid if you want to win.
  4. Think about neighbors and nearby land usage. This should be a no-brainer, but if the market allows you some time, take a drive around the neighborhood at various times of day, or the week. See what the atmosphere is. Are there people walking dogs? Talking? Working on their houses? Throwing keggers in the front yard? Keep an eye our nearby land, too. If your house borders a giant old farmer’s field, know that it could sell down the road and they could put up a Wal-Mart. IT COULD HAPPEN.
  5. If kids are the tiniest blip on the edge of your radar, research school districts. We were thinking about a house in Clintonville, so I looked up summer reading lists for Clintonville and Upper Arlington (I speak book, after all). Columbus City’s books were fine (classics, really), but UA’s lists included Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was flabbergasted. The book is so, so wonderful, and new, and beyond strange. I was pretty ready to enroll there myself.
  6. Watch the market like a psycho, even the houses you’ve decided against. My friends and family got sick of me because every time they’d send me a house, I’d inevitably yell “SEEN IT, HATE IT” back at them. I watched the market like it was the summer of deception on 90210. All neighborhoods, all prices. I found the best site for market-stalking was Estately — it’s literally¬†minutes behind the MLS. It was interesting to see how houses that we didn’t like performed, too. No one believed me that they sold for well over $200/square foot until I rattled off addresses and sold prices. Helps to know what you’re dealing with.
  7. If you’re shopping with a spouse or partner, remember you don’t want to convince each other you like a house. I spent many an evening trying to talk to Joe into some house he just didn’t love. And why? Did I really want to bully him into making the biggest purchase of his life? You’ve both got to live there; make sure you’re both in love.
  8. If it’s hard for you to see past things like furnishings and wallpaper, make sure you have someone shopping with you who has a better vision for makeovers.¬†UA is full of expensive fixer-uppers. Aesthetics didn’t really trip me up, but it’s hard for me to envision knocking down walls or building on additions. A realtor who has a knack for renovation, or even a tag-along contractor can help if your budget limits you to something that needs a little work.
  9. Be prepared to make a compromise (or seven). You’re not going to get everything you want. You’re just not. We got pretty damn close, but we did have to settle for a one-car garage instead of two (and guess who’s car is left out in the cold?). I honestly consider myself pretty lucky considering the kitchen is nirvana and the master is like a five-star hotel, so I’d trade that one-car garage all day.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be done with all of that mess. Settling in is an absolute JOY compared to the hell of showing appointments and houses that sell after an hour on the market. Listen, I’m being dramatic: it’s doable, but it’s a whole world unto itself. Are you looking now? What things are driving you craziest? Do you own? How long were you house hunting for?

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Alexis

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1 comment
  • Caitlin

    August 25th, 2015 13:17

    I'm going to bookmark this for when we start house hunting in earnest :). I think #7 is particularly insightful--I could see myself trying to convince Austin about a house (or vice versa). Can't wait to see more pics as you get settled in your new place . . .

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