Buying Advice from Real Home Buyers
Home Buyer Tips

Buying Advice from Real Buyers

This month, I invited a wonderful group of bloggers from MyBlogU to answer some questions about their home buying experiences. The result was some really good first-hand advice, not from us, the Realtors, but from the perspective of people who have already bought.

Now, keep in mind that these bloggers hail from across the world, but I think you’ll notice that there are some common themes no matter where you buy. Also note that these are not past clients of The Cameron Team. These are just folks who were friendly enough to share their experiences.

Questions we’ve been discussing:

Q. If you financed your purchase, is there anything you would have done differently concerning your mortgage or down payment?

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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My mortgage was an endowment one, where the linked insurance police paid off the mortgage and left a lump sum over as well. It worked out fine for me, but I would still choose a repayment mortgage another time so I have all of the proceeds of the insurance policy to actually spend

A. ModestMoney

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I definitely didn’t take the time to shop around for the best rate enough.  I made the mistake of relying on only pitting a mortgage broker against my regular bank.  The mortgage broker sensed I was just comparison shopping and tried being aggressive about only giving better rates if I were to commit.  Meanwhile my bank probably realized that I wasn’t mentioning rates from many other banks which was likely a greenlight to be firm on their rates too.

Q. What was the most difficult part of the home buying process?

A. Navneet (Plan Ahead and Research Market well)

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To find a right location in the city was the difficult part. I needed to explore all available areas to find good flats. The more you spread out from the city, the more flat rates go down, but traveling time increases to the office and other places where you travel frequently. The cost of travel would be high.

 

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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The most difficult part for me was dealing with the sellers who were crazy, kept threatening to pull out at every obstacle, and this after we had agreed to their full (inflated) asking price. They made it difficult to see the house a second time, made the moving in day almost impossible and delayed at every opportunity

A. Sandy (Writer and IT Project Manager)

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There are several things that I found difficult about the process, but the biggest thing was being patient! It takes time for everything; from searching for homes, to applying for loans and getting prequalified, to the “final” paperwork, inspections, communications with banks and realtors…it is a process that most first-time buyers are unprepared for when they start. The most difficult part for me was patience.

Q. What were you the most concerned about when choosing a home? Number of bedrooms? Location? Community amenities? etc.

A. Navneet (Plan Ahead and Research Market well)

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I was concerned about amenities and location – location was my priority and then amenities to the new flat. Having a flat away from the city center, market, shopping malls, better schools…I would be traveling all the time to these places. Having flats away from city central adds your cost of traveling, increases expenses for round trip to city.

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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Location is far and away the most important factor. My first house I had to move out from because I was living in the school’s catchment area (I was a teacher) and was getting abuse and threats of violence. My second house was not one where you would have been happy having children. The third house was small but perfectly located, similarly 4th and 5th houses. My 6th house had 5 bedrooms but neighbours from Hell and my 7th house (where I still live) only has 3 bedrooms but the perfect neighbours, a field of cows

A. Larry Mai (Founder)

Location location location. Lots of other things can be remedied, but you can’t change your location once you’re purchased the property. You can remodel your kitchen. You can add another bedroom. If you want amenities, join the Y or your local country club. You can change many things about your house except your address.

The same house in a different town or even in a different part of the same town can have a significantly higher or lower price. In my experience, the key drivers in price related to location are schools and distance to center of town.

A. ModestMoney

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For me it was all about size, price and lighting.  Too many condos in my price range were way too small or else they had limited light.  If I’m going to spend much time in my home I don’t want to feel like I’m living in a cave.  Location was pretty important too as I was envisioning this as a 7-8 year home and would need to be happy about where I live.

Q. Was there a feature of your home that you thought you needed only to change your mind after you purchased?

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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My home has many features, cows, electricity that are essential. It has no mains water, gas or Internet. Lack of broadband is very difficult to live with and I pay 75 euro a month for a limited bandwidth satellite connection. There were no features on my selection list that I changed my mind about

A. Sandy (Writer and IT Project Manager)

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Actually, I changed my mind on this one before I purchased my home. A feature I was absolutely looking for was a pool! I live in Florida and wanted a pool more than anything. Being from the Midwest, a pool in Florida just seems natural. But, I learned from my search that there were other much more important things needed for my family in a home than a luxury such as that. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish the home I bought had a pool, but my thought now is that if I want one that badly, then I’ll put one in myself and have it just like I want it!

Q. Did you learn anything new about home ownership after you purchased

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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I learned what a pain it was living out in the country with a troublesome septic tank, a water supply that had a pH of 5.5 and dial up Internet access. The nastiest surprise came when the banks crashed in 2008 and house prices plummeted, from 500K to 150K in 3 years. Everyone had assumed up to that point that prices could only ever go up

A. Sandy (Writer and IT Project Manager)

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I learned that you have to maintain it and keep it up yourself because no one else will! It is not like renting where a landlord will fix the broken toilet or leaky faucet when needed. When owning your own home you must keep up with it, fix things, improve things, and do it all without relying on a landlord to do it for you.

Q. What is the best part of owning your home?

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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Owning my own home (along with the bank) means that as long as I pay the mortgage nobody can force me to move out. MY one foray into rental property ended when I was given 2 months notice to move out because the owner wanted to move back in again

A. Sandy (Writer and IT Project Manager)

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The best thing about owning my home is that it provides stability and “putting down roots” for my daughter. This was very important to me as I searched for a home as a single mom in a new state.

I also wanted to provide her a “home” that she could enjoy – the backyard, her bedroom, enough space to have a dog…I also like that I can improve my home as I please! I can put a nail, a painted wall, a piece of flooring wherever or however I choose!

A. ModestMoney

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Personally I’d have to say simply knowing I don’t have to move again anytime soon.  In the past 15 years I’ve moved way too many times and the actual move is always such a hassle….packing everything, making all the arrangements and then taking the time to get settled.  I definitely won’t miss that at all.  Beyond that I’m enjoying the flexibility of making any changes to my home that I want.  Right now I happen to be in the midst of repainting.  It’ll be interesting to see how much that transforms my home.

Q. Is there anything not mentioned that you would have done differently?

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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If I could have my time over again I would think to check water supply quality (I have a well and the water is so acidic it dissolves copper pipes and brass valves) and Internet access. When you have always had fast broadband it is impossible to imagine anyone not having it, which was why I assumed it would be here

A. Sandy (Writer and IT Project Manager)

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I would not have done anything differently. It took me 7 months to find my home and another month to close on it and move in. I’m glad I was picky, I’m glad I held out for my “perfect home” – I knew it the second I walked in and I haven’t had any regrets since 🙂

Q. Do you have any advice for future buyers?

A. Navneet (Plan Ahead and Research Market well)

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Explore the market with different insurance providers. Do not rush. If you are buying a new home then prepare a checklist of items it should have and evaluate if the home has all the amenities which you mentioned on your checklist. Explore more about mortgage options. It could save you money if you plan it well.

A. Philtrate (The Teaching Escape Guy)

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Location is everything. You can add bedrooms and redecorate but you cannot move the house. Get the location right! Check the neighbours, knock on their doors when you are looking at a house and make an assessment of their desirability as neighbours. Land is the last biggie; if you have land you can do anything, so make sure it is on a big plot

A. ModestMoney

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Watch out for any red flags at all when buying a home.  You don’t have to settle for a home if there is any kind of concerns.  With how much you’re spending, the risk likely isn’t worth it.  You’ll just be kicking yourself later.  In my case I should’ve seen warning signs about potential finance issues of the seller of the first condo that I tried buying.  It turned out that she took money out of her home equity to finance divorce legal fees.  So her bank was unwilling to release the mortgage since the selling price wouldn’t cover the mortgage.  On the bright side I should’ve been more wary about water damage issues with that condo.  In the end I got a much better home, but the first attempt was quite the nightmare.

A. Matthew Anton (web designer / online marketer)

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When my wife and I moved into our home it was an adjustment to get used to the smaller size; our parents homes were much larger, with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. We are expecting our first baby girl in October this year, and we thought we could never live here and grow a family, but the reality is, we can.

Realize you are only 6 feet x 4 feet. You can only take up so much room at any one time. As long as there is room to sleep, eat, and go to the bathroom, a home is big enough. The main thing I would not neglect is bathrooms. You need at least 1 full bathroom and a half bath (if multiple people living in the home), otherwise life will be miserable at times.

Main takeaway is to live within your means. We know people that buy homes and can barely afford the mortgage. They aren’t impressing anyone, and are just stressing themselves out. A good realtor will certainly help guide you based on your budget, but you should make it clear to them you don’t want to see homes out of “X” range. Doing so will create an unhealthy desire for something not obtainable, i.e. don’t look at mansions if you can’t afford one.

Our home burnt down when I was 12 from a fire, causing us to live in a trailer for 7 months. At first it was a “joke” but soon fell in love with a smaller home, where everyone ate together in the living room, which was right next to the kitchen. You will always find reasons to fill or use a room, but if you aren’t sleeping in it, or going to the bathroom in it, it’s a communal space. Now we can move into a much larger home now that I run a successful company, but I’m very content here, after assuring myself it was just a starter home. Bunk beds are a kids best friend :). Happy house shopping, and don’t let friends, family, or your own egos get in the way of the correct deal/home size for your family.

A. Sandy (Writer and IT Project Manager)

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I do have some advice – DON’T SETTLE! Find exactly what you want, where you want, with every feature you want within reason. This is a HUGE purchase, probably the biggest of your life. Spend your money wisely, search until you find “the one”, and don’t settle because you are simply tired of searching. Your perfect home DOES exist!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their experiences and thank you to the folks at MyBlogU, who provide a great content tool for all us bloggers.

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