Over the past 16 years, I have moved more times than I can count. In fact, during my clinical year of PA school, I essentially lived in my Honda Civic, with a bag of clothes and toiletries, a backpack, and bedding that could be ready to go at a moments notice from one hospital to the next. So when my husband and I bought our first home, I thought I was ready to put down some roots and stay put for a while.
Needless to say between my nomad tendencies of my early 20s combined with an addiction to HGTV, I found myself itching for a fixer upper after only 5 years. I had grandiose ideas of new paint and all white trim, tearing out built-ins, patching up flooring, updating bathrooms, changing light fixtures…and after two years of it, I was done. My previous excitement over the ability to add my own touch left me craving my previous generic but newly built home that required no updating. My priorities shifted with the addition of another baby and more work responsibilities. Now, a smaller space with fewer projects appealed to my new desire for simplicity and more free time. So, two and a half years later, we purged our former dream home and packed up everything else to yet again close on two homes back to back. Through all this, I’ve gleaned a few things about the home buying and selling process that might help simplify it for you.
Establish Your Non-Negotiables
This may seem obvious, but knowing what your priorities are will ease the house hunt. Maybe proximity to church or family is essential, or perhaps a particular school district is the main priority. This may require a specific location, which drastically narrows down the options. If location isn’t the main concern, consider other options such as neighborhood amenities, number of beds and baths, or even floorplan. Bottom line: don’t get sidetracked by things you can change (home furnishings and updates) by the things you can’t (schools, location, floorplan or home structure).
Set A Budget & Stick to It
Again, what might seem like a natural starting point can actually be a final deciding factor in the home buying process. As you see more and more amenities (marble! Two story entry! Three car garage!), it gets easy to start justifying a larger budget. Crunch the numbers before you start looking at homes and determine your top dollar. Keeping yourself accountable to this will prevent you from getting persuaded to increase your budget as you start the house hunt. If you are using a realtor, make sure he or she honors your budget and doesn’t tempt you by showing you homes outside your comfort zone. Which leads me to the next tidbit…
Use A Realtor When Selling Your Home
I’m not sure at what point people decided that watching HGTV was the equivalent of obtaining their real estate license, but I think it coincides with Web MD searches actually granting medical degrees. You use a profession in all other aspects of life, so selling your home should be no exception. If you pay someone to cut your bangs, babysit your dogs, and wash your car, then pay an expert to sell you home. Not only will they save you from logistical nightmares, but they are well versed in the legal aspect of this process as well. Your home is your largest asset; don’t risk it by trying to save a few thousand dollars in closing costs. A real estate agent you trust is worth their weight in gold.
Don’t Buy A Bigger House to Store More Junk!
The American Dream has somehow evolved to mean obtaining more things. We often consider buying a larger home an upgrade. And while everyone’s situation is different, I can say from my own personal experience, that a larger home didn’t mean more happiness. For me it meant paying more people to clean, update, and maintain more space. Which meant more time away from my home and more time at work to pay for all this help. By purging A LOT of stuff and downsizing, we have felt much more at ease. Stop being a slave to your things. Before you move, take a long hard look at what you want to take with you, and decide if you think you really need more space for your friends and family, or do you want more space to house junk you don’t even need.
Buying or selling a home, and moving in general, is one of the most stressful life events. While I am not a realtor, I’ve been down this road a few times now to learn some pointers. Keeping these simple things in mind can help make it slightly less chaotic. Maybe I will even follow my own advice the next time I get the itch to move again.