This post is sponsored by Capitol Federal® Savings Bank.
In the last decade, we have purchased three homes (and sold two) in the Wichita market. Each time we learned something new – and each time we did some things differently. Buying and selling a home is exciting, scary and exhausting! Here are the important things we learned that made the process so much easier the third time around:
1. Nail down your non-negotiables.
Figure out what your non-negotiables are for the new house before you even start looking. This time around we needed the following:
- Three-car garage
- Walk out basement
- Neighborhood with young families
- USD259 school district
- A price that allowed us to do a 15-year mortgage
This criteria eliminated a lot of houses for us, and since none of those things are easily changed, we knew we weren’t willing to budge on any of it.
Our second home didn’t meet any of those criteria. We’d hoped for years that more families with kids would move into the neighborhood, but it just wasn’t happening. We had loved one particular neighborhood in town since we were in high school – it’s full of families, has a variety of neighborhood amenities and is conveniently located. The only catch was very few of the houses in this neighborhood have both a 3-car garage and a walk out basement. We were willing to wait until a house with everything we were looking for came on the market, so when our current home listed, it was an easy decision!
2. Don’t settle for subpar service.
We were not at all happy with the inspector for our first home. You have control over who you use, and after learning the hard way that it doesn’t have to be whomever your realtor likes to work with, we asked for recommendations and referrals from friends to select a different inspector the second and third time around. Our biggest piece of advice with inspectors is to find one who’s willing to let you follow them around the house as they complete the inspection, allowing you to ask questions or voice any concerns.
As far as real estate agents go, finding the agent (or making the choice to go without one) that works for you is really dependent on your comfort level in the home buying process, your personality and your desire and/or willingness to be heavily involved. You may want a very organized, Type-A realtor when buying your first home or you may want someone more laid back and go-with-the-flow. Agents operate differently and offer different services as part of helping you buy and/or sell a home, so know what want for when you start looking for a realtor.
The same is true for your mortgage company. We had heard great things from family members about Capitol Federal® Savings Bank and no other national or local lenders were able to beat their rates when we decided to refinance our second home.
They made refinancing so easy and provided such great service we knew without a doubt we’d use them again for our third home. Capitol Federal is organized, on top of things, and make closing so easy. With our third house, we ran into a situation where the sellers had a buyer fall through and were down to less than one month left on their contingency offer on another house. That made our decision to use CapFed® easy since we knew they were the only mortgage company we could trust to be ready to close that quickly. CapFed had us approved within 2 hours, and we ended up closing in 24 days – and they were ready even a couple days earlier! This was a far cry from the lender we used previously who actually delayed closing because they hadn’t finished their side of things.
Plus, they have nine offices in the Wichita area. We thought the office in Bradley Fair was really convenient, and it even has a little area for kids to play and color if you have to bring them with you – such a smart idea! Unlike most mortgage lenders, CapFed services the conventional loans that they underwrite (rather than selling the servicing to another bank) and have incredibly convenient options available to their customers because of that, like loan re-amortization and loan rate endorsement to name a few. We recommend them highly!
3. Be smart about upgrades and quick fixes.
Know which things can be easily or cheaply changed when looking at homes. Don’t let things like paint colors or outdated fixtures be a deal breaker. Those projects can be quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensive to update a space or make it fit your style. If you’re not one who’s able to picture a space differently, take along a trusted friend who is and can help you visualize what a few simple updates would do for the home. With this particular home, I really disliked the exterior color of the house, the interior paint colors, and wasn’t a fan of the fixtures throughout the house. While painting the entire exterior isn’t necessarily a cheap or easy change, I knew it would happen within a few years when we replaced the original siding. Fortunately for us, we were right in the middle of that huge hail storm last summer and got a new roof and all new siding way faster than anticipated thanks to our home insurance! Even still, it’s able to be changed, unlike the layout of the home, the number of garage stalls, or whether it’s a walkout basement or not. But paint and new fixtures? Overall, fairly inexpensive and really just requires some sweat equity, which we were willing to do! It completely transformed the space and made it so much brighter – and way more our style!
My best suggestion when looking for a new home is don’t let the home buying process overwhelm you! It can truly be a fun milestone and an enjoyable undertaking, especially with the right service providers on your team.
About Capitol Federal®
For more than 125 years, Capitol Federal® has remained steadfast in its corporate philosophy of Safety in Savings, Sound Lending Policies, Quality Customer Service, and Commitment to Community.
Capitol Federal is a leader in residential lending in Kansas and Missouri and boasts more than $9 billion in assets. In addition to single-family residential lending, the Bank offers commercial and small business loans, business banking services, along with personal accounts, including checking, savings, money market, IRA and certificates of deposit, as well as trust services. With 54 locations, the Bank’s network extends throughout Kansas and into Missouri.
Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. www.capfed.com