What it really feels like to buy a house

You guys, it’s officially official, we bought a house! I shared the super exciting news a few weeks ago, but I also wanted to share our/my experience of going through the actual process, because I feel like it’s something people don’t really talk about. Sure, your friends might tell you when they are doing it, but does anyone really share what it’s actually like to go through this crazy process? So today I’m sharing what it was really like for us, to help de-mystify the whole thing and maybe answer some people’s questions along the way.

When I’m the broker representing a buyer or seller, I know intellectually that it’s the biggest, and sometimes most stressful purchase of your life. But since it’s not my house, or my purchase, I can stay neutral and objective and I try to take away as much stress from my clients as possible so that everything goes smoothly for them. This time around I was the buyer {and the broker}, and it’s been fascinating to experience first-hand.

I’ve been surprised in a ‘not really surprised’ kind of way, the parts of this process that have been stressful and difficult, and the parts that have been easy.

Really, everyone will have their own individual experience of this process… and different aspects of the purchase will be more or less stressful to each person depending on them, and the unique elements of their transactions. This was just my experience this specific time.

For us, looking for a place was fairly easy. We knew exactly what we were looking for. It wasn’t a certain kind of building, or a specific neighborhood, we wanted a specific kind of fixer-upper ~ good condition overall, out of date kitchens and baths, maybe some flooring work but no moving walls or reconfiguring layouts, no gut rehabs. Something that we could update and sell in two years or less. Of course we had our own personal wish list of things of things we’d love to have, but we were clear that everything on that list was negotiable if something was the right kind of project. The math of the purchase price, the cost of work and the potential selling price were very important for us as well.

For me personally, the financial element of submitting our information to our lender and getting pre-approved was beyond stressful. I don’t come from a wealthy family and my entire childhood was filled with worry about not being able to make ends meet. Even though I know that financial lacking isn’t my own truth, sometimes certain areas of our lives are so energetically engrained that it can be hard to clear that ‘programming’ out and have your own reality, and this experience was a visceral reminder that there is still a good amount left to clear out of my space!

I had nightmares that we wouldn’t get approved or be able to buy anything, even though I knew consciously that wouldn’t happen. I also had a lot of anxiety about other people seeing how much money I make, and what debt I have, and feelings of guilt and that I wasn’t good enough to be doing this (let’s be real, I have some big student loans and so do a lot of people, so I’m sharing because I know that I’m not the only one that feels this stuff} Hitting the ‘submit’ button on that loan application was terrifying, and made everything feel really real.

There’s a big difference between just looking at houses and getting approved to actually buy one. Also, this is part of the reason we make all of our clients get pre-approved before we start looking for a house with them, it’s not real until you go through that process and can actually submit an offer and buy something, it can be a big deal!

Figuring out what to offer, for us was piece of cake. This is what I do all day every day, I looked at all of the comps and I knew what this place was really worth{ and it was quite a bit lower than the current list price}. While we were looking for a good deal, I’m not the kind of person that will just low-ball a seller for no reason, I don’t think it’s a smart or effective strategy. However, this property was overpriced from the beginning, and had been sitting, stagnating on the market for 200 days {folks, that’s a looooong time on the market}. We ended up going under contract for $20K less than the list price, which had already dropped $35K from when it was first listed. But really, it was priced way too high from the get go… I don’t feel like we ‘stole’ this place by any means {I would have loved to find a distressed property to get an even better deal, but they are pretty few and far between these days}, but I do feel like we got it for a good value.

Putting together the contract, signing and sending it ~ easy peasy. Once I got through he stress of getting the pre-approval, signing the contract wasn’t hard for me. Sometimes people can have a hard time actually signing and submitting an offer, this is where it gets real for them… for me, the hardest part was earlier in the process, now I was ready to go!

Negotiating felt more stressful than usual, but I had my own skin in the game this time, and I cared more about how the seller would respond and whether they would walk away. Not that I don’t care when I’m negotiating for someone else, but when you have your own energy in there, some uncertainty comes in… we had a specific timeline and no backup places if this didn’t work out, so the stakes were somewhat high for us.

The inspection went really well and we didn’t make any requests for repairs or credits. I wasn’t even worried about this aspect of our purchase since we’re basically ripping everything out, but I did still do an inspection just in case. No matter what kind of property I am buying, I would never pass on an inspection. It’s the one chance you get to have a deeper look into the property and visibility into things that might cause issues or need work. I’ve seen deals die because the inspection revealed red-flag issues that weren’t visible during the showings, so don’t give this up if you don’t have to!

I also had my flooring guy and my contractor lined up to come look at the space during the inspection. Gotta make the most of the early time so that we’re ready to go once we close. I was determined to be able to start work as soon as humanly possible, as we wanted to get a few things done before we move in.

Usually after the inspection period {and if you are buying a condo, reviewing the condo docs}, everything is quiet and pretty uneventful while the lender finishes their work, but our deal took a surprising turn and for several weeks I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to get a loan and actually close on this puppy! Talk about stress.

It turns out there is quite a bit of litigation going on in the building. We knew that there had been some big issues in the past, but supposedly it had all been resolved ~ apparently not! This all came to light right before Christmas, and this deal went from our lender saying he could have everything together before the end of the year to ~ we might not be able to give you this loan. Ugh.

Lenders care about risk, and potential financial liability of a condo association in litigation could be a big risk. After a lot of stressful communication back and forth with the seller’s attorney and management company, and four trips downtown to the courthouse myself to get court documents, I sent everything to our lender and had to just wait. You guys, I don’t do ‘just waiting’ very well! I like to have everything under control, or at least feel like I have everything under control, and during these weeks I had to remind myself over and over {and over}, that really, we don’t have control over anything outside of ourselves. I had done everything in my power to facilitate things coming together, but at a certain point I had to let it go and trust that if this place was supposed to be ours it would be, and if it didn’t come together, it wasn’t meant to be.

At the same time all of this was going on I was having the very weird experience of my conscious self being in complete panic and going into effort to put everything together, constantly stressing and panicking that the deal would fall apart, but intuitively seeing the energy always looking and feeling like everything was going to happen and it wasn’t a big deal. My ‘body’ experience was complete stress, but the ‘energy’ was totally calm. It was so disparate that I got caught up in the stress and couldn’t trust my intuition and what I knew energetically was true. The deal was happening and I didn’t need to be so stressed, I could see the energy, but was it true or was that just what I wanted to happen? I totally didn’t trust myself. Ugh, I was so stuck!

Finally, f i n a l l y my lender called me. Of course my panicked self thought it was bad news. But low and behold, he said everything went through and they could move forward! I was SO. RELIEVED. All of the stress and panic left and I felt overwhelmed with excitement. For like five minutes and then I felt really tired, haha. I felt silly and laughed at myself. I’m psychic and I had so much energy caught up in this whole thing that I completely lost my ability to trust myself. The energy was right, all that chaos that swirled around for weeks ~ who knows what that was but it wasn’t the truth, I just got all caught up in the whirlwind. Everything was fine, and now we were almost to the finish line!

Then we just waited for the paperwork to be finalized… which is really what you do for like a month after you finish the inspection and negotiations… you wait on the lender so you can pay for this baby. I was hoping to have everything ready to start our renovations the day after we closed, but of course the management office needs to approve everything so we waited to close and now we are still waiting until we can start the work. So much uncertainty! And a lot of good practice in letting go and going with the flow!

All in all I appreciated even the most stressful parts of this process because it really made me aware of some ‘pain points’ in myself where I know I get stressed more easily, so  I can work on owning those parts of my space and myself more in general. Also, I’m glad some of the most difficult aspects of my deal, the litigation and communication challenges, happened to myself and not one of my clients. That aspect of our transaction is very rare and who knows if I’ll ever run into it again, but if I do, now I’ll know how to handle it like a boss.

Ultimately, I think everything about buying or selling a house is probably more stressful the first time you go through it, because everything is unfamiliar and new. Even though I know the entire process and have been through it hundreds of times, it’s different when it’s actually myself doing everything. But I’ve never been more excited about starting something before, I might even start covert demo-ing just to be able to feel like I’m making some progress while we wait for the building approval, lol!

If you haven’t bought a house what’s your biggest fear or question about the process? And if you are a real estate pro, what do you find to be the easiest part of the process, and what is the most stressful for you? I want to know!

 

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