When I think of home buying, I get super excited to look for houses – touring model homes, imagining my decor, envisioning the new memories. Then the reality sets in, and I remember the loan process, the paperwork gathering, the overwhelming feeling of the adulting financial stuff. My husband and I have purchased 4 homes in the last 12 years. The first 3 were a gradual progression – starter townhome, step-up home, and the you-have-a-large-family-now home. Our move to Texas was unplanned and sudden, but that’s how life is sometimes, so you have to roll with it.
This was my dream home – we lived in it for approximately 4 months, before we found out we were moving to Texas. Whomp whomp. But in the 9 months total we lived there, what was once a dream turned out to be not-so-dreamy. Don’t get me wrong, the house was still great, but not everything I had envisioned in my Pinterest dream boards.
So this (nomadic) mom of 5 has some advice for you. Here’s my new House Hunt Checklist.
What can you afford? Start with Capital One Home Loans Mortgage Loan Calculator. This is a great tool that will help you estimate what mortgage you can afford. My best advice – don’t be house poor. You can’t compare your life to someone else’s life. We are all in different stages. Take into consideration property taxes, HOA fees, utilities, etc. Each house I’ve lived in has had different services. Some HOA fees cover trash, internet, a clubhouse gym. Others include nothing. All of these things add up. Big yard? Are you mowing the lawn or hiring someone to mow it for you? So that dream house..well a large house also costs a lot to heat and cool. We definitely had not accounted for the massive propane bill we received during a snowy winter.
Do you want to be close to work? To family? To Target? To a major city? All questions you need to ask yourself. When we moved into said dream house, my husband’s commute was over an hour, I was 20 minutes from the nearest Target, and 35 minutes from my parents. It was too far. At the time I didn’t think it would be a big deal, because my husband could telecommute, and my house was beautiful. Nope, not worth it. All the space in the world did not substitute having grandparents nearby.
But for some people, it’s not important. For some, the more distance between family, the better. Also, schools play an important role if you have children. We chose our new house in North Dallas because of the excellent reputation of the schools. We haven’t been disappointed.
Make a list of what is REALLY important to you. Number of bedrooms and bathrooms is a good start. I never thought I needed a large kitchen island, but now that I have one, I can’t live without it. Also, garage is on my list. With kids, being able to pull the car in and not deal with weather elements is ah-mazing. I’d take a garage over a big yard any day.
I usually have 3 lists – an absolute dealbreaker list, a negotiable list, and an extra bonus, cherry-on-top wish list. When we bought our house, a high school was being built behind it. At the time I didn’t realize how close it was until the band started practicing in the morning, and the percussionists became my wake-up call. It’s laughable now, but these are things you sometimes don’t think about when swooning over your high ceilings.
Now comes the adulting stuff. Good news! To deliver a next-generation banking experience for homebuyers, Capital One Home Loans has launched a completely reimagined, personal and digital home loans experience. Available in select markets (like Dallas), this new home loan experience allows customers to pre-qualify for a home loan in minutes from any device, apply online, upload documents and digitally track progress from application to closing. It also includes personalized service from a dedicated loan officer when a customer needs it. This is a game-changer. I so needed this during my home purchases.
And for all you lucky ducks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, to celebrate the launch of their new digital and personal experience, Capital One Home Loans is partnering with Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot, stars from HGTV’s Love It or List It, Too, to host a free and open-to-the public Open House event on Saturday, December 12 at the Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco, TX. During the event, they’ll share do-it-yourself tips and tricks for simplifying the entire home buying and owning process. SQUEE!! For more information, visit SmartHomeLoans.com.
Best wishes on your adventure, home buyers!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.