Monday, November 12, 2012

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Real Estate Edition

You'd have to be living under a rock over the last decade not to have seen the bevy of house-buying shows on HGTV. I, for one, started watching "House Hunters" when I was in high school and I remember at the time thinking, "Huh, these people are really particular" or "Can't they see the potential here? It's just the owner's furniture that they dislike" or "Why are they going with the house that's at the very top of their price range?" Many more shows have aired about the house-buying process, but the more I see the more I feel like it's all a bunch of noise
So, today I'm turning to you all:

Because my husband and I are starting the process, what do we need to know about purchasing our first (and hopefully our forever) home? I'm not talking the basics, like having a minimum of 20% down to avoid PMI or thinking about long-term aspects of a home like its school district; I'm talking about those little lessons or 'ah-ha' moments you have during your own house purchasing experience.

To bring you up to speed on our progress thus far: we would like a traditional older (preferably stone) house in the nearby Philadelphia suburbs. We have price range in mind and have been in contact with a real estate agent that was recommended by family. 
(I'd like a house just like this. Please and thank you.)

Did you ever find yourself saying "If I knew then what I know now..." when buying your first or current home? I'd love to hear the collective experience that you, my lovely readers, have! 
Help a girl out!


  1. Congratulations! House hunting is such an exciting experience. We bought our first house knowing that it would only be our starter home, so that meant we could make some compromises (no garage, no master bath) knowing we'd eventually get everything that we wanted when we "moved up". If you plan on this being your forever home right off the bat, then don't be willing to make compromises. Unless they are things that can be changed down the road. Also, location is everything. Good luck and have fun :)

  2. I'm so very happy for you two! Buying your first home is so exciting - and I love classic architecture. What advice can I give you... I would say natural light, plenty of storage, and a functional floor plan trumps everything else. And try to look past outdated colors and finishes - all of that can be changed. Good luck!

  3. Yay! Congrats! If you can, avoid the "starter" home. Realize now that selling a house is very expensive (think about that commission you have to pay the realtor). Buy for the long term, even if you don't have kids and furniture to fill up all those rooms. Get documentation for any repairs that the sellers claim have been made recently (roof repairs, furnace maintenance, etc.). Check the sales history to see how long other buyers have lived there—if people only stay two or three years before selling it, think about why that might be. Be particular about the location—you can change everything about a house except for that!

  4. Wow, congrats Ashley. Huge step! I feel like like I'm so rehearsed in this b/c we sold our home (in literally a day) and bought a home all in a year! Let's' see. Good bones, but with your sensibility you already know that. Neighborhood and location is everything esp. if this is going to be a forever home. Seriously, look for young families in the neighborhood - you will be so thankful when (if) you have children. That is one thing I didn't expect to love so much, is the fact that my son has 3 other kids (his age) living on our street - it is priceless adn one of those intangibles you don't think of. It makes him so happy and me too! I prefer older homes - think they are built better and will last. I think I could go, but if you have any questions feel free to email me, I'd be happy to share more!

  5. Oh, houses. We're on our third, and our first two were older "charming" (read small) homes that I loved. But honestly, they were not laid out for family living (and adding on was too expensive nd time-consuming for us with two young children). While the "newer" (15-year-old) house we're in now lacks character, it has tons of storage which my husband cannot live without. So, we compromised. I would prefer an older home, but my husband needs space. Of course, we ended up in a great school district and neighborhood with lots of kids, so that's a plus too. Not sure that helped at all. Can't wait to see what you choose!

  6. a good location and natural light are two things you can't really change, so I would recommend looking for both in a home if you can! we love our location but not having great natural light drives me crazy. good luck and I'm excited for you!

  7. I have no right to talk, not being a homeowner myself. But having lived in about 3000 rentals, I will say that my top priorities are decent storage. (Where will the vacuum be stored? Where will I put my linens?) And natural light. I also like to pay attention to which direction the place faces. I always want my living room to be sunny, but can live without a sunny bedroom. Oh, and pay attention to kitchen location. I always feel like I'm tucked away in the back our house cooking. Really wish I was closer to the action with kids... :)


I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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