Millennials aren’t buying a lot of houses. At least they’re not buying as many as our parents did. There’s a lot of reasons for that and I won’t get into them here.
What I will get into is once you decide to buy a house, and the finances line up, how to find the perfect one.
My own home buying journey has been fraught with disappointment. My wife and I have been searching for almost 6 months. We had to ask our current landlord for a month-to-month extension.
We’ve made 3 offers on 3 separate houses and lost all of them. I expect we’ll lose at least 2 more offers.
We’re extremely confident once we get to the stage of making an offer on a house. It’s because we’ve done our homework on the things I’m about to share with you.
Know Where You Want to Live
I know, this seems obvious, but follow me for a second.
I currently live in Austin, so I’ll use that as an example. Where in Austin do you want to live? What specific part of town?
Go drive around the other parts of town you don’t go to often. Lookup houses in your price range in every other area than the one you live in now and go visit them.
- How are the neighborhoods?
- How far is it from your current job? Downtown? Other major employers, you may work at in the future?
- How close is the grocery store?
- Love going to the movies? How close is the movie theater?
- Did you like the restaurants and the general vibe of the area?
It took us a month to do this in Austin. Every weekend we’d get out and look at houses all across town. I mapped out how long my commute would be, what roads I would take, and what was around.
That’s how we discovered that we didn’t want to live in Austin anymore. We hated all of it and didn’t want to plant our roots here.
Your Perfect House
Checklists are simple yet powerful tools for making decisions.
We’ve been living in rental houses for the last few years which was a great decision before buying a house. It gave us the experience of living in a house without all of the big, expensive responsibilities if something broke.
It also let us figure out what we liked in a house, what our preferred layout was, how we liked the kitchen, how much backyard we wanted, and a million other little things we would’ve never thought of.
We take our dog for a walk every day, so a neighborhood with sidewalks is important to us. That’s not something I thought about before.
We spend a lot of time at home because we both work remotely, so a quiet neighborhood is important. We also need room for 2 home offices so our square-footage requirements are bigger.
Sit down and outline what makes your perfect house. Be as specific as you can without worrying too much about things that can easily be changed. So what if the walls are painted an ugly color, you can paint them later.
Write down your must-haves. Here’s some of ours:
- A quiet, older neighborhood with sidewalks and big trees
- Close to a downtown area with fun things to do
- Single story with a 2 car garage
- A spacious and private backyard for our dogs to play in
- A room or nook to cozy up and listen to the rain
- No pool
Our list is almost 15 things. Every offer we’ve made so far was on a house that checked each and every one of those boxes.
If a house doesn’t check all the boxes then we talk about it. Is this necessary or a nice-to-have?
Our checklist takes the emotional decision out of it. If it doesn’t meet our list we move on to the next one. Which brings me to my next point.
There’s always another house
After losing our first offer we were pretty heartbroken. The house was perfect! It was everything we needed.
Then another perfect house popped up 2 weeks later, and we lost that one too.
A month later a third house came up. You already know what happened with that one too.
On and on. There is no one perfect house. Many houses will fit your criteria because most houses are very similar.
Unless you want to live on a houseboat you have a lot of options.
Do not rush into this decision.
You can get caught up in the thrill of the hunt. Don’t.
You will worry another house won’t come up that has everything you need. You’ll be tempted to settle for something now.
Be patient and the right house will come up for you.
You’ll be in this house for years. Warren Buffet still lives in a house he bought for $31,500 in 1958.
He’s lived there for over 50 years.
This post was really for me
I hope this post helped you, but it was really for me. Buying a house is a stressful experience that I can’t wait to be over. It felt really good to write all of this down and reiterate the system that led my wife and I to start looking for a house in the first place.
I’m so excited to find our perfect house. I know it’s out there. Somewhere.