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A Roadmap to My Search For A Home

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As many of the more frequent readers have known, I recently went through the daunting process of searching for a home, obtaining financing for a home, and then actually purchasing a home. The entire process was documented as it progressed (my ignorance is most obvious in the earlier posts) and so now, after the journey has concluded, a nice summary map of the entire trip would be helpful. I’ll just give a brief “executive” summary of the post and hopefully everything won’t be as disjointed and confusing. This is a very long post.

Pre-House Hunting Era

I wrote two articles before my first house hunting trip.

  • PMI or Piggyback Mortgage? – I opted for a piggyback mortgage instead of a loan with a LTV greater than 80% and paying the PMI, but in this article I compare the two and it may seem obvious why I went with that option.
  • “Play House” – Pretending You Have A Mortgage – I was reading a Suze Orman book and one interesting idea she had was to “play house,” or just save your expected mortgage payment in a separate account and see if you can actually handle the payments. I never played but it was a good idea.

House Hunting Era

  • First House Hunting Trip (April 11th, 2005) – Saw three homes, didn’t see one I liked but got a better feel for the market in the area – the market is freaking expensive. I talk about being a more discerning buyer and learning more about what I like in a home.
  • That Damned Rent vs. Buy Question (April 12th, 2005) – I did a personal evaluation of the rent vs. buy tradeoff and talk about some useful calculators at Dinkytown.net.
  • Getting Pre-Approved For A First-Home Mortgage (April 13th, 2005) – I send in some information to several places to see what sort of loan I can get pre-approved for, this is a critical step because sellers will probably not consider offers where the bidder hasn’t been pre-approved.
  • LendingTree Is Ridiculously Fast (April 13th, 2005) – This was posted the afternoon after I sent LendingTree some personal info. They actually had someone call me up and talk to me… they’re doing some solid work over there.
  • Buddying Up with my Credit Union (April 13th, 2005) – I talk about looking at my credit union about mortgages, unfortunately due to time circumstances I couldn’t actually follow through on the advice I talk about here.
  • Closing Costs and Annoying Fees (and I made an offer on a house) (April 18th, 2005) – This article summarizes what I understand about closing costs, all manner of fees, and my second house hunting trip – which resulted in my putting an offer down on a home.
  • Online Real Estate Listings are Stale (April 19th, 2005) – Basically, without a real estate agent you start at a disadvantage because all the websites have data that’s a few days late, unless you’re going For Sale By Owner. I also talk about how I up the escalation clause to the first house.
  • First Home Offer Verdict – DENIED! (April 19th, 2005) – I gave more specifics about the house and the fact that, as you can deduce, I didn’t “win” it. I was willing to pay up to $300k for a house listed at $290k, the eventual buyer paid $312k for it.
  • Always Look at More Than Six Homes (April 26th, 2005) – When I first heard the rule, I ignored it really, but after looking at my criteria for a house at this point and comparing it with the criteria initially – it’s like night and day, with respect to the level of specificity.
  • Timeline and Costs of a Home Purchase (or, House Hunting Trip 4) – (May 1st, 2005) In your contract offer, you detail what the timeline will be. In this article, I discuss what you’ll need to specify in your contract so you know what to expect. I’ve just put out a second offer as of this article.
  • Understanding Seller Psychology – They Are Greedy (May 4th, 2005) – This is a little unfair (and ultimately the house I do buy isn’t based on money) but all the other little details in a contract matter little compared to the purchase price. I was naive to think it would be otherwise. Oh yeah, offer #2 was shot down.. but I’ve put down a third article.

Pre-Offer Ratification (But Close)

We move out of the doldrums of just searching and move into a whirlwind four or five days where I am in serious contention for a home.

  • Full Financial Disclosures and Gift Letters (May 10th, 2005) – Now that we’re in contention, the seller wants more financial information to make sure that, if we’re selected, we can actually make it to closing.
  • A Counter-Offer: Offer More or Wait It Out? (May 10th, 2005) – Here is where I learn the seller wants a few additions to the contract and that we’re in second place. My agent wants to know if I want to add more money to the offer and I go into the reasons why I shouldn’t…

Ratification (I Have a House!)

The sellers picked my offer and, after a few more minor changes, after I work out the inspection, loan details, etc. I will have a home. They want to close in 2 weeks!

Post-Ratification

The first few months of home ownership are difficult since you don’t know what expenses to expect, what is covered by the escrow, etc.

  • Insurance, Escrows and Property Taxes (July 14th, 2005) – The HOA bill came but I knew that was covered in the escrow, but the first six months of insurance weren’t collected. The property tax, however, was collected so I’m in the clear on that… but there was some anxiety until I found out.

Looking Back & Lessons Learned

I took a look back after a few years to see whether or not I made good decisions, bad decisions, etc. given the housing slump that followed my purchase.

I hope those of you have had the time and energy to follow along enjoyed yourselves. To those who left helpful comments, I am extremely grateful. I started the journey knowing absolutely nothing and ended it knowing a little bit more than nothing and hopefully we’ve learned something new together. Thanks!

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One Response to “A Roadmap to My Search For A Home”

  1. John says:

    i’m gonna have to peruse this whole section you have on buying a house. hopefully by years end, I will have my own place, whether it be buy or rent…with the good tips that you seem to have in this section.


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