Update on the Great House Hunt

So, I’ve been house hunting since about mid October at this point, and I’m beginning to realize why people always said it was one of the most frustrating, stressful things they had to do in their lives.  I’ve seen 9 houses at this point, with another one on the block for next week.  I feel like I’ve learned a decent bit about the process.  It’s the first time anyone in my family has ever used a realtor, so there has been something of a learning curve.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:


1. If you like a house, put in an offer.  All that hemming and hawing does is give other people more time to discover that house.  I’m a waffler, and that’s decidedly a problem in this process.


2. Go with your gut.  If you don’t like a house, you don’t like that house.  Move along.  If you like a house, find out as much as you can about the sellers as well as the house.  Even if someone else puts in an offer, make sure the sellers know that you’re still interested.


3. Try to get as much info from the sellers’ agent as you can.  I put in an offer on a house in Patterson Park that I absolutely loved, but it was a low offer.  Turns out, they had another offer in, and mine wasn’t accepted.  If I had known there was another offer in consideration, I would have changed my bid.


4. Don’t be afraid of auctions and foreclosures, but be sure to leave lots of room in the budget for potentially large issues like roofs and plumbing.  A friend had all the copper stolen out of the house he just bought, 2 weeks before he was due to take ownership.


5. Get all your ducks in a row before you start.  Part of the issue with the offer I put on the house in Patterson was that my parents’ paperwork wasn’t done, which caused delays and hassles that probably contributed to the problem.


6. Do some research online to see what different repairs will run you.  It will help you determine the true cost of a given house.


7. Figure out early on what really matters to you.  For me, that was the style of the house.  I’m pretty dead set on a house that either still has most of its historic details, or one that has been redone in an industrial style.  I’ve seen houses that are in poor shape but that have all of their original features that I would rather get and put up with rehabbing than a house in better condition that has been gut renovated to appeal to the lowest common denominator.


8. Step outside your comfort zone to a certain extent.  Originally I wasn’t going to consider anything south of North Ave here in Baltimore, but I’ve found that I really like the area east of Patterson Park (Highlandtown).  I hadn’t been searching there at all, but after finding two houses I liked, it’s now one of the main areas I’m looking at.


So, now that my first offer has fallen through, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board for me.  I’m going to a house auction on Friday to bid on a house in Butcher’s Hill that I’m 95% sure I won’t get, but at least it will be a learning experience.  There’s a house on East Ave S that I’m seeing next week that looks promising, and the first house I ever looked at, 2432 Guilford, is back on the market again.  It’s a short sale and the bank is being more stubborn than a mule, but it’s a house I absolutely adore and I’m willing to put up a fight to get them down to a price that the house is actually worth (it’s overpriced to begin with, and I found out from a friend who had it inspected that it needs about $15k of work).  When I saw that house, I joked that statistically speaking, I was most likely to end up in that house, as most of the times I’ve apartment hunted, I end up in the first place I saw, even after looking at many other places.  I hope that I was right.


After next week, I’m suspending my search until I return to Baltimore in January, as I’m heading home to Texas for 3 weeks.  Thankfully, there should be a lot going on the market around that time, so it will be a good time to resume my search.  And since I won’t be able to do much other than lay in bed and watch TV for at least a week while I’m recovering from surgery, that sounds like a great time to zone out and refresh Zillow compulsively.

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