The last few days have been filled with lots of little lessons about the home-buying process. Here are five little anecdotes about things we learned:
Home inspections typically aren’t part of the closing costs. I had just assumed that they were part of typical closing costs, but in our situation, a home inspection is done at our discretion. Thus, when I set up the appointment to have the home inspected, I came off like a complete moron because I thought the bill would be sent to the seller. The pieces that the seller will pay for (as the seller is covering closing costs) are the various checks that will be written at the actual close of the home – we will basically just show up, sign some papers, and walk out with keys.
Be careful which inspector you use. I interviewed several inspectors. All of them seemed fine at first, but as I probed a little, it became clear which ones really had their stuff together. The ones that really separated the wheat from the chaff for me was a request for references, openness to me coming along for the inspection (one person actually said “no” – sorry, that doesn’t cut it), and the details of the report. Don’t just listen to their pitch and take whichever one sounds good – ask a few really probing questions. Here’s some more info on finding a home inspector.
Don’t just enter your contact information to get lots of house insurance quotes unless you want to be deluged with semi-desperate insurance salesmen. A friend of ours did this recently and is still being called about insurance quotes. Instead, just talk to a lot of your friends and acquaintances about their experiences with house insurance and go with the one that seems to come most highly recommended. For me, you’re paying for security, so I’m more interested in finding an insurer that will actually provide security and good customer service rather than one that shaves ten bucks off of the price or keeps calling you trying to sell things.
The whole process is not as scary as I thought it would be – just lots of little things. If you just take things slowly and calmly, the process of buying a home isn’t all that scary – everything largely makes sense. My wife and I talk things over carefully each evening and make sure we both understand everything – and do plenty of research when we don’t. We’re also both taking care of different pieces of the puzzle – she deals with the realtor on a daily basis, while I’ve been talking to the credit union and also scheduling the home inspection.
The anticipation is thick. Once the agreement has been reached and you’re moving through the steps (securing home insurance, having the house inspected, and so on), the anticipation gets ridiculous. My wife and I are almost in a daze with the sheer anticipation of moving into a home. For me, it’s particularly strange – the finished square footage of the home is more than two and a half times the finished square footage of any place I’ve lived in my entire life. It seems almost surreal to have that much space.
And here’s a bonus one:
Banks are wetting their pants over foreclosures right now. We were flat-out told by the mortgage specialist at our credit union that the mortgage market is “very weird” right now because there are so many foreclosures out there floating around and so many people are going “Oh my god refinance!” as their ballooning payments hit and such things. She seemed pretty negative about the short-term future nationwide, which almost shocked me considering we were actually engaged in the process of getting a mortgage.