Back in March, when we realized we were probably staying in Rochester, we started looking for a house. For some, houses are a way to obtain status and of course financial equity. For us, it was mostly a means to assure we could get a dog and a backyard that we could let it outside into. Of course the whole equity thing is nice too.
So here are my tips for house buying (especially for residents and nurses):
1) Identify why you want a house. It’s a big decision! Yes, the mortgage may be cheaper than your rent, but when you factor in maintenance, lawn duties, and things breaking… It’s an investment of time and money. Make sure you want and need a house. Renting is a perfectly acceptable choice.
2) Talk to a bank. Get preapproved. Find a loan officer you like because you’ll probably have to talk to them. Know how much you can afford before you fall in love with a house far, far beyond your price range.
Note – we got preapproved on my income. It’s trickier to get a loan with a resident’s income. You’ll have to shop lenders, and you may have to rent first and get some “paycheck proof” built up.
3) Some people wander through the woods and stumble into the yard of their dream house, finding a “for sale by owner” sign staked into the front yard (true story!)
My advice for everyone else… get a great realtor. Our realtor, Jennifer Mitchell, was awesome. She made herself available for last-minute house hunting trips, answered all our random ignorant questions, and responded quickly to texts, emails and phone calls. She also had a great sense of humor and made looking at dozens of houses as fun as possible. She also helped us clarify our “wish list” which leads me to # 4…
4) Make a couple lists, “wants” and “needs” and use that to narrow down what you’re looking for – and update the lists as you oook. At the beginning we looked at a lot of different houses all over Rochester and we soon figured out that was inefficient. We honed in on the type of house we ended up with… Newer ranch style on the west side of town with a fenced back yard and large kitchen, reasonably close to the hospital, and requiring relatively little updating.
(FYI this blog will never turn into an account of our home remodeling projects because we’re not really that kind of couple. Fixtures? Maybe. Redo a bathroom? Doubtful!)
5) Be patient and give yourself lots of time. We had just despaired offending anything and talked to our landlord about extending our lease when – ding! – we found 2 houses we liked in the same day. They were both newish ranches on the west side of town. We soon decided we wanted the fenced back yard more than the walk out basement and bought ourselves a house.
I have to say I really like having a house. We have so much room and we can’t hear our neighbors at all. I can park my car in the garage at last (poor thing has never lived in a garage). We’re getting ready to have a dog.
Oh, I’m sure it won’t be a complete cake walk. But for us, this house was a Godsend.