Whether you're ready to move or you're moving in on your goals for the dream home, there's a few ways to make the house hunting process easier, more effective, and get the result you really want. First time purchaser, second, or so on, it's an investment that can be both daunting and exciting, with endless possibilities or seemingly no-end of 'not-it's,' so let's break it down with someone who's living that journey and learning along it!
“If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
— Gaston Bachelard
Look to the List
So you're searching for the dream home, but have you actually started looking to know what is on your list of must haves and your list of maybe's? Yep, it's time to step away from the online listings and pound the pavement, walk through the open homes and even attend auctions if you really want to get an idea of the process. And I say process, not market, because the real estate market will always be doing it's thing, and unless you intend on growing a portfolio or flipping, don't miss your moment worrying about what might be with something no-one can control!
With each new home you view, make notes in your phone immediately after about the things you loved and would like in your ideal house and those you definitely do not want. I suggest one note with three simple headings of 'Must,' 'Maybe,' and 'Must Not.' Consider form, function and fun and you will soon design 3 very succinct lists that gives you and any agent you get serious with a clear indication of what the dream house actually and practically means to you. It will also be a reference point for later negotiation stages and a hinge for discussions about whether a place is worth a higher offer, or even, going over budget for. Similarly, it can be a catalyst for conversations where you feel you might be settling (in more ways than one) for a home that genuinely does not spark joy.
Picture it on Pinterest
Just as the written list is vital, so too is the picture list for visualising the dream house and making it a home. Apart from pinning interior decor schemes you fancy, though, also consider architectural and exterior details, landscaping and styles of the types of homes that actually exist in your search area.
You might love the Hamptons look inside and out, but nothing like this may currently exist in your chosen location. You must be ready, then, to find something similar that can be transformed with a renovation, adjust your search radius, consider a house and land build package (that you can actually customise), or simply identifying specific features that have the look you like and adding them to your Pinterest boards and visit lists.
You might be like me and have a ton of online mood boards for what you want in every room, but remember to streamline your absolute favourite 'Must's' into one 'Dream House' board for sharing with your agent. And remember, don't be too quick to judge a book by it's cover - the inside of a home could reveal far more of the look you like than it does from the facade or even on screen. Do the leg-work and you'll soon learn of builders or styles that lend themselves to your desired aesthetic.
It's crucial to not only be honest with yourself and what you can afford, but also with any estate agents or brokers you speak to. Obviously, you don't have to divulge your whole life story or reveal bank accounts, but be classy and calmly explain you're either looking to develop your list or you're finance approved and ready to rumble. You know yourself how frustrating it feels to be led on by someone claiming to be someone else or have something they do not, plus, how can you expect truthfulness if you are not being it. Be honest with giving your personal contact details as well, as these are professional people who are spending their weekend showing you through someone else's private property - it's only fair that they can reach you to follow-up and build some kind of trust with you.
We have built some great relationships with a few key agents in the short time we have been really doing the looking because we're being completely upfront with them. It helped us to identify who truly understood our position, our needs, who has the types of properties we are after, and most importantly, to be on their radar when new properties become available off-market. Honesty affords opportunity...and helps you sleep at night!
As a side, but equally important note, be respectful when inspecting other's spaces and refrain from taking your own photos if the home is currently occupied. The agent will be able to provide you with all the photographs and information you need, just ask if there's something else you'd like to see or know that isn't provided.
Be Patient, Prepared & Poised
In summary, apart from the probable price difference, buying a home can be much like finding the perfect wedding dress - it's wise to start early, try on everything, be patient in sourcing exactly what you want, know what you want with potential backups in mind, be ready to act swiftly when you find 'the one', and keep a level head with the people who are trying to help you buy right and help themselves make a sale at the same time.
It's a dance and one that you requires you on the dance floor to be dancing. Be in the process, enjoy the journey, and even if you feel you're nowhere near being able to make the dream house happen just yet, use this as motivation to start the ball rolling. Speak to several financial institution and advisers, start listing, looking, and pinning, and position yourself to make your dream a reality. And love where you live right now, because an attitude of gratitude is a magnet for miracles!
“Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful.”
— Hazrat Inayat Khan