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Thursday, March 7, 2013
My husband and I bought a new house last week! It all took less than 36 hours. We had done our homework, though, which streamlined the process. What did we do?
1. We identified our absolute "must haves." We decided we must have at least two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage. Since we envision this being our "retirement cottage," we can't see ourselves cleaning snow off our cars when we are 80! By identifying our non-negotiables, we eliminated a large number of properties.
2. We determined a price range. We initially wanted to look into foreclosures to try to get a good deal. It didn't take long, though, to discover that at least in our area, those great deals are non-existent. We looked at one foreclosure property that would require at least $20,000 to update it. We found a new property that was only $10,000 more than the fixer-upper. And we'd have a new house with a one-year warranty! No brainer!
3. We chose a location. Even though we could have gotten more house for our money in a small town a few miles away, we wanted to stay in Bozeman, where our daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter live. They are, after all, the reason we moved to Bozeman!
4. I had looked at online interest rates, so I knew what interest rate we hoped to get. By paying some fees up front, we were able to get a 3.3% interest rate instead of a 3.6 interest rate.
I have been looking at properties since we moved to Bozeman in 2011, but we have not been in a position to buy until recently. Housing prices started going up at the same time we realized we might be able to qualify to purchase a house. So we got to work!
We identified houses we wanted to see and our realtor did the same. After two days of looking, we narrowed it down to the house we preferred.
A few days before, our realtor had told us we needed to be pre-approved for a loan to speed up the process. So we applied online for a loan with our bank. Our in-person loan appointment happened to be the day after we saw "our" house. The loan officer had told us what documents we needed to bring, and we were careful to have everything in order.
Shortly after seeing "our" house, our realtor called and told us that there were two or three others who were interested in the house. She emailed us the real estate forms. We filled out the forms and took them with us to the bank, hoping we would be pre-approved and would be able to take our forms with a pre-approval letter straight to the realtor's office from the bank.
Amazingly, everything went smoothly, and we submitted our contract that afternoon. About an hour and a half later our realtor called to congratulate us!
What a ride! Because we were clear on what we wanted, it streamlined a potentially weeks-long process down to a couple of days! And as an extra bonus, we found out the next day that the same house being sold next door to ours had increased in price by $3000. Our house has already appreciated before we have closed!
We will close April 5, and we're already measuring and pondering! More on that later.
More on buying/selling/moving:
Downsizing - Factors to Consider When Choosing a New Residence
5 Reasons to Declutter Before You List Your Home for Sale
Short-Term and Long-Term Moving