Tell me about your home buying experience

Lookiloos via Hooked on Houses

This year marks my fifth living in my condo, my fourth as the owner (it was converted from apartments to condos after I lived here for a year). I never thought this would be my forever home and I've already developed a plan to look for a traditional house once I reach five years of ownership here. I don't know why I picked that just seemed right.

Never one to put off day dreaming today about something that won't be reality until tomorrow, I've already started to casually glance at real estate listings. I used to have some house characteristics in mind, but this browsing has me thinking about very specific locations, down to the actual street.

I'm wondering how other people's home searches went. How long did it take? Did you have specific architecture in mind? Did you limit your search to specific neighborhoods?


  1. My house search took 18 months. We had particular things we were looking for such as it had to be over 100 years old, had to have high ceilings as I am 6ft 2", Had to have the original sash windows and fire places. We found it eventually. Its Victorian and overlooks a park in Sheffield. I can hear the ducks quacking as I am typing!
    After reading many American interior blogs I ve been struck by two things 1) SO many people rent properties. Is this because home ownership is prohibitively expensive or is there a culture of renting?. In the UK people seem to buy as soon as possible even at the moment when the financial situation isn't great and house prices are high.
    2) Your houses are HUGE even the cheap ones ( not taking into account central homes in large cities)

  2. PS whats the difference between a condo and an apartment?

  3. Hi! We have moved a bunch and usually have to find something quickly without the luxury of being too picky. I have loved all of our houses! I usually have three criteria: 1) location, 2) curb appeal (for resale), and 3) flow of the house (I don't like a chopped up floor plan with a lot of little rooms). Good luck and have so much fun!

  4. I'm in my "for-now" home as well and plan on staying until the magic 5-year mark. For my home search, I looked for something in the right location with good investment potential and found it within a couple of months. I suppose it just depends on the market that you're in; mine had a good selection for the type of home I was looking for.

  5. Wishing we could be in our house forever, but have to face the realization that we may have to go through yet another military move, and may not even get to have next Christmas here. After 8 moves in 10 years, we'd really love to stay here - the first house we've been anywhere long enough to purchase.

    Whether buying or renting, we always had certain criteria: Size, location, schools. We're usually on short time to find something. My husband found this house after 1.5 weeks of house-hunting leave, almost non-stop with an awesome group of realtors. The internet listings and tours proved a huge help, as I was clear cross country back in CA (we're now in VA).

  6. we didn't start off looking for a house, we started looking at larger apartments. while looking at a potential rental, we met the person who became our realtor and he pointed out with as much as we were willing to spend on a rental and as much as we wanted out of our rental, we could get a decent house if we were willing to look in another part of the city. we left that meeting, drove 5 miles south, went to a few open houses, and started looking with the realtor and talking to a lender later that week. we were limited to certain areas of the city with our price range, and i wanted something older with character that needed some work. we also had some issues because a lot of the houses around us are 1.5 stories (meaning the second floor has sloped ceilings) and my 6'-4" husband could not stand up in them.

    our first house is not our forever house - i actually did a post about this a year ago: - hopefully that answers some of the questions :-)

  7. I doubt we are in our forever home but we could live here comfortably forever if we wanted to. The main problem is Newark's schools aren't the best but we don't have kids yet, so I'm not thinking about it.

    We were ready to be done renting and needed something with easy mass transit access for Rob, so, for now, this is the best location for us. Within Newark, there were 2 neighborhoods we were looking at and we kept coming back to this one. It's great for my commute, we got more bang for our buck here {rather than the other neighborhood}, and it'll be easily rentable should we decide to move.

  8. We bought our townhouse about a year after we got married once we found out my husband was getting deployed for a year! We wanted to settle in and actually only spent about 2 weeks looking. We knew our price range and the amount of space we wanted, and my husband wanted to live in a specific area, so we jumped in! We lost 1 contract before finding the house we bought and I'm SOOOO glad the other contract fell through because I love our location (walking distance to a lot of stuff) and the size of our house! I'm really sad to be moving but excited for our next adventure (a house we're buying in a new city...and my husband hasn't even stepped foot inside it, ha!)!

  9. we had literally two days and looked at roughly 25 houses. it was really stressful and no surprise we don't love our house. so my advice would be to take your time!

  10. We have owned 2 condos and are now in a house. We never stop looking at the real estate listings. When we lived in Boston (in the condos) we used to pop into open houses while we walked around on Sundays. Its a good idea to always look so you know the great deal when you see it. Plus, you get good ideas for changes/upgrades for the future to the house you currently own.

  11. I wanted something I could pay for in about 15-18 years. I was in a 2 bedroom apt but really wanted a 3rd bedroom for a sewing room.

    I fell in love with the first house in the first neighborhood where I looked. I just couldn't see how to get my furniture to fit in there and I couldn't afford anything new. I continued looking for another couple of weeks then I saw this floor plan which I absolutely loved. I didn't however like the neighborhood: cookie cutter, all new, no HOA, boring. It came down to this house or the first one. I chose this one because I'm not into the outside stuff like gardening, lawn care and so on. If I had the money to build a house I'd put it in a neighborhood with more personality but I'd simply tweak this floor plan, not dramatically change it.


  12. Oooh, how exciting! It's the perfect time to buy! Our home hunting experience was rather boring and uneventful!:(

  13. Suzie is right, it is exciting to look for a new home and the timing is great. I found our co-op in Manhattan during the last big downturn in the market 15 years ago. During the search it was amazing to see so many expensive dumps! As this was going to be the most expensive purchase of our life, I was very picky and drove a lot of brokers crazy. They tended to drop off if I didn't make a decision after seeing a few places. It took about 2 years of intensive looking and I actually toured about 200 places (and learned to demand a floorplan so I could reject those that did not meet my space criteria). Over time, we came to realize we wanted a specific neighborhood, and that we really wanted some outside space. We lucked out with an "estate" sale (i.e. needs MAJOR renovation) and have just finished the third and final stage of renovation. We are very happy with our home and the advice I would offer is not to settle. This will be your home and you should be happy coming back to it at the end of each day. Even in the un-renovated state, we knew it would be great once we fixed it up.
    As a personal choice, I like co-op living for the convenience of having others look after the property. The downside is a lack of real privacy, but it is all a matter of what trade-offs work for you and your lifestyle. I also learned a lot from seeing how my older sister went about her house search. She methodically researched such things as the water system and quality of the police force. This is both an emotional as well as financial decision, and I researched neighborhoods for potential problems that would affect resale.

  14. i live in Canada and our home-buying processes are more stringent than those in the US. it's very difficult to get mortgages on a single income and it was only about 5 years ago that restrictions were loosened as rates dropped. over the past year, they've tightened the restrictions again.

    4 years ago, i moved from the capital of Canada, Ottawa (a city of about a million people in the metro area including Hull-Gatineau in Quebec), to London - a small city of about 350,000 halfway between Toronto and Detroit. housing prices here are easily 1/3 less than those in Ottawa and maybe half of what they would be in Toronto (were i lived before going to Ottawa).

    i work for the provincial gov't tax office - and one of the taxes we administer is a land transfer tax. on July 1st '08, we dropped that tax for first time home buyers. that same month, a federal gov't program that gave qualifying first time buyers a grant equal to the 5% down payment and closing costs came into effect again. the first time around, i didn't qualify because i made too much money and they only had FOUR families qualify. second time around, they raised the income threshold to $50k and with the removal of the LTT, i jumped right in!

    July 3 was the day i started looking. my realtor Jenny is a good friend of a former co-worker. Chantal bought the 3rd house she saw and a month after moving in, a basement flood revealed a lemon. she told Jenny to look after me and J did! if she even suspected a bit of mold was in the house, she would walk me right back out.

    she talked me out of 3 houses with serious problems that i fell in love with.

    this is house #27. it was fully renovated with new appliances. i was the first person to see it the day it went on the market. we went to J's office 2 blocks away and put in an offer right away.

    the owner had gone on vacation for a week, not expecting anything to happen that fast. 8 people were scheduled to see it the next day. not a single one of them showed up.

    i got the house!

    18 months later, i'm still deleriously happy being a homeowner! :-)

    (shout out to Laura and Clarosie - miss you guys!)


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