is not my favorite thing to do. Ask Bill or my parents - I find it a very overwhelming process. First off, it's a huge decision! Not only are houses expensive, but this is not an easily reversible decision. It's not like buying a pair of shoes that turn out to not exactly fit you right - you can't return a house! And then there's the issue of taking two people and a dog into account. Bill and I are on the hunt (and have been, for several months) for the home of our dreams - at least, one as close as we can get within our price range.
So just a few tips to anyone who, like me, may find it stressful and/or frustrating. Actually, these might as well be tips I should print out and carry around with me.
1). House buying takes patience. Lots and lots of it. Now, I don't put much weight into astrology and horoscopes but the one thing Aries are not known for is patience, and well, let's just say I am a very typical Aries. You have to wait to look at houses, wait to make offers, wait to hear back, wait for negotiations, wait for inspections, wait to find one you like, etc...
2). House hunting involves a lot of steps. It's not just picking one out and purchasing it. There are many visits to a home, plus lots of paper work and negotiations. I only know this because Bill and I got pretty close to purchasing one in the fall, but the inspection turned up too many problems (it was a foreclosure home).
3). It's next-to-impossible to find a home that has every thing you are looking for, especially if you are in a budget that is not half a million dollars. Chances are, especially when there is more than one person involved, it's going to be difficult finding a house that fulfills all requirements. I mean, I couldn't care less whether I have a home with a garage, but it's a big deal to Bill. On the flip side, I'd love a porch or sunroom, but I don't think it's a deal-breaker for Bill.
4). People have very varied tastes. While the plaid wallpaper or framed doilies may not be your cup of tea, people like what they like. Try to look beyond the knick-knacks and the cat statues, and past the colors and carpets, and see each home as a blank canvas. My favorite part of house hunting is imagining what colors I would put in each room, and how I would arrange the furniture that Bill and I already own (and of course, I dream about what furniture I would buy!)
5). Learn from each home you look at. When we began the whole house hunting process, I really didn't know what I wanted. I've lived in the same house since 1991, and I love it. It fits my family well, I have my own room, it's in a quiet neighborhood - but I didn't really know what it was that I really wanted in a home of my own. Looking at houses has made me realize that I want a good-sized kitchen (my parents' one is huge, while Bill's current one is the size of a walk-in closet, it feels like); I want a bathroom off the master suite, and I want a yard for my puppy. The list goes on, but each house is an opportunity to learn what I either do like, or what I really want to avoid.
6). Things all work out in the end. Maybe the reason Bill and I haven't been able to buy our dream home yet is because we actually haven't found it...