Let’s just say, my husband and I’s dream forever home seemed just that. A dream. The first place we lived in right after getting married in December 2013 was a 700 sq/ft, 2 bed, 1 bath duplex in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town with an itty-bitty yard. It was great for what we needed and could afford at the time. After a year and a half of renting, we were in a spot financially to start looking for a house.
At that point we had added a puppy to our little family and wanted more room to spread out and to get away from town. We found our first home quickly (the market was in the buyer’s favor during that time). A newly remodeled 1,250 sq/ft, 3 bed, 1 bath rambler, with a detached shop, sitting on nearly half an acre in my grandparents old neighborhood that I spent a lot of time at during my childhood years. Our new place was also a lot closer to where I grew up and about 20 minutes to the closest town. We loved our house and made it our own over the next few years, but we knew it would not be our forever home.
We had talked about our dreams and both agreed that we wanted land and room for animals. I grew up in a rural area on 5 acres, surrounded by 35 more. I missed being surrounded by trees and having space to let our pets just be. There was no need to kennel our dogs growing up, we could walk outside in our underwear with no worries of neighbors seeing us, and it was so quiet and comforting with no street noises and smells. Josh grew up pretty different from me, always living on the outskirts of town in neighborhoods, but after getting a taste of living further away from the hustle and bustle of town, he was sold. Living in a handful of different places, we had both gathered up our ideal forever home.
Everyone’s dream forever home is drastically different I’m sure, but here are 5 tips to help you with your endeavor.
1Set your budget, and stick to it. When my husband and I first sat down and decided it was time to start searching for a dream home, we knew we had a budget to stick to. Going all the way back to back when we sold our first house in May 2018, we budgeted the profit from our house sale. Our budget items included the purchase of our skoolie and a down payment for our forever home we planned to purchase in the future. Knowing the amount we had set aside for a down payment, we consulted with our lender to know what our price range was for a house or property. Knowing what our maximum price tag was, I could easily set the filters on my real estate apps to only show properties that we could afford.
2Make a list of your absolute “wants”, but be flexible. Boy oh boy was our list of “wants” hefty! Our list consisted of: acreage (preferably 5+ acres), flat, usable land, a 1,500-2,000 sq/ft rambler, 2+ bathrooms, a detached shop, and in a very specific location (close to state land, preferable Tahuya State Forest so we could ride our dirt bikes from our yard to trail). With our extensive list, and not much luck, we new we had to be flexible. After many months of not finding anything, we expanded our search to include mobile homes and fixer uppers, and that was the trick! In one day, 2 mobile homes were listed that had most of our ‘wants’, and after viewing both of them, we ended up putting an offer in on one. A 5 acre mini farm. The land was level, 90% cleared, sectioned into 6 pastures, included a barn, a detached shop, 5 other storage sheds, an 1,800 sq/ft mobile home (3 bed, 2 bath), and in our ideal location where we could hop on our dirt bikes and ride directly onto hundreds of miles of trails. So you’re wondering where we were flexible? The place was definitely a fixer upper, and we knew if we bought it, we would eventually build a stick-built house and remove the mobile home. But to us, it was worth it.
3Find yourself a fantastic real estate agent. I lucked out in this area because my aunt, Daphne Gibler with Re/Max, is an incredible agent with extensive knowledge about the market, and many years of experience under her belt. She also helped us purchase and sell our first home. If your search was anything like ours, you will be spending a lot of time communicating with your agent. I could text or call Daphne any time and she was on it. The market in our area has been hot, hot, hot. Houses would be listed for 1 or 2 days and receive multiple offers over asking price, so we all had to be on it. The property we ultimately ended up purchasing was listed on a Friday, Josh and I did a drive-by that same day, called Daphne, and she set up an appointment to view it the next day. After viewing it on Saturday and deciding to put in an offer, all 3 of us worked with our lender, and Daphne advised us on submitting the strongest offer possible. our offer was complete and submitted on Sunday. We were crushed and shocked when we found out our offer wasn’t accepted. Thankfully Daphne was proactive and talked with the selling agent. The selling agent made some errors and ended up advising the seller to accept a different offer who’s loan type wasn’t eligible, so in the end, our offer was accepted. Without a fantastic agent, we probably wouldn’t have gotten our dream home.
4Have patience. It took over a year to find what we were looking for. I looked at hundreds of houses online, we viewed over 10 houses in person, submitted offers on at least 4, and came within a few days of closing on one house. There were a few points where we wanted to settle for something because we were tired of looking and getting our hopes up, but we stuck with it. Josh and I were lucky enough to be in a situation where we weren’t under pressure to purchase a house because we lived in a bus which helped the cause.
5 Stayed organized and alert. Buying a house or property of any sort is a longgg, tedious process. You will need to provide oodles of documents and financial statements and read and sign countless more. Make sure to stay in communication with your lender and real estate agent to make sure they have what they need from you and vise versa. Have a place where all of your hard copy documents live that can be accessed quickly, and create an email folder dedicated to your purchase. From the time we submitted our offer until closing day was 54 days for us and we were exchanging emails, phone calls, and texts with our lender and agent multiple times a week.
We have gone on quite the journey to find the perfect place to call our own but it was worth it. If you’re in the market, I wish you the best in your hunt!