Lot’s of space! Granite counter tops! Curb appeal! When looking for a new house it’s easy to get caught up in wanting more, more more.
If you have the perfect house your life inside it will be perfect too. Right? After all, the bank said you can afford it, and they should know. Really?
I was talking to an interesting guy yesterday named Bill. He’s a broker in the Sacramento area starting a business around surviving the American dream . He is concerned about people overspending when buying a home and the consequences to their relationships and finances. His goal is to help people buy homes that are more aligned with their values.
We seem to think alike.
We talked about my home buying journey. It all started with a mobile home I paid $7k for and put on my credit card. After living there a few years I sold it for 3 times as much and carried the loan at something like 13% interest (this was awhile ago).
This helped me level up to a townhome in Anaheim Hills, CA where I lived for many years. At one point I bought a one bedroom condo to rent out, but somehow had the insight to sell it just before the real estate market crashed in 2008.
If you’ve been reading my posts you know that I cashed out my town home in 2016 and moved to a small town in Missouri, where I am living happily today. The equity in my California home paid for the move and new house in full. Since then I have moved one more time to something that felt better for me. In small towns, the inventory of homes for sale can be quite low and I had limited choices when I first moved here.
Every time I was buying a home, I sought comfort and affordability and it has served me well. I don’t need fancy counter tops, luxury, or to keep up with the neighbors. I chose where I am living now because it is full of light, has a back porch with a park-like view, and when I stepped in the door I knew I could feel at home here.
As Bill and I talked, I felt an idea coming to me for a potential program or blog post about steps to take before you start looking for a house. Here is what I came up with.
4 Steps to Take Before Looking for a New Home
Know Your Numbers: Don’t let the bank tell you what you can afford. Decide for yourself. Look carefully at your income and the trade offs of spending more. For example, would buying a home that was more expensive mean you would be trapped in a stressful job or have to commute and have less time with your family. Be clear what you feel comfortable affording before you look. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you are house shopping.
Get Clear about What You Want: A house is a house. Creating a life is what you do inside of it. Beyond the number of bedrooms, baths, yard, and neighborhood, the rest is pretty optional.
Think about the life you want to create. You are likely to realize it’s not about fancy features, but more about a comfortable space where your family can thrive. Usually buying affordably and leaving some money in the bank is the best way to go. After all, would you rather have an all new kitchen or be able to travel? Experts will tell you that experiences outweigh things in the long run.
Make a List: List out features that you would like in your new home. Don’t forget to include things like an outdoor space or light coming in the windows in addition to appearance. Highlight the must haves so you are clear. Take these lists with you when you look at houses. They will help you stay on track.
Set a Clear Intention for Your Home Buying Journey: Decide in advance what you want and how you want to be in the process, and make a commitment to it.
Here’s an example: I intend to be clear headed as I search for my next comfortable and affordable home, focusing on my priorities, how a home will feel, and making the best deal possible.
Moving forward with an intention will help you stay focused on what you really want and not get caught up in wanting more.
Following these steps will create a solid foundation for your home buying journey. I believe they will help you make the best choice, just as they have for me.
So, what do you think? Should I create a program for future home buyers?
In the meantime, if you would like coaching support as you prepare to purchase your next home or make a big change, I would love to help. You can contact me here.