I thought buying a home would be as easy as it seems on "Fixer Upper," but it ended up taking 4 months and tons of my time
Summary List PlacementWhen I left Seattle in June to buy a house in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, I had no idea that it'd be September before I had the keys to a house in my hands. It took me about four months to find the right place. As a first-time homebuyer, I had no idea what to really expect from the process until I was in it. And shopping in a newly hot market during a pandemic certainly added to the timeline. I didn't expect it to take months, and the fact that it took so long made it difficult to plan my living situation and budget while I looked. As a first-time homebuyer, I had very little idea of what the process would entail. While it all worked out in the end, I had expected something quite different, and I wish that I'd had different expectations going into it. I figured it'd be like it is on TV, but it was far from it I watch reality TV more than I'd like to admit — find me any given weeknight watching "House Hunters" or "Fixer Upper." I know that shows like this are farther from the truth than the name of the genre implies. But since I didn't have any other experiences with the process of finding and buying a home, I was expecting something at least sort of like what I saw on TV. Much to my chagrin, finding the right house was nothing like the first 10 minutes of "Fixer Upper." On the show, buyers see three homes and choose from those before Chip and Joanna Gaines work their magic. The buyers always get the house that they choose. It's a whole process condensed into just a few minutes, but it always seemed so easy and simple. Given that, I hadn't expected to need my patience as much as I did — I visited probably 15 houses in my search, and apparently, that's relatively few. Several times when I tried to make an offer, the house was already pending sale by the time I got to it. I'm not sure how the TV magic works, but there must be some behind the scenes. In my experience, it was simply not that easy. From my hours of binge-watching, I can't recall ever seeing buyers lose a house to a bidding war or not being quick enough to make an offer. But, in my process, that was the reality. It made me realize that my expectations were tied to experiences that are far from typical.
A global pandemic made an already-complicated process more complicated Needless to say, I've since learned that homebuying is a complicated process that takes a long time. But looking back on my experience, having a global pandemic in the mix didn't help the process along, either. To start, it made my pre-approval process more difficult, as one of the banks I'd been planning to work with suddenly tightened their lending standards. It meant more work on my end, and added a few days to the pre-approval process. On top of that, the demand for homes in the area where I was searching was much higher than usual. Prices were higher than normal, and bidding wars weren't uncommon. On top of that, homes were being snatched off the market in mere hours. The home I ended up buying was only on the market for a few hours before I made a last-minute appointment to see it on a Saturday morning, and made an offer on it that afternoon. The housing market started to have an unlikely moment during the coronavirus pandemic. Mortgage applications hit an 11-year high during the pandemic, Business Insider's Carmen Reinicke reports. Additionally, more buyers are competing for a smaller inventory of homes. The pandemic and the increased homebuying demand it's created ultimately lengthened my search. It meant many cancelled appointments due to pending offers, and missing out on homes I liked. I wish I could go back in time and tell my past self what to expect. I'd tell myself to be more patient, and lay off the homebuying TV, too. In the beginning, my expectations were pretty far off. But in the end, it all worked out — I got a house I'm obsessed with, and that fits my budget comfortably. I certainly don't regret my purchase. Despite the long process, the end result is exactly what I hoped for. Related Content Module: More Mortgage CoverageJoin the conversation about this story »
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There aren't many deals in this housing market, but there are for luxury shoppers. The top...There aren't many deals in this housing market, but there are for luxury shoppers. The top 5% of homes on the market dropped in price this spring, even as non-luxury house prices gained, per Redfin data. The fall at the top end came as low inventory and soaring demand have led to overall price growth — with the median home price setting a new record high in June. Luxury prices began to rise over a 7-day period in June, however, indicating that if you're shopping at the high end of the market, it's time to get off the sidelines. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The coronavirus pandemic did weird things to house prices. It raised them. But it also created bargains at the top end of the market. Luxury sales had been on a steady upswing dating from last October to this March, before they quickly went into reverse, according to a Redfin report. The median luxury price nationwide started to decline in the 12 weeks ending March 29 and saw its biggest dip — a 2.5% year-over-year decline — in the 12 weeks ending June 7. Over the 12 weeks ending June 14, on the other hand, the median sale price for non-luxury homes was up by more than 4%. The median house price overall set a new high in June, as demand outstripped overall supply in the market. Redfin economist Taylor Marr pointed to the luxury market's sensitivity in times of uncertainty. "Many luxury buyers are nervous about pouring money into an investment that may be difficult to sell if the economy takes a nosedive," Marr said in the report. But top agents like Beverly Hills' Tomer Fridman have told Business Insider that the luxury market is hot, with Southern California's platinum triangle —a sought-after region of Los Angeles comprised of Bel Air, Holmby Hills, and Beverly Hills — as in demand as ever. Time for luxury buyers to get off the sidelines The Redfin data also shows a budding rebound in the high-end market after June 7, though. Over the seven days from June 7 to June 14, the median luxury price was up 3.5% year-over-year. The report cautioned the smaller sample size from this shorter timeframe is less indicative of long-term trends, but provides a market snapshot of a kind. "Luxury home prices have likely already bottomed out," Marr said in the report. "Price growth may continue to be lower than last year through the summer and fall, but with smaller drops as the months go on." He said the price increases in early June may represent pent-up demand as buyers who were scared off in previous months may have emerged. He predicted the top end of the real estate market will continue to recover more slowly than the rest of it. It's why if you're in the market for high-end real estate, there hasn't been a time recently when you could get a better deal.SEE ALSO: Fredrik Eklund, the founder of a bicoastal team that signed $100 million in new contracts in one week, swears by this daily routine from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship
I am currently in the process of buying my first home, and one of the more...I am currently in the process of buying my first home, and one of the more confusing (and frustrating) aspects of first-time homebuying involved the mortgage pre-approval letter. At what point in the process did I need to secure my pre-approval letter? Could I shop around for mortgage rates first? How much…Read more...