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The Joys of Home Buying: 23 Easy Steps

 My goal for this blog is to become a better blog that lots of people want to read. A friend of mine (Brad Chaffee, who has an awesome personal finance blog) suggested I try the 31 Day Better Blog Challenge. It's only taken me a month to get to day 2, but you have to do what you can do.
 So, day 2 is "Write a list post". I had been planning to write a post about the joys of home buying, so I transformed it into the day 2 list. I hope you enjoy. Please let me know as I work through the 31 days if you see some improvement. Thanks for reading.

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  We have been home owners for twelve years now. Owning three houses in that time, we have gone through the "process" enough that I have noticed some patterns in house buying. This is not a commentary on the Real Estate market, but a list of steps that happen while you are buying a house. Whether you want them to or not.

1) Figure out your budget
  The funny thing about budgets, they are often polar opposites of our "must haves" in our first house. We wander through houses saying, " I'd like to have a pool and a game room for the kids." Your wallet is listening to this and trying to bring you back to reality, "Well, I think I can get you four walls. Will that work?"

2) Find a realtor
  The right realtor is an important person in your house hunting process. They are the one who can wade through the ocean of available houses and show you the ones your wallet approves ("Have you heard your wallet? It said four walls. It didn't say they had to connect to each other.")

3) Go house hunting
  This just sounds fun, doesn't it? A carefree day, wandering through beautifully staged homes, ending with the house of your dreams. If this is what you envision, you clearly haven't hunted before. After the first few, you quickly realize that your wallet was right and is silently laughing at you.

4) Realize your budget is anemic
  This is often a side effect of the first house hunting trip. Nothing you can do. Just have a drink and let it settle in.

5) Swallow pride and house hunt again
  After you've had some time to absorb reality, and a few gin and tonics, tell your wallet where it can stuff it's I-told-you-so, because it's time to get back up on the proverbial horse and try again.

6) Find the "perfect" house
  Eventually, you will find a house that meets enough of your criteria that it just feels like home.  It's an awesome feeling, until you remember that your home is still owned by someone else.

7) Make an offer
  So, with your trusty realtor, you make an offer, considering all the factors like "time on market" and "comparables" (which you nod wisely at but actually have no idea what they mean). Then you wait until...

8-16) Receive a counter offer, make another offer
  This can take anywhere from a few days to 47 years, depending on how busy everyone is (and by everyone, I mean the realtors).

17) Finally agree
  After a lot of posturing and negotiations, you will finally come to an agreement that absolutely no one is at all happy with. But that's OK, because you will now have your home.

18) Apply for a mortgage
  This is a bittersweet moment. Sweet because it is helping you get the house of your dreams in which you can create a home for your family for years to come. Bitter because you are going to owe the bank hundreds of thousands of dollars, which you will be paying back on an amortized schedule. For 30 years. They make it look nice by saying "360 monthly payments", but the fact remains that you will be closer to retirement than graduation when you get it paid off. So... congratulations!

19)Panic over 30 years of monthly payments
  Once the last point sinks in, you'll see.

20) Have a house inspection
  It wouldn't be a true house buying experience without the house inspection. This is done by a professional who climbs all over your future house looking in spots that even the builders didn't realize were there. Once he has looked at all the potential issue spots, he will give you a report on what may need to be fixed once you buy the property.

21) Panic that the house is about to collapse under its own weight after the inspection report
  Be ready. When the house inspector tells you everything that is wrong, you will likely experience a feeling of reticence (or what we here at Better Than We Deserve like to call "panic") at buying a house that seems ready to fall in on itself. Do not worry. That will not happen. Houses are very sturdy. Just because the walls are paper thin and there was never any insulation installed, the house will stand. And I've heard a full four walls isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

22) Sign your name 1,362 times. And initial at the bottom.
  The actual signing of papers to buy the house takes, in conservative estimates, 3.5 times as long as you spent finding the house. Bring the sleeping bags. When you walk into the room to sign all the paperwork, you will see a stack taller than most Shetland ponies. Please make sure to do some hand exercises leading up to the signing. There's nothing more sad than the dream of home ownership derailed by a hand cramp.

23) Get the keys to your new house
  Honestly, I find this part a bit anti-climactic. Once you have agreed to make 360 monthly payments (and possibly give away some major organs) they hand you a small key ring with a few keys on it. That's it. No fanfare, no confetti, not even a cheese plate. Just "Here you go, enjoy your house. Next!". And off you go, to learn your next lesson about home ownership: Maintenance.

  I hope this list has brought some light to the shockingly easy process of home buying. It may seem daunting, but don't get yourself into a tizzy. It's really nothing compared the pure, unbridled enjoyment you get when you are moved in and realize from now on you have to actually fix the stuff that goes wrong.

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