My husband and I have been moving around the country for work the past seven years. As native Houstonians, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to settle down back in Texas, set out on a home buying adventure in the North Dallas area, and begin this new chapter of our lives as homeowners.
Well, these aspirations were made in December of 2020 when we were offered the move.
What proceeded was nothing short of a Chevy Chase movie. Buying a home this year was more like playing a game of UNO, but where every card is a “skip turn”. We finally found our home after almost eight months and learned some things along the way.
Here are my six tips that I don’t see many people talking about when it comes to buying a home in NTX!
NTX home buying tip #1: Be sure that you and your partner are on the same page
Okay, so this first one you’ve probably heard but it’s important! If you are buying a home with a partner, it is vital to talk about expectations, wants and needs before starting your home search and will save you loads of time and energy moving forward. Things like commute time, house projects budget, community, school district, etc.
Having at least a basic understanding of what you and your partner agree on and disagree on will be easier for you to spot when you’re out hunting! Your agent will be there as a non bias guide to help you through some tough decisions but remember they are not therapists.
NTX home buying tip #2: Your realtor should want you to find “your” home, not just “any” home
If you’re feeling like your agent isn’t working for you but rather working for their paycheck, you might be right. This was our first home buying experience so everything was new but for our first offer on a home we merely did a higher asking price. We didn’t know about waiving contingencies, and they did nothing to inform us.
After losing that house but being accepted on the next, our inspection came back pretty bad but we weren’t sure what was normal or not and they were no help there either. We ended up taking back our offer because the repairs were endless. It might be your frustration with the market but it also might be that your agent isn’t doing everything they can to have your back. My advice is to study up yourself and find an agent who is ready, knowledgeable and willing to help you along in the process. Our second agent was excellent!
NTX home buying tip #3: Do not skip inspection!
You’ll hear that in ultra-competitive markets like this one, if you don’t waive inspections you aren’t winning any offers. Don’t listen to that; do not skip the home inspection! Sure, it makes your deal look better, on paper but it is not something I would advise.
We backed out of one offer on a home that had been newly renovated. It was the big, beautiful, open floor plan of our dreams. Upon our inspection we learned that the house was essentially sinking and needed a complete foundation repair, pipes were busted all over, the roof was old and falling apart, the attic was a disaster and the whole house was a big facade!
Home inspections are vital to knowing what exactly you’re getting into. If we had skipped out on that inspection we would be in a world of trouble right now.
Some red flags to look out for:
- A house that has been listed and unlisted many times
- A house that is frequently turning over agents
- A house that does not list any papers or previous inspections
- A house that has made many price reductions
NTX home buying tip #4: Is it worth the 12 months of ramen noodles you’ll be eating afterwards?
Start by setting some boundaries for your finances. Before you can evaluate your options, you have to know how much house you can afford.
If you need to save longer so you don’t have to compromise what you want, then do that! If you live in an unaffordable market, it’ll probably take you longer to be financially ready to buy a home and that’s okay.
If you’re not willing or able to wait then it might be time to revisit your must-haves list. My biggest tip though is to broaden your search. Our house hunting started in North Dallas but we found exactly what we were looking for in Plano.
NTX home buying tip #5: Write the letter
We weren’t believers until it got us our home. Our realtor really helped us out with writing this letter as we were burnt out. But unbelievably, we were told that our letter helped push our offer over the edge. The sellers loved our story because we wanted to raise our kids in this house, and owned dogs which they did as well. They even left us homemade dog treats in the freezer for our furry friends.
They wanted to make sure the next owners of their home were the right ones. So yes, it may seem tedious but you never know, you might get lucky with your seller and their personal connection to the home. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Write the letter.
NTX home buying tip #6: Offer a rentback
One item that helped our bid was offering “rentback” to our seller. Essentially, during a rentback, the property closes and the buyers (now owners) are getting paid rent from the sellers (now tenants). This helps both parties if the sellers need more time to move out (or purchase a new home) and if the buyers need more time to line up their lease end date with their move in date.
In total, we made eleven offers and viewed over seventy homes in order to find our current home. It wasn’t an easy road but it was worth the wait. We couldn’t be happier in our new Plano home, running around our first backyard with our dogs and sipping cold sweet tea in our living room. The journey may take one month or seven but you too can find your home, even in this crazy market.