House Hunting: Expectations vs. Realities

House Hunting: Expectations vs. Realities

As you start down the house buying process, there are a lot of give and takes when it comes to finding “the one”.

House Hunting: Expectations vs. Reality

This post has been sponsored by National Association of REALTORS ®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As you know if you’re following me regularly, we’re in the thick of prepping to sell our house and buy a new house. We’ve been talking about it for the last few years and we’re finally buckling down and getting serious. A month ago we hosted a garage sale to start decluttering. I’ve realized that’s around step #3 of 2,279 (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration.)

Even though we’ve been through the process before, I kind of forgot what was truly all involved in the process (kind of like childbirth, you quickly forget once it’s over!). Since I’m in the thick of it, I thought I’d share my top five Expectations vs. Realities realized (so far).

Expectation #1: We’re so excited to be buying a house, this will be fun!

Reality #1: It IS exciting! Whether it’s your first house or your third, the possibilities of a new house and a new chapter are filled with hope. You’ll stop calling it “fun” after the first few weekends of looking though.

Unless you find “the one” right away, you’ll be looking at a lot of houses and spending quite a bit of time doing it. They don’t call it house hunting for no reason. We try to keep it somewhat enjoyable with treating ourselves to lunch or dinner out or drinks on our patio if we’re doing a full day of looking. In reality though, often you’re squeezing in a viewing between everything else in your life, so make sure to reward yourself periodically. If you’re dragging bringing your kids along, don’t forget the iPad. Carter enjoys running through a house for about 3 minutes to check out where his room might be and then quickly gets bored listening to adults talk about the details.

Expectation #2: It’s easy as 1-2-3.

We’ll find a house, put in an offer, and pack up our stuff to move.

Reality #2: There are SO many steps to the process.

Everything that goes along with house hunting, deals, mortgages, legal stuff, etc. can be a full time job – and we both already have one of those! Even though I’ve been down this path before I kind of forgot how much is involved.

When we bought our current house, we had a pretty specific neighborhood we were looking at. It was a hot market, much like it is now, and homes were selling at or above their listing prices. We lost 2 houses before we got this one due to bids that weren’t competitive. We learned the hard way that an offer isn’t always about just the price. Deals can get hung up with asks like closing costs, what stays with the house, closing timing, etc. A Realtor® can help you understand where to push and where to give.

In many aspects of life, I’m obviously a DIY’er, but in others, I’m very happy to work with a professional who knows what they’re doing. When it comes to home buying and selling, I’m all for outsourcing to a pro! Thankfully we have a trusted friend who is a Realtor®. If you don’t know someone personally, ask for referrals from friends who have had a stellar experience or search for one at I’d suggest having your own Realtor® representing you and not just going through the listing agent.

Expectation #3: With all the websites and apps available, I can do it all myself.

Reality #3: You’re missing out on some of the info.

I’ve practically turned real estate apps like, into a hobby. They’ve replaced Pinterest as my nighttime wind down. They’re great for getting a sense of what you want in a house and ruling out places you may have otherwise had to spend time going to visit just to find out the layout is a no go. I’ve recently figured out that a lot of houses aren’t listed on these apps in real time. By the time I see them show up, they’re already pending in this fast selling market.

House Hunting: Expectations vs. Reality
These apps and websites are truly awesome as a tool to work with a Realtor® though. It’s the best way give them an idea of what we’re wanting – love this kitchen, dislike the wasted space of the dining room. Like the walkout basement, but dislike the major slope in the yard. It starts a dialog on what’s a deal breaker and what’s not.

Expectation #4: We love each other, of course we’ll love the same house.

Reality #4: We are different people, and while we can agree on most dealbreakers, we have different wish list items.

Todd is the stereotypical person looking at house where he immediately picks out things like wall colors, appliances or tile in the bathroom he doesn’t like. No vision… and he readily admits it! Sometimes it’s nice to have a third party to help point out the things that are cosmetic without having the partner be the one to always do it. I swear a Realtor® is also a trained mediator and marriage counselor! It’s good to talk through the serious must haves and nice to haves like we did recently. I love a good list! As you start to look at houses, you can really refine the list.

House Hunting: Expectations vs. Reality

Expectation #5: You’ll get everything you want.

Reality #5: You will have to make some compromises.

Unless you’re designing and building your dream house, it’s not likely that every box will be ticked on your wish list. As you start to look at more and more houses, compromise sets in. It’s not always compromise with each other either, it can be with your budget, location or any number of your must haves vs. nice to haves list. Working with a Realtor®, we’re able to articulate those things and have them do the leg work on finding a house that checks the most of our important criteria.

Our more immediate reality is a logistics one. Do we sell first or buy first? While I don’t want to be stuck with two mortgages, I also don’t want to be forced into deciding on a house because we’re pressed to move out of this one. We’ve already been looking for a while. Right now we’re focused on getting our house ready to sell so we can put it on the market as soon as we find one.

Have you been through the house buying process recently, what would you add to the list of expectations vs. realities?



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