NOTES FROM A FREQUENT HOME BUYER
Carol Morter is a client of mine who has seen the United States the hard way – by moving to a lot of them! With her father in the military she had a nomadic childhood. Now, her husband Wayne is in the energy business. “It’s like military life,” Carol jokes, “it just pays better!” The couple has been married 36 years and lived in eight states, some more than once. In each state they bought a home, frequently without an advance trip to do a thorough search. Seattle was different. Here they rented for six months while waiting for their home in Austin to sell, and really got to know Seattle neighborhoods better. Based on her extensive home buying experience, she shares her insights below. Thank you, Carol, and we look forward to hearing more about your real estate experiences in future blogs. – Marilyn
Finding the right home, and the right area, in a new city that you don’t know, will always depend on your current circumstances.
When my husband Wayne and I were right out of college we got stuck in a small Illinois oil town. We didn’t have children, so we just wanted an affordable house that we liked. Over time, I have come up with some invaluable tips to avoid home buying mistakes.
Don’t choose a neighborhood just because co-workers live there.
Everyone in Wayne’s company lived in new-home suburbia. We preferred older homes with character, and enjoyed working around the house. So, instead of a newer home in the suburbs we bought a fixer-upper in a location we liked better. It was a cool house, a bungalow, one of those former Sears kit homes. We also wanted to be near enough to town to walk to shopping and restaurants. The house was closer to where Wayne worked and we liked that we made friends with ‘Townies’!
Don’t focus on schools before your kid is even potty-trained!
You can always move down the road if needed. We had a son, and all of a sudden started freaking out about schools. He was five years away from kindergarten! We felt we had to buy in the suburbs. Wrong! At that time of our lives the suburbs weren’t right for us. We feared our souls would be sucked out by all the conformity. Also, we didn’t even check out the city schools, which was ignorance on our part.
Once again, use the ‘Me’ criteria: Can I afford it? Do I enjoy the neighborhood? Is it close to work? Downtown Tulsa and Denver would have been great places to live. There were many family friendly areas that we didn’t explore.
Don’t buy in a place you hate!
We had to relocate to Hobbs, New Mexico. A super drag. Wayne’s company bought our Denver house and pressured us to buy in New Mexico. We did. He quit in less than a year and we were stuck renting that house for almost three years. Right after we left, the whole oil industry pulled out and there was no one to buy our house. We would have been much better off renting.
Below, historical photos of the yard and exterior of Carol’s Magnolia House, before and after her renovations.