It’s been about 2 weeks since I shared the news that I’m house hunting, so I figured it’s a good time to check in. I’ve seen about 20 houses all over the city of Seattle, some were awesome, some were terrible… and some we didn’t even step inside because the exterior was so frightening! I’ve viewed houses where it feels like a cattle call, tiny 1,000 sqft homes with 30 other people in them all doing the same thing I’m doing. It’s super intimidating and scary, no lie. Today I want to share a few of the random, weird things I’ve seen and learned during the house hunting process.
My agent, Julia Tsurusaki, has been a rockstar and truly has had my best interests in mind. She’s the first to say she can’t picture me in a certain house and that we should move on — she really, really gets it and understands what my goal is for this entire process. And that’s been hugely helpful. I went into this process having NO idea what I was looking for and totally overwhelmed by the options. Townhouse, condo, single-family home… house boat! Seriously, there are so many options and Julia was really instrumental in helping me to prioritize my search to being strictly about stand-alone houses with a small yard.
Having a great real estate agent on my side has been hugely helpful because I’m essentially doing this all by myself. I’m an independent lady (woo!), buying her first home all on her own… not exactly a low-stress situation. I trust myself to make a good decision, but every once in a while I think we all need to bounce thoughts off of someone else. Thankfully, Julia has been a great person to do that!
Also thanks to Julia, I have a way more open mind when it comes to the potential of each home. During some of our first tours she gave me some advice: you’re not going to find every single thing you want in a property; instead, the key is to find something that checks most of the boxes. I went into this process with a list the length of my arm of everything I “needed” my new home to have. Clawfoot tub, yard, 3 bedrooms, hardwood floors, parking… it was kiiiind of unrealistic, especially considering my budget.
Thanks to a background in construction and contracting, Julia has helped me see how I can potentially add in those things that a home may not necessarily already have. She knows what my priorities are (good light, location, a space to work, an awesome yard for Noodle) and is helping me get there — all while helping me to understand where I can compromise.
I can’t even tell you how important it is to pick an agent that you love, especially considering the amount of time you spend together! There was a span of time where we saw each other 4 days in a row. Before I even started looking at houses, I met with several agents and made the decision to go with Julia based on who I felt most comfortable with… and who I could get a beer with and drop some f-bombs. To me, that’s important. I just wanted to feel like I could totally be myself because this process is so stressful.
Then there’s the $$$ side of things. Again, Julia was super helpful in that arena. She gave me a list of lenders she’s worked with personally for her own properties and helped me navigate the entire process of reaching out, knowing which questions to ask, etc. Ultimately, I ended up getting the warm-and-fuzzies from the awesome team over at Umpqua Bank here in Seattle (hi, Matt and Amy!). They really took the time to answer every. single. one. of my questions in full and in terms that I understand. Seriously, that right there is why I decided to work with then. So much of this process has been totally over my head that I am looking for clarity anywhere I can get it!
Another tidbit that might help you when starting your house search: in a fast-moving, cutthroat market like what we have here in Seattle, you need to be very careful about which lender you select. Often times, houses receive multiple offers and your offer can be helped by having the right lender attached to it. For example, often sellers like to see smaller, local banks instead of national banks because they know that the smaller bank will be able to move faster and have all of the info. It basically comes down to whether there is 1 person handling your loan or you have to call an 800-number and deal with whoever is at the other end. Something that sort of blew my mind!
And to share a bit of news… I put in an offer on a property and it was accepted! Still waiting on some important inspection info, but HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS, I FOUND A HOUSE. It feels like I’m in this weird grey area where I can kind of talk about it, but can’t really give too many details because it’s all so up in the air. Stay tuned and please please please keep those fingers crossed for me!
photography by Jojotastic.