What the #@¢%?! am I missing?

Checking your assumptions about buying a house

By Anita Newhouse

So you’ve read a few articles and you’re feeling pretty good about your quest to buy the perfect starter home. You busted those myths about down payments, wrote out, and edited your wishlist. Maybe you even got started on the pre-underwriting process so you know exactly where your budget stands.

Well, la-dee-dah! I guess you don’t need your ol’ girl Anita anymore! 

BUT YOU DO. We’re in this together, and if I still have questions about buying a house then you probably do, too. We haven’t even gotten to some big stuff yet, like tips for open houses or what to do if your appraisal is lower than you thought.

In fact, it’s totally possible that your headstrong, get ‘er done attitude is inching you into a corner. And nobody puts Baby in a corner! If you, like me, have been so fixated on finding the home that ticks off all your boxes, you maybe haven’t stopped to ask yourself one very important question: What am I missing?

While it’s definitely helpful to have at least a vague idea of what you’re looking for as you begin this long, confusing, and oftentimes frustrating process, having your mind totally made up too early in the process can actually work against you. It’s like deciding what flavor of ice cream you’re going to order before you get to the ice cream shop. You’re missing vital information! 

You know you love Rocky Road; you’re hundo p ready to put in an offer on two scoops of Rocky Road in a waffle cone. What you don’t know, though, is that this ice cream shop just introduced a brand new flavor, a Rocky Road/Cherry Garcia hybrid that’s loaded with almonds, plump cherries, an ooey-gooey marshmallow swirl, thick chunks of chewy fudge pieces, and oh my god why doesn’t this flavor actually exist yet? BEN! JERRY! WHERE YOU AT?

Wait, where was I? Oh, right! Assumptions. Right now you’re assuming you want that Rocky Road ice cream, aka a two-story cottage with parking in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. A dream, right?

But ask yourself, is that dream based on an assumption? Are you assuming Ballard is the only neighborhood that fits your needs because Ballard is your favorite right now? Rocky Road aka Ballard isn’t the only flavor, my friend! Get yourself to the ice cream shop—take a meeting with an agent, learn from other homebuyers—and discover more options! Find out what else is on the menu.

Bothell, Shoreline, Burien, Tacoma, White Center, Tukwila … there are places in the greater Seattle area that might fit your lifestyle and wishlist just as well as Ballard does and oftentimes homes in the suburbs or even the exurbs cost less, on average, than urban centers. (What’s an exurb? I had the same question. Here is your answer.

Obviously this point isn’t only for people in the Seattle area. Wherever you live, taking a look at some lesser-looked-at places is worth it when you’re ready to buy a home.

What else are you missing? What other “must-haves” on your list are based on assumptions and could benefit from a second look? Expand your mind, even just a little. Ask to try that new ice cream flavor! Best case, you discover a new favorite. Worst case, you fortify your love of Rocky Road. Either way, you end up with something delicious.

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