As a mom of younger children, the frantic search for buying a home in Portland began with confusion, questions, too few choices, and ended (after two years) with our happily ever after home.In the last two years, our family made offers on seven different homes that we kind of loved, and three of those offers were accepted. The four houses that didn’t accept our offers ended up selling for well over the asking price. Of the accepted offers, two of the houses had average inspections and we were too scared to move forward. Our third offer (and now forever home) survived inspection, first-time homeowner anxiety, and met a small fraction of our new house must-haves list. Here are some tips to mastering buying a home in the Portland market:
1. Be Plugged In
The Portland house market will be heating up again this summer. If you aren’t 100% dialed in to all things real estate, you can lose out. Having apps on my phone that kept me aware of every house going on the market was key. Each app had it’s share of bells and whistles to help me. I set up alerts so I knew about houses as soon as they hit the market. In my experience, realtors picked Tuesday through Thursday to post new listings with an open house that weekend. If you see a house that looks good on a Thursday, get in to see it on by Friday, and be prepared to make an offer if you like it. If you wait until the open house, you could run into multiple, competing offers. Here were the apps I used most frequently when buying a home:
2. Find an AMAZING Realtor
There are GREAT realtors out there and you should interview them to decide who you want. Look for one who can negotiate (this will save you money), work with your schedule to look at houses, know the neighborhood/area that interests you, and make you feel 100% at ease. To balance buying a home with our children with us around nutty schedules, we ended up using a RedFin realtor because we could set up tours via the mobile app, and had flexibility in scheduling house tours.
3. Involve Your Kids
Taking two young kids to look at several houses can be difficult, but we made a game out of it. From turning on all the lights to racing up the stairs, we convinced our five-year-old to find rooms while our two-year-old turned off lights before we left. By including the kids (and having snacks in the car), it was an exciting experience for them to look at houses AND we didn’t have to pay for childcare.
4. Get Pre-Qualified
In order to make an offer on a house, you must have a letter from a lending institution that states you can buy a house. This letter usually includes how much you can put down and what you can afford when buying home. The best pre-qualification letter is customized every time it’s written. This can be exhausting. We had over a dozen letters written specific to each home we made offers on, so having 24/7 access to your potential lender is important. It will also allow you to review your finances and understand what’s within your budget. A good lender can advise you of your different loan options and support you in the home-buying process.
5. Know Your Numbers
Although our pre-qualification letter came from one bank, we ended up rate shopping after we made our offer and got a better rate from another bank. This worked for us because we had all our papers ready. Beware of rate shopping with too many lender because they have to do a credit check before giving you any information and each inquiry slightly dings your credit score (this is something we REALLY wish we had known).
6. Find Childcare
If you feel like taking the kids with you will be too much, it’s worth investing in childcare. There were SEVERAL times after buying a home when we asked a family friend to take our kids to McDonalds so they could eat and play while we packed, unpacked, cried, and silently freaked out about how much we spent on our house. It was a lifesaver for us as we moved into our house.
Whether you are are moving to Portland for the first time or just across town, be prepared for a hot market by following these tips. Do you have any good tips of your own when buying a home in Portland?