Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. There is nothing ‘minimalist’ about the home buying process. It’s fast and slow all at the same time (and it’s never slow the way you want it to be). It can be overwhelming and anti-climatic all at once. And, my goodness, it is not even remotely simple. A house is a massive purchase and most likely the most expensive and time-consuming ‘thing’ you will ever buy. So, from that perspective, it is not a minimalist process at all. (Also, the fact that I’m going to have to break this post into two doesn’t help. Come on, Britt, get it together).
But, in a couple of ways, I would consider our recent home buying experience to be minimalist. For the record, minimalist in this scenario is neither good nor bad. It’s just the way it was.
To some of you reading this, the way we went about our house purchase will be cringe worthy. To others, it may seem like a dream. I’m not placing a positive or negative value on the ‘minimalist’ nature of our experience. It was what it was. This might also have more detail than necessary. But, I knew literally zero things about buying a house before we jumped in and did it. So, I’m including as much as I can for the benefit of anyone out there who is considering taking the plunge.
And this is how it went.
Step One: Decide to Look at Houses
I sort of went into this in the home buying announcement post, but we only looked at two houses before putting in an offer on the house we now live in.
Which, for a perfectionist person like myself, is a woefully small number. I know people who have looked at dozens and dozens of houses before they find one they like (if they end up finding one at all).
I had trolled Realtor.ca pretty much every day for weeks, but only ever found a handful that fit into what we were looking for in terms of budget, part of town and overall design.
Step Two: Freak Out When You Miss an Open House
I found out house online on a Thursday, and there was an Open House on the property on the Saturday. The only problem was, we didn’t find out about the Open House until Sunday. Whoops. Thank you, very confusing realtor website.
Our house is in a fairly desirable area of town, so I knew it was going to get a lot of offers and traffic from that one open house alone. And it did. Four offers were received on the property on that Saturday. Ours was not one of them.
Step Three: Check the Budget
Our house was listed low for the area it’s in. The sellers rejected all four offers they initially received from the Open House and raised the list price by $20,000. That probably seems like a shady move, but it really was underpriced for the area. In my opinion, we still paid less than what it was worth (which is obviously a win for us).
After the price hike, we were the only offer that was submitted on the property and it was accepted – the same night. Literally two hours after we put in our offer, we got the call that it was accepted.
See what I mean about slow and fast?
Step Four: Find a Realtor
Our home buying process was unique in that we just used the selling agent to represent us. Since we weren’t ‘really’ looking, we didn’t have an agent of our own. This didn’t really bother us since it’s perfectly legal for an agent to represent both the buyer and the seller in Ontario (this may be different depending on where you live). We just had to sign some paperwork, as did the sellers, and we were good to go.
From an efficiency perspective, this saved us time and probably helped us clinch the deal since the seller really only had to deal with their own agent. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing this is the seller’s agent was sketchy, but I’m a pretty good judge of character, so I felt secure making that choice.
Step Five: Get a Mortgage
It was at this point that we realized that we should probably, you know, get a mortgage approval. Ha! As you can probably tell at this point, we did our home buying a little backwards to the norm.
However, getting a mortgage wasn’t a big deal for us. We were approved for more than double that total purchase price of our house (I’m still undecided if this is a good thing or a bad thing), so we were set to go. I know some people struggle to get approved for financing, so I was very grateful this part was mostly a breeze for us. For the nerdy of you reading this, we decided to go with a credit union rather than one of the big five banks in Canada. We dealt with them almost exclusively online or on the phone (no local branches, thanks, northern Ontario). They were truly amazing and went above and beyond to make sure that we got exactly what we were looking for.
We settled on a five-year fixed rate of just over 3%, with a 20-year amortization. Wow, I never thought I’d type those words. Anyway, our interest rate probably seems high to my fellow Canadians and low to my American pals. I’m fine with sitting right in the middle. Going for the 20-year rather than a 25 or 30-year amortization was important to me. It obviously made our monthly payment higher, but will end up saving us close to $15,000 in interest.
Stay tuned for next week’s post, steps 6-10 of our minimalist home buying process!
Do you own a home? What’s one thing you’d change if you had to buy all over again? Let me know in the comments!
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions