Adventures in Homeownership

People often think that Real Estate Agents are immune to problems with home-buying. That there are magical loopholes that allow us to avoid the stress and turmoil that comes with being a homeowner. This is not so! True, we do know more than the average Joe, and we can often foresee issues and protect ourselves pretty well, but those are things that all agents should do for their clients! The thing is this: homeownership comes with huge to-do lists, and extra surprises, and extra costs. That’s just the way it is.

My fiancé and I recently bought a starter home. I did my homework, and it is a good little house, but less than 24 hours in the first surprises came! Hopefully the following can help prepare some of you first-time buyers out there for some examples of what can happen! Our first night in the house was exciting, for many reasons, not the least of which was the sewer backing up in the basement! Good stuff. I called my guy and ordered the line cleaned to the street (roots can build up in plumbing lines causing clogs and back-ups). As it turned out it was a clog within our own system and easily fixed, but having the line cleaned out is just part of home maintenance and would have needed doing this year anyway – so money well spent!

Next! I went to do my laundry for the first time and found that the washer and dryer did not, in fact, work. Luckily when I wrote the offer I made a condition that the plumbing, electrical, and appliances be in good working order. Also luckily, the vendors are awesome people and were willing to bring us new- used units and remove the old ones for us! This was solved quickly and relatively painlessly without having to bring lawyers into it. Huzzah!

We also found out within our first week that we need to purchase parking permits to park on the front street and renew these permits every year. This is not terribly expensive, just one more thing to add to the “to-do” list. Upon trying to actually get these permits so that we can use our back pad for entertaining in the summer rather than parking, we found that we had to have up-to-date driver’s licenses with the new address on them. Okie dokie. To-do # 127…

Once moving in we decided to get an alarm system both for the obvious benefits, as well as the discount on our home insurance. Cool. Great. Grand. Except I quickly discovered that my shower set off the smoke/heat detector as it is incredibly sensitive and was placed too close to the bathroom, despite using the fan while I showered! Somehow the idea of being in the shower and having firemen peel up your street, sirens blaring, and breaking down your door to save you sounds better in a Danielle Steele novel than it actually played out! Add to that the fact that the alarm is piercingly loud and we’ve got ourselves an interesting day to say the least! I apologized to the firemen, the alarm company apologized to me and moved the detector over a bit. Cool. Great. Grand.

Today I had no water. SURPRISE! The city is doing repairs on a hydrant out front, which is good! Just a little warning would’ve been nice. I might’ve showered at the gym. Still, it’s an excellent excuse to go and visit my friends down the street, not to mention excellent exercise to carry back containers of water!

My point is this: no one is perfect. No home is perfect. I have owned a house before, and that one had its share of surprises too! I have been through these types of things with numerous clients as well. I think it’s just a rite of passage. Buying a home is exciting, and sometimes scary. You just have to think of it as an adventure, and plan to have surprises come up! There will always be something; it’s part of the process and learning curve. Just smile, take a deep breath and remember that this is all good stuff. Character building and learning is a good thing! I believe it makes me a better agent, and I hope that this little personal story can help some people out there be better prepared for the world of Real Estate as well!