Before buying a home, the biggest decisions I had made were (1) choosing where to go to college (2) accepting a real job offer and (3) saying “yes” to a marriage proposal. Buying a home was scarier than any of those.
As naïve young 20-somethings, my husband and I thought we’d see 5 or 6 houses, fall in love with one, and call it a day. It didn’t go that smoothly. After seeing 15 or so, we expressed our frustration to friends and family, several of whom graciously offered to tag along and “help.”
We learned that sometimes it’s better to wait before cashing in on those offers for assistance. Say…until it’s time to start packing and unpacking boxes. As well-intentioned as they may be, think twice before bringing these folks along on your house hunt:
- The Parent Who Has Been In the Same House for 35 Years You need someone who is in touch with current market conditions in your area. The fact that “Dad and I paid $18,000 in 1969,” is totally irrelevant to today’s market. And how do your respond if they say, “If you’re going to pay that, we’ll sell you our place. We can convert the basement to an apartment for us.”
- The Fat Wallet
Things get awkward if you have to keep reminding someone, “Yes, I really am sure we can’t come up with another $50,000.” Personal finances are a sensitive topic. Keep them personal.
- The Financially Troubled Guilt-Tripper “Whoa, this is a nice place. So, I guess there’s no rush on that $500 you loaned me, right?” You work hard for your money and buying a home reflects that you are fiscally responsible. You have nothing to feel guilty about.
- Corn Huskers and Southern Belles
It’s not helpful to know what a 4 bedroom farmhouse is going for in Iowa or North Carolina. In fact, it’s depressing. If you’re going to bring along an out of towner, find someone from Chicago or Boston. A friend from San Francisco might actually cheer you up! And to all of you Chip and Joanna Gaines fans: You might want to take a break from the TV. Because unless you are willing to pack up and move to Waco, TX, it’s just going to break your heart.
- The Weekend Warrior God bless the friends who are willing to work for a a favorite microbrew or a bottle of wine – common wages for painting a nursery or pulling out some overgrown shrubs. But few kitchens or bathrooms have been successfully gutted (in a timely manner) over a case of beer. For bigger projects, it’s best to bring along a professional for their input and an estimate. Most well-meaning friends do not have as much free time as they think; and few projects turn out to be as simple as they appear.
If you have family and friends who want to help you, consider yourself blessed. Thank them… and give them a call when it’s time to start bubble-wrapping. Until then, you need someone fluent in the current market conditions in your area, who respects your budget, and can refer you to contractors for professional advice. You need a Realtor.