Your home: 5 things your first home teaches you

As I write this, I am celebrating ten years of marriage to my wonderful wife and business partners, Leah. More than once this week we have discussed how time has flown by, and how we have changed through the years and, most importantly, what we have learned from the last ten years. While discussing our early married life, our first home in Prairie Village has come up several times.

We loved that house. We put a ton of sweat equity into that home, as do most first time home owners. That house taught us a lot as well. Leah and I like to say that, “Your first home is like your first major relationship. It teaches you what you like and what you want to do differently next time around.”

Here are five things that our first home taught us:

  • 1. Home improvement projects will take twice as long as you thought. And in most cases, they will be more expensive. It is easy to underestimate the time it takes to complete almost any project. Err on the side of caution, and at least estimate 1.5 times what that you originally thought should be set aside for completion.
  • 2. A home requires maintenance at all times. Period. There will never be a time when something in your home does not require attention. Whether it is a repair or simple deferred maintenance like cleaning your gutters or trimming your trees seasonally.
  • 3. You learn where you spend most of your time while at home. For some, a living room or a family room is the most important. Or perhaps a spacious master bedroom. For our family, the most important room is the kitchen. Leah and I cook a lot and our first home taught us that we need a highly functional kitchen. Our current home has an older kitchen, but it is a very efficient space.
  • 4. Location, location, location. Our first home was in PV right across from the Prairie Village pool and the police station. This was a great location for us one Cinco de Mayo when a former neighbor of ours drove his car into our front yard and within 30 seconds there were seven police cars there to assist us. Yet as the years went by, it became increasingly clear to us that we wanted to be within walking distance to our elementary school. I grew up walking to school and I wanted that for my boys. It might surprise you, but many home buyers look for a home either conciously or subconciously like the home or neighborhood in which they were raised. It all comes full circle it seems.
  • 5. It’s not a house, it’s a home. This is why I love my job. We get the opportunity to see our clients move into perhaps their first home, or maybe their second or third. Whichever it may be, we get to hand them the key to start a new chapter in their lives, and it is very personal. And we don’t take this honor for granted. It is a big deal to them and us.

I don’t look back on my first home and think about the windows that we changed out, or all of the hours that Leah and I spend painting every single square inch of the interior of that home (although I still sound a little bitter.) Instead, I think about how proud we were when we closed on our first home. Or how terrrified I was as I drove home from the hospital with our first son, Ben. Or how for some reason I installed about twenty smoke detectors in our home before he was born. I must have been nesting. I often think about our early Christmases in the house with both boys. They were magical to say the least.

We can learn a lot from our first home, and the second and third for that matter. Our home becomes a part of our story through the years and is constantly teaching us something. I am fortunate that I am reminded of this fact as I drive down Mission Road every day of the week and I glance over east of Mission at 77th St and see good ole 7701 Howe Drive. That home was a good teacher for nine years of my life and for that I am grateful.

Your home: An insider’s view from a recent home buyer

A few days ago I reviewed all of my columns from 2013. And I must admit, I have done a lot of talking about the seller’s market that we are in right now. So much so that the buyers out there may feel a little left out. Well not anymore.

This week I had a chance to interview one of our most recent buyer clients, Chris Rogers. On Aug. 7, 2013, he and his girlfriend, Elizabeth, closed on their first home purchase. Congrats Chris and Elizabeth!

Here is what he had to say:

Chad: Based on your experience with buying a home recently, how would you describe the market?

Chris: I would describe it as both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market. We really enjoyed the whole process and with rates so low, it was a great experience!

Chad: How much time did you spend researching the market before you started actively looking for a home?

Chris: Three weeks to a month. We used Trulia and Zillow a lot. We researched city data to get more comfortable with the different areas and we also talked to friends and family who lived in the areas that we were interested in.

Chad: What did you look for in a Realtor?

Chris: I didn’t really know what to look for in a Realtor. My friend recently worked with you guys (Leah was his buyer’s representative) and said that he had received the best service. That was all that I needed to hear, so I gave you guys a call.

Chad: What surprised you about the process, good or bad?

Chris: We didn’t really have any big surprises. Leah took the time to walk us through the entire process. We really enjoyed learning how everything works and all of the steps involved.

Chad: What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?

Chris: Maybe buy a house sooner. I have rented for quite a while and each month’s rent has just been wasted. Now that I understand more about real estate as an investment, yes, I would have bought a house sooner.

Chad: If you could offer a potential buyer only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Chris: Be patient. The process takes time. Finding a home that works for you and fits your needs is very important. So just be patient.

Thank you so much Chris for your time and your candid responses. We are thrilled for you and Elizabeth and Leah had a blast working with you two as well.

I must say that I was a little surprised to hear Chris say that he thought it felt like both a buyers and a sellers market. As a team, we are constantly trying to streamline our systems and processes to make a home purchase a great experience. No matter what market you are in, a well-informed buyer with proper expectations can have a great experience. So buyers out there, don’t take my word for it, take Chris’s: “Buy sooner!”