(Read part one here)

Last week I talked about all the information we needed to digest before we could even start looking for a house. Today I'm sharing all the joys of house hunting. To be clear, it's nothing like what they show on HGTV.

As I mentioned in the last post, we went with a FHA loan, so we could only look at places that were "FHA Approved." Some sellers won't even entertain buyers who are going through the Federal Housing Administration for their loan because there are such strict approval requirements. Most condominiums were off limits, but since we had our eyes set on an actual house, it was no biggie. Still, that's something to keep in mind if you're looking to buy a condo.

Also, before I jump in, I should mention that a pre-approval letter is typically required before a real estate agent will start showing you any properties (see last week's post for more pre-approval info).

Step Two - House Hunting

I briefly touched on this in my home hunting post, but finding an actual place we loved was more difficult than it sounds. Unless you're going with a newly constructed home, you might have to kiss many a frog before finding your prince, and some of those frogs look good on the inside but are crappy on the inside. Don't be fooled by the fact that you're looking in a "nice area," you'd be unpleasantly surprised to discover how some people neglect their houses.

I do want to point out that were weren't very picky. I wanted hardwood or laminate floors downstairs, a gas stove, a fenced backyard for the dog, and to be fairly close to the city. He wanted... a garden tub. LOL. That was literally his only request.

The Houses
Some houses looked much larger in photos than they are in real life; some houses looked nice on the outside and the inside, but the neighbors looked sketchy. We're in the south, so you know we saw some confederate flags hanging around a few subdivisions. #NOPE.

We walked into one verrrrrrry promising listing and were greeted by the verrrrrrry distinct smell of cannabis. It was thick - in the carpet, in the walls, in the laminate flooring... ugh. The smell just radiated through the entire house. #Nope.

There was one house that I absolutely loved. It was a 3BR/2.5BA townhouse in a great location. It had recently been remodeled, but the yard needed a lot of love and there was no enclosed fencing (our dog likes to wander, so a proper fence was a must). Still, I loved it and was willing to put in the work to transform the yard. My partner, however, wasn't sold. He liked it, but he didn't love it. So it was a no.

There was another house that he absolutely loved. It was a 3BR/2.5BA detached house with a two-car garage. The yard was solid, fenced in and all, and the family had taken good care of it. The only problem I had was how far away it was from the city. Everything was perfect except for the location. Still, he loved it and was willing to commute a little further. I, however, wasn't sold. I liked it, but I didn't love it. So it was a no.

If you're buying a house as a couple, you'll love some houses that your partner doesn't (and vice versa). Our goal was to find something we both loved - not just liked - loved.

There was another house in particular that I liked, he loved, but my mom didn't like. *Pro tip: maybe don't take your parents house hunting with you. It's your house, not theirs, and you don't want to be swayed one way or another by your parents' comments. Picking a house a huge decision, so keep all outside influences to a minimum.

A Quick Note About Historic Homes
There were a few houses in a historic area that were so cute and charming from the outside, but set up strangely on the inside. Open floor plans, for example, have recently risen to popularity, but many older homes don't follow this model. Some had random walls where there clearly shouldn't be one, and most only had one bathroom.

Almost every house we visited in the historic districts were 3BR/1BA. I guess multiple bathrooms weren't popular back int the day either. We really wanted at least two bathrooms and a more open floor plan, so all those charming historic homes were no longer an option.

The Timeline
Our hunt really got going during the first week of March. A few days into looking, our apartment complex stuck a note in our door saying the rent was being increased by $300 (the new Atlanta Braves stadium is coming to our area which is driving up the cost of living) at the end of our lease. Our lease was up at the end of May, and we knew we needed to allow at least 30 days for the loan approval process. You also have to give the seller some additional time to pack up and move, so we were starting to feel the time crunch.

The plan was to be under contract (place an offer on something and have that offer accepted by the seller) by mid-March, but the way things were going, it looked like we might have to pay an extra (over-priced) month at the apartment. We had seen so many houses! None of them were the one. Thankfully, spring/summer is the height of the season, so new listings were popping up every day. I would browse my agent's online portal for houses multiple times a day, and she would also email us listings here and there during the afternoon.

J was working quite a bit, so he didn't have as much time to hop online and review our options. It was actually quite difficult to work around his schedule, and sometimes listings would appear and go under contract before we even had a chance to see them in person.  Finally the perfect townhouse came across our agent's desk and she emailed me some pictures. We looked at it that day since J was off work, and even though the house needed a few renovations, we both loved it. Loved it. We made an offer that night - roughly three weeks after we started our hunt.

And this concludes part two of our home buying process. Tune in next week, same time same place, for part two (up-front costs).