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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


person found Katie's experience helpful.

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I was excited! I had finally reached a point in life where I was able to purchase a home — my first. As a single parent, my path to reaching this goal was long and challenging, but I was finally seeing the fruits of my labor.

I contacted a local real estate agent who I knew because I had previously rented a home that she managed. Besides having a dollar amount that I was preapproved for, I had only the barest ideas of what I wanted in a home. I knew that I wanted some acreage, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a fireplace. Beyond that, I was open to different layouts and locations.

My real estate agent went to work showing me various homes, but none of them really seemed much different than the rest. Many of the homes she showed me were nestled on small lots with treeless, postage-stamp-sized yards within talking distance of the neighbors. I knew that I wanted some semblance of privacy, which these homes did not really offer.

In the meantime, I was looking in the local newspaper for homes that might fit my price range and meet my minimum requirements. Though we looked at several homes that I found this way, most of them did not appeal to me once I saw them. There was one home that seemed to offer much of what I desired, but my lending company did not approve of it because it had limited access to the main highway. It wasn't until my stepmother found a listing in the larger, regional newspaper that I found what wound up being my home.

The listing that caught my stepmother's eye highlighted a kitchen window overlooking a backyard pond and vaulted ceilings in the living room, which provide stunning visual appeal. The fact that it was situated on nearly two wooded acres was also noted. These were all characteristics that appealed to me. One notation in the ad that surprised me was that the house was being sold by the owner, without the use of a real estate agent.

I didn't know what to expect from a house that the owner was selling himself, so I contacted my real estate agent and asked her to set up a tour of the property. She informed me that because the owner was selling the home himself, she did not need to be involved. I could simply contact the seller myself and set up a mutually convenient time to view the house.

I contacted the owner of the home and completed a walk-through of the property. Not only did it offer sweeping views of the pond, stunningly high cathedral ceilings and well-maintained landscaping, the owner had obviously taken great pains to add special touches such as a back door leading to the master bath for those messy projects that need soap and water as soon as possible, oversized closets in the master bedroom, and a large, two-car garage.

During my second visit to the home, the homeowner and I talked about how the process of purchasing would work. Before placing the home on the market, the homeowner had visited a property lawyer in order to draw up a contract for selling the home. Although the homeowner had advertised a specific price he desired, we negotiated until we reached a price that was deemed mutually acceptable.

The lawyer who the seller had retained was simply present to ensure that the legalities of the property transfer were in order, as the seller and I were not adversaries. Rather, we were two people with the same goal: to transfer ownership of the home. Although we were coming at the transaction from two different points of view, we used the same attorney to complete the transaction. I simply scheduled a time when it was convenient for me to read over the documents and sign them.

In looking back on the process, I felt like it went fairly smoothly. There were some delays in working out time frames, such as getting the lawyer to file the paperwork in a timely manner, but overall, I found the experience to be quick, free from stress, and exciting. There are a few things, though, that I would suggest that people who hope to own a home in the future keep in mind:

• Help narrow down the possibilities by knowing what you want before you start looking.

• Get mortgage preapproval to help you focus your search on a home that you can afford.

• Tell everyone you know that you are searching for a new home.

• Don't be scared off if the home is being sold by the owner. Sellers are often more motivated to negotiate when they are doing the work.

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