It has been a little over eight months since we purchased the home. Eight months. And we are still working on the house, lol. The process has been a loooooong one. I told Jose the other day, my goal is to be 90% complete by the one year mark. (I want some things to be incomplete on purpose so I can continue to shop for the home whenever traveling is allowed again. I’ve always dreamt of purchasing home decor in Paris or Mexico.)
Anyway, I figured it was time to share our “exciting” home buying experience with you.
Whew…where do I begin?
I guess let’s begin from the minute we knew it was time to purchase a home.
We were pretty set on living in the city. For a second, we considered moving back home to be closer to our parents and family…buuuut we chose the city. We are city people at heart and couldn’t see ourselves living elsewhere.
As soon as we got married, we started saving. We stuck to our savings plan, and two years later, we felt confident in purchasing the townhome of our dreams. We knew exactly which style, exterior, interiors, etc. we were looking for. The only debate was the location. Jose was pretty set on the Heights but I was stuck on East Downtown (aka EaDo). I’ve always pictured downtown views from my bedroom with big beautiful windows for natural light to creep in. We spent hours upon hours on the Zillow app – eliminating choices left and right. Seriously – we felt nothing matched the aesthetic we envisioned. Finally, I came across an all-white lovely neighborhood concept that was still under construction. I kind of knew it was it.
We spent several weekends just driving around the neighborhoods we were considering. On one of those drives, we drove through EaDo. I loved the area! It was up and coming. I loved the artsy energy. I love how freeing it felt. It felt young and beautiful. It felt like home. We stopped by the area where this all-white village of townhomes was supposed to be built (you know, the one I fell in love with) and it was nothing but a flat piece of land. It was still in the early stages and I felt discouraged. I felt discouraged because we felt like we were on a time limit and didn’t know how fast (or slow) construction on these homes would be. We drove back to our apartment and put a pin on the idea.
Fast forward to the summer of 2019, my mom and sister were visiting from Dallas. And just like every other family member that would visit, I took them on a tour of Houston. (It’s basically driving around through the rich neighborhoods and showing them where we plan to live someday! LOL!) Anyway, I also took them to the neighborhoods we were considering for our first home. I showed them what townhomes were and told them we were still on the search of THE home. After leaving the Heights area, we drove through EaDo. And guess what?!? The neighborhood we saw online (and fell in love with) was finally being built!!!! I was beyond excited. The first thing I saw was the open house sign. I was probably yelling from excitement (I don’t recall – haha) and told my mom and sister we HAD to pickup Jose and bring him on the tour with us. (Since you know, he would also be living in the house – hahahaha.)
And we did just that.
After the tour, we knew it in our hearts it was IT. It fulfilled every desire and vision we had for our first home. It was a little bit above our price range so I could only hope the hubby would budge and say yes to the house. It took a few weeks. But…it worked.
We contacted our friend and realtor and told her we were ready to purchase a home. You see…the townhomes with the downtown views were selling like hot cakes! We felt we needed to jump fast on the opportunity and lock down ours. After touring several options, and weighing the pros/cons of choosing one that hadn’t been built, we felt the best home that met our aesthetic requirements (and timeline) was the original townhome we toured during our first visit.
Buying the model home meant they eventually needed to move out the staged furniture. The process (aka the paperwork part) moved along pretty quickly. We rarely let any paperwork sit in our court, I think the part that moved the slowest was addressing issues with the home. Yep, even though it was a brand new spankin’ home, it still had its flaws.
I’ll share a list of tips for first time homebuyers tomorrow but I think it’s very appropriate to say one of those tips right now.
If you are in the process of buying a home, I HIGHLY recommend to pay for your own inspection report. Let me explain – the homebuilder will have their own set of inspections to do, however, this does not mean they give you these inspection reports. I strongly believe it’s important to bring a reputable, trustworthy, and reliable, inspection company to give you their perspective on the home. I did hours of research on companies in Houston and chose the one that passed the interview. Yep, I interviewed maybe the top three companies and narrowed it down to one. (Again, I’ll share an entire list of tips tomorrow.)
Anyway, during our inspection, you can bet I was present. I was here for the entire – hmmm…..idk….4 -6 hours the inspector took to inspect the entire house. At the end of the inspection, he reviewed the report with me. (This company was so fast!) The biggest issues were two things: the a/c unit needed a different part and the downstairs bathroom smelled a little bit like mold.
Simply recalling the ache from this experience.
I was like, “Um, excuse me. Did you say mold?” Yep, mold. (Me and these moldy stories, right?!? In case you’re new to the blog, mold has its way of making it into my life every chance it gets.)
At the end of the day, I knew exactly which smell he was referring to. I have a VERY good sense of smell. I can detect almost anything without looking at it first. If I walk in to my grandmother’s house, no, actually, just BEFORE entering my grandmother’s house, I can predict what she cooked for lunch just from the smell. As you can imagine, I was dreading the next steps. Since the mold wasn’t visible, it was going to be a hard argument to win. Nobody wants to deal with mold. Nobody.
After the inspection report was given to the builder, they were good about addressing every issue listed on the report – except the mold. I was very disappointed and frustrated. We had a few options:
- Pay for the mold inspection out of pocket, which we were against because we felt it was their problem to figure out. We were already paying thousands out of pocket.
- Ask the builder to pay for the mold inspection, which they refused to do because they didn’t believe there was mold.
- Let them figure out the root cause because again, they swore there was no mold.
We went with the third option.
I am laughing out loud as I sit here and recall the lame root cause they came up with. They blamed the cleaning ladies for using a specific type of floor cleaner causing the stained concrete to smell funny.
I didn’t buy the bullsh-t. But what can you do?
The truth would eventually reveal itself.
And it did.
About three weeks after closing, Houston flooded. Thanks to this storm, a lot of flaws were revealed about the house. Without getting into too much detail, a few days after it stormed, the mold appeared in the bathroom where the smell was originally detected.
I was so tired.
I broke down so many times. There was so much happening at the same time.
Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who took over this issue. He also
probably felt guilty for not listening to me. I knew something was up the entire time.
It wasn’t long before the builder’s President walked the entire home and expedited the process on addressing all of our issues. I would say it took about two months to fix everything.
The biggest life lesson for me was, new homes are not exempted from mold. In fact, mold is everywhere. It’s not visible to the naked eye UNTIL it begins to grow on a damp surface. It can attach to our clothing, shoes, and pets. (I’ll link a source here and here.)
It was a hard pill to swallow, but hey, at least I know what to do if mold ever appears in my house again. (Praying it never does though.)
Overall, the entire process had its ups and downs. Our realtor and mortgage lender were great to work with. Only hire those you trust. I felt our realtor fought for us as much as we fought for ourselves. But at the end of the day, nobody is going to fight for you like you will fight for yourself. Does that make sense? This principle applies to life in general. You have to be your own advocate.
Well, that’s a wrap for tonight. I am looking forward to sharing my top tips for first time homebuyers tomorrow. As you can imagine, I learned a lot from this experience and hope you took away something valuable as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. I respond to all messages – Instagram or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.