Buying a home | Searching for a house - three things I learned

If I could sum up our home buying experience in three words it would be exciting, scary & stressful. With that in mind I thought I'd share a few posts on home buying for any of you first time buyers hoping to make the big move this year. Kicking off with three things I learned when searching for our first house.

Photographs lie - don't get excited until you see it in person
We learned this about 5 minutes after our first viewing, looking down at our rightmove app and then back up at the rather disappointing house we had just exited. Photographs can make rooms seem larger, brighter and hide unsightly features! Look at floorplans to get a more accurate picture, most online listings now include these and many have room sizes marked out. I spent many a sleepless night excited at the prospect of viewing our 'dream home', only to be disappointed by my preconceptions.

It works both ways though. If a house is a great location and at a good price, don’t dismiss it because the photographs don't do anything for you, like I said photographs can lie. Interestingly, the house we brought was one we hadn't seen any pictures of inside before we viewed it.

It really is all about location, location, location
I love that show, but once we were really in the midst of our search I struggled to watch it without feeling slightly depressed, watching all those people find houses! When buying your first home it's easy to start looking online and think 'wow we can afford more than I thought' and 'there's loads of choice'. But on closer inspection they back onto railway tracks (not that there is anything wrong with that, but it's not for us) or are completely the wrong side of town (practically in the next town). Unless you have an endless budget you'll have to compromise somewhere but we quickly decided location wasn't one we could compromise on.

If you're unsure of a particular street or location, go back at different times of the day, on weekends and weekdays to get a feel for the place - it's often good to do this before booking a viewing as you might instantly discount somewhere and save the time of viewing it.

The 'feeling' does exist
Five months and countless houses in I really did start to think the house for us wasn't out there. We'd come close with a few, but I was always missing that 'yes, I can see us and our stuff here...' feeling. Or when I was thinking it was a possibility the boyfriend wasn't. You can start to feel desperate and viewings turn from excitement into a chore, at this point I’d completely stopped watching L,L,L and any house buying shows as they were too stressful to watch!

But then one evening after work we had three viewings lined up and the first one we walked into was IT. We really did just know that was the house for us. Funnily enough the house we viewed after it that evening was actually bigger and closer to town, but that didn't matter as we'd both finally found the 'feeling'. It does exist.

I really hope that’s useful, or at least entertaining! If you have any questions let me know in the comments, I'm no expert but happy to share our experience as it certainly wasn't plain sailing. Next up: top tips for after your offer is accepted.


  1. We are just in the process of buying our first house and I couldn't agree more with what you have written. We saw a few houses that looked a lot better in the photographs than in real life but we found the 'the one' which actually didn't look all that great in the photographs. It's just stressful now waiting for everything to finally go through! x

    1. Funny isn't it! Hope everything goes smoothly for you :) x

  2. This is really helpful. I'm hoping to buy in the next few years and get so excited looking at Zoopla, I just need to do some serious saving first!

  3. Great tips, thanks for sharing this! <3

    I have a new post on the blog, would love to know your thoughts:

    * Electric Sunrise - Fashion and Lifestyle Blog *


  4. This is great timing as I'm hoping to buy somewhere this year. We really need to get a move on though as we've mostly just been saving for a deposit. I have to admit the "wow we can afford more than we thought" line made me laugh. As a Londoner I have never said that :)

  5. We brought our first house last year so all the stress is still fresh in my mind.

    I'd say one of my tips would be to get in touch with a mortgage adviser before you start looking so you're fully away of your top budget, plus they work with a lot of realtors so they can point you in a the direction of some great ones - that's how we found ours and never looked back.

    You're right about the feeling, it certainly came when we finally found the house we ended up buying. I think first time buyers especially can get a little to constricted in their list of must haves, while it's nice and great if you get your perfect house, you have to know what you're willing to compromise on, and your first house probably won't have everything you want/need but it gets you on the property ladder that might make those possibilities more real in the future.

    We actually ended up buying a house in a location we originally ruled out and it's an area that others would probably rule out because of it's closeness to Detroit, until you actually go there, visit across different times and see it for yourself don't rule anything/any place out.

  6. I was totally cynical about the whole "I just know" moment when it came to buying a house... until I walked into the house that became mine and "just knew". It had horrible yellow walls and wasn't in the perfect area, but I fell head over heels in love and have remained so for six years.

  7. I couldn't agree more. In buying a house, there are lots of things to consider, but the the location is of utmost importance. That is something you can only approximate through the most rigorous ocular inspections, which I hope you are being meticulous about. Anyway, thanks for sharing that! I wish you all the best with your house search!

    Devin Newton @ Indy Market Homes

  8. Hey Zoe, thanks so much for this post! We're due to see a mortgage advisor in the next couple of weeks, before the house hunt begins. It's scary and exciting - I know I'm likely to get impatient and stressed, so I'll be keeping your tips in my mind. :)

  9. Wise words. Having done the house hunting thing several times all your observations are spot on.It took several moves to be able to get the house we wanted (each time getting something a bit bigger) until we are where we are now.

  10. I don't want to say that I am upset in the house I live in but it definitely could have gone better for us as a first house! We saw so many pictures online and you would not believe how differently they looked when we got inside! Now, I would suggest trying to take off any rose colored glasses you may have on and just take a minute and decide if you can make the home work or if it will be too much effort.



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