Buying our first house: oh, the anxiety!

J and I are in the process of looking – sorta – for our very first house, and sometimes I’m not sure if buying a house will be the most exciting thing we’ve ever done, or the absolute worst, terrible, most stressful, awful thing ever. I mean, all those folks on HGTV look happy, right? Right?! On House Hunters and even the uncomfortably-titled Property Virgins, they always find the *right* house and seem moderately happy at the end. Everything should be OK.

Well, it should, and I am very excited to actually own my own separate, detached house. A house with a yard, a front porch or patio where we can do some “outdoor entertaining”. A house with counter space and walls we can paint. A house that we may even remodel…or not. But a house. Our house. Not a townhouse. Not a rental. Not an apartment. A house.

But then, I’m filled with dread at the same time. I’m afraid that J and I will end up falling in love over and over again, only to have our hearts broken. I’m afraid we’ll never be able to find houses we like in our price range. I know there are compromises – I watch HGTV! – and I know we won’t be able to find “everything”.

But still, I’ve always thought our “wish list” was fairly realistic. J and I are decently reasonable people – we’re not going to nitpick over paint color or wallpaper. We know we’re not going to find our dream home; in fact, we’re OK with buying a small house! We grew up near outcroppings of McMansions and standardized suburban box houses, and we both hate the idea of buying a big house just to have “space” you don’t really need. We’re fine with a small(er) house, in a nice quiet neighborhood, maybe a little older, hopefully with some charm, in one of our target school districts. We might not be sending out kids to school while living in this house, but in Metro Detroit, the quality of school districts means everything when it comes to maintaining your home’s value.

Unfortunately, so far, the pickings in our “target neighborhoods” have been pretty slim, and I worry that we’re becoming one of those couples that look at 10,000 houses but are never satisfied. Now, we’ve only really “looked” at one house so far – most of our searching has been done online. But still. I’m worried. I’m trying not to be, but I am.

The good thing is that we’re not in a rush – right now. Our lease is up at our current place at the end of June, so we technically have four months to look and buy. And we don’t want to buy too soon, given that we’d have to pay our way out of our lease somehow (But what if we find the perfect house tomorrow!?!). Plus, our real estate agents – a wonderful married couple who are super knowledgeable about the area where we’re looking – assure us that more homes will go on the market when it gets warmer and the snow goes away (but really, at this rate, will the snow ever go away?).

But still, still. Luckily, we’re on top of everything else in the house-buying department. We’ve got our down payment ready to go, a major financial achievement owing to some generous in-laws and two years of hardcore saving. We have our real estate agents lined up. And we’ve been pre-pre-approved for a loan that could get us a house at the top of our price range (though we probably won’t go that high).

But what about everyone else? Is the house-buying process as terrifying as it seems? Is it worse? Or, will we all live happily ever after?

While we’re on the subject, check out:

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