Facebook Hive Mind.

Most people don’t buy and sell a lot of real estate – so I thought I would turn to social media to crowd-source that experience.

Enter Facebook Hive Mind.

I asked five questions, broadly, through Facebook – in addition to all the private conversations I had with all kinds of people over the last year or so about this.  Each question was answered by a dozen different people on average, and these answers were so helpful.

The questions I asked, and some of my favourite answers, follow.

What’s one thing you wish you knew to look for, while you were looking?

Basically every answer I got here was amazing.  One thing that in a million years I never would have thought to consider – and I did end up thinking about it, at every single property – was ‘where will I shovel the snow?’ – big thanks to Jon W. for that tip.  I maybe didn’t actually buy a property that demonstrates that very well, but the point is that I did think about it!

Although there was a lot of other really useful stuff packed into Janine F.‘s reply, what I kept hearing in my head at each house was “how big are the rooms in NUMBERS, not in how you feel about them.”  This is so critical, especially when looking at an empty space – and actually also when looking at some spaces that were way over-crowded.

What did you look for in your realtor?

A number of the responders here recommended their realtors, which is great. I didn’t go with any of those people, but I too would recommend my realtor.

Best piece of advice here was from Sharon A., who noted that “quick responsiveness and client prioritization” were priorities, and that it was key to work with “someone with good communication skills so you’re both very clearly on the same page.”  That’s ultimately what I went for – someone who was consistently very responsive and someone who understood what I wanted and was always making sure we were on the same page.

How did you know when you found ‘the one’?

Some of the replies here were very practical, and others were of the ‘you just know’ variety.  In the end, I think for me that both were true.  I knew when I spotted good value, in a location that I liked, with all my major must-haves met and none of my can’t-haves spoiling the deal.  I also just knew it was the one.

I likened the “you just know”-ness of the whole process, though, when talking with someone about all of this, as being like dating.  Sometimes, the houses that were perfect on paper – everything that I should want, everything that is good for me – I just wasn’t that into; and sometimes, the houses that made NO sense on paper – the ones that were a little older, maybe a little rugged, came with all kinds of issues – were the ones that I’d fall for.  Ugh, c’est la vie.

In the end I did let the more practical side win out, but man did I fall pretty hard for a couple of bad-boy houses earlier in the search.

Did you take on any home renos after you bought?

You did it again, Facebook Hive Mind, and came through with great answers to this one.  Per Janine‘s recommendation, I picked up a copy of The Holmes Inspection, and read about what to look for and for some projects what kinds of things are involved.  A number of people’s replies were along the lines of “know your limits.”  There are things you can do, and things that require a professional – for some people, the “things you can do” is painting; for others, it’s remodelling an entire floor of the house.  Know which kind of person you are.

For those who took on a lot of work, I think my favourite replies were from Jenn O-T., due to the great detail and amazing results that she shared, as well as Amanda W., who noted that over their past eight years in their current home, they have taken on about one project a year.  I really appreciated that sense of pacing.

Did you buy mortgage insurance?

This was my most recent ask.  Survey says… do not get mortgage insurance, and instead get (or top up) term-life/disability insurance (if anything).  Lots of input and experience from people on this one, but I think a really key point was raised by Jon G., who noted that with mortgage insurance your premium never shrinks despite the fact that your payout is constantly shrinking every time you pay off a bit more of your mortgage; whereas with term life/disability, your payout stays the same.

So thank you, Facebook Hive Mind.  All of your responses were fantastic, and I really and truly did think of all your great feedback as I searched through house after house.