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I’m excited to write this sponsored post for the National Association of Realtors® because it gives me the opportunity to share a little about what we learned when we bought our home four years ago.Lessons learned while buying a fixer-upper

We knew we wanted to buy a fixer-upper, a home that needed some TLC and some hard work. We wanted to make a house into our dream home, but we needed to start with the right property–something that might have been a little neglected, but with no major structural problems. Although we are definitely avid DIYers, we are not professionals. We were searching for a home that matched our skill level and abilities.

Maybe I’m a complete nerd, but I love to look at real estate listings online. It’s fun to look through pictures and read home descriptions then imagine how my family would fit in each home. If you’re looking to actually buy a house, though, it’s important to realize that looking through listings (and dreaming) is just the very first step in a long process. And since all the steps afterward are not nearly as fun or as easy, you’re going to want help. You’re going to want a good real estate agent.

Anyone that loves to do-it-yourself projects has to recognize when it’s worth the money to hire a professional. For example, while we easily added a new outlet in our garage ourselves, we hired a certified electrician to upgrade the wiring in our whole house. Buying a home is the largest purchase we will ever make, so using a professional real estate agent made sense.

But there are a lot of real estate agents out there, and it can be overwhelming to try to find a good one. We narrowed down the options by only looking at real estate agents that had the title “Realtor®.”

The term “real estate agent” means anyone who has a real estate license, but someone designated as a Realtor® is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and works to a higher standard of ethics. A Realtor® has knowledge and expertise and the resources to help us find our perfect house. By limiting our search to only Realtors®, we narrowed down our options to just the best.Lessons learned while buying a fixer-upper

We specifically searched for a Realtor® who had experience with properties in the area we wanted to live. There’s a good tool for finding a Realtor® that matches your needs at Through our research, we found Jason, a Realtor®, and his help through the rest of the process was invaluable. Here’s why:

A Realtor® helps you find a good location

We lived in an apartment for a couple of years before we bought a house so we could get to know the area. However, when we started looking at properties, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to just the neighborhood we knew.

Jason had years of experience buying and selling properties in our part of San Diego County. He knew which neighborhoods were growing and improving, and which neighborhoods were starting to go downhill. He knew which neighborhoods were a good investment and which would be good for our growing family. We relied on his experience.Lessons learned while buying a fixer-upper

A Realtor® knows if you’re ready to buy a house

I’m kind of an over-analyzer and often overly prepared, so when we first met with Jason, I had already done my homework. I had worked with a bank online to get pre-approved for a mortgage, gathered all the documents I would need, and studied the home-buying process. I was ready, or so I thought.

Jason went through everything with us, and suggested we needed something more from the bank before we could put an offer on a house. It ended up taking us a few more months to get everything sorted out and finalized with the bank (which was a huge pain), but I can’t imagine how devastating it would have been if we had bid on a house we loved, and then found out we didn’t have all the right paperwork.Things I learned while buying a fixer-upper

A Realtor® sees problems and possibilities you might miss

Once all of our paperwork was sorted out, we finally started visiting properties. It was so much fun to see all the DIY possibilities in every house. Often, though, my mind was so busy looking at what and how I wanted to improve, that I would overlook some key issues. Luckily, Jason would carefully look over each house and draw our attention to any flaws, like cracks in the ceiling (who thinks to look up?), what maintenance is necessary for a septic tank, the structural integrity of a chimney, why a large tree right next to the house is bad, or a small hole in an outside wall where bees had made their hive.

In one house the kitchen counter was literally falling off the wall. I figured that wouldn’t be a problem since we wanted to remodel the kitchen anyway, but Jason pointed out that the damage was more structural and would require more than just replacing the cabinets. That property was way beyond our abilities.Lessons learned while buying a fixer-upper

A Realtor® can move quickly so you don’t miss an opportunity

At the time we were looking for our dream fixer-upper, the housing market in San Diego was booming. Sellers were getting dozens of offers, and houses were hitting the market and selling very quickly, sometimes in less than a day. We had to be able to act fast.

I would check real estate listings several times a day. As soon as I saw one that looked good, I’d call Jason, and he would get us in to see the house that day.

For the house we bought (and absolutely love), I saw the listing in the morning, went with Jason to see it in the afternoon, went again in the evening with my husband, and Jason submitted our offer later that evening. There were two offers submitted that day, and we were lucky that ours was the better offer. The seller only accepted offers that one day. Fortunately, Jason knew how to get things done quickly.Lessons learned while buying a fixer-upper

A Realtor® negotiates for you

I’m not a good negotiator, so that was one thing I was happy to leave to a professional. In our society, for almost everything we buy, we pay the amount on the price tag. In those rare times that I have to negotiate, like buying a car or talking salary, it’s very stressful and I usually end up feeling like I got the short end of the stick.

In buying our home, there were so many different negotiations: the first offer, counter offers, terms, who pays for what, repairs found in the inspection, and much more. I was really glad a professional took care of that hassle.

Even if I had been a great negotiator, we still would have been at a disadvantage. All the people and businesses that are part of the home buying process expect to work with a professional agent, not directly with the homebuyers. A couple of times we tried to contact the seller’s agent with a question, but his responses always came back through Jason. Even if we had understood all the real estate lingo, no one wanted to work directly with us, just our agent.Lessons learned while buying a fixer-upper

A Realtor® gets you through the painful parts of buying a house

Painful, because at this point we were ready to move in, but there were still a lot of hoops to jump through, and none of them were fun. Our 30-day escrow took more than three months, and we often wondered if we would ever actually get to move into this house that we loved. Jason seemed to be the only one on our side. We spoke with him almost daily, and his constant reassurances that we would get through this and that unexpected bumps were normal was the only thing that saved our sanity during the whole process.Lessons learned while buying a fixer-upper

Now that we are living in our dream home and fixing it up, I am so glad the whole home-buying process is behind us. But I am also so glad that we worked with a Realtor® to find and buy our perfect house. Ultimately, we wouldn’t even have this awesome fixer-upper house without Jason, a Realtor®.


Click here to visit where you can learn more about the benefits of having a Realtor® help you buy a home and find a Realtor® that is right for you.


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