Now that he’s closed escrow, David Cleveland has a few lessons to share from his house hunt:

I hope that your readers have gotten something from our experience. If I had a couple of items to impart it would be to

1) know your financial limitations and your risk profile. Jill and I are very risk averse when it comes to our own finances and it’s taken us years to get there (but that’s a whole other story).

2) make your agent work for you as much as possible and make sure that you are all on the same page as far as what it is you are looking for in price, neighborhood, amenities, what you want vs. what you need.

3) go out there on the net and look for yourself daily (you’ll need your agent to get to the specifics behind each property in the non-public comments section of the MLS which is only available to the agents but it will also help you in defining what you want in number 2).

4) have your pre-approvals done up front so that you can act fast and include the pre-approval letter as well as a letter telling the banker your situation and why you want the property (ours talked about our move from Denver, that we are living apart, and that we wanted a house where our family can grow up and thrive). The letter may never get read, but if you can personalize the transaction with the banker it may make a difference (I hear bankers are people too).

5) Be prepared to get rejected. It’s not personal, you just are probably getting outbid by someone with either a better situation or a more aggressive risk profile than you.

6) If you really like the property, follow up by having your agent talk to the selling agent. Let them know that you are still interested and if something happens that you are ready and willing to step in. In the end I think it was simply number 6 that made the difference for us. The selling agent didn’t have to wait for more people to see the property then wade through a slew of different offers, they’d been burned once and wanted to move the property and they knew that we were ‘waiting in the wings’, though if this had not come up we probably would have gone forward with the 3 bedroom house despite the plumbing/wall issue and the freeway noise.

We’ll be stopping by the Clevelands’ house one day soon, and we’ll have a photo of their new house to share. Do you have tips to share from your own housing market experiences — from the buying, selling, waiting or renting perspective? I’d love to hear them. Send me your thoughts at


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