Last time, we found out that you will either get a home that is totally run down, but in your price range except for the massive overhaul you’ll have to do to make that house a home, or you’ll end up buying a house that is more expensive than you are comfortable with.

You can rejoice, though, because you can QUIT LOOKING FOR HOUSES!! That frees up about 10 hours a day for you to start writing checks! Yay! As it turns out, even if the house you are going to buy is too expensive, revel in the fact that you won’t have to sanitize the entire thing just to move in. It’s a give and take.

Now comes the real craziness that no one prepares a first-time home buyer for. I thought that I had read up on what needed to be done, what would be expected, and such, but there wasn’t really a solid, to-the-point kind of guide, save a Dave Barry book that I thought couldn’t be true because he’s a humorist. He jokes about writing so many checks that they litter the side-walks. That’s crazy. There are only enough to cover the dining room table.

Okay, okay, maybe not that many, but there are checks to be written, and right away.

The first and more important thing that you have to realize about real estate is that you have to enter into a binding contract when you start haggling about the cost of the home. Either side can negate the contract within the first 10-days, presuming you don’t have a dolt for a realtor, but it will cost you money to break the contract within this period of time, even if you back out because the house is lemon and you didn’t find it out until you got an inspection.

The contract thing was a little dizzying, at first. I swear, the legalese sound like this, “THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT. IF YOU SO MUCH A STEP OUT OF LINE, YOUR SOUL WILL BE BANISHED TO EVERLASTING DARKNESS!” when it, in reality, is basically saying, “Don’t be a dirt-bag. If you say you’ll buy the house, y’all agree on a price, and you make a deal, then, follow through. Don’t say you’ll buy the house and then back out at the last second because you have cold feet or find another house you like better. These people have taken their house off the market for you, and if you get flighty, they might have missed out on a real buyer.” Makes sense, but it’s still a little intimidating.

My beloved realtor, Willita Thompson, was quite patient with us about being so ill-informed, but she deals with this all the time, and so she just stated, as a mater-of-fact, that we needed this money…today. Well, it’s not just her! Everyone else (including former real estate agents) among our friends never once thought to sit us down and say, “Now, you know, you’re going to have to have thousands of dollars to spend to be able to get a loan, right?” If you’ve never bought a house, you’re thinking, “Wait…thousands?” If you’ve bought a house, you’re nodding your head, knowingly.

I’m presuming that people think we know this because they’d like to think that we’d be well-informed, and on the ball. Well, they’d be WRONG. But, that’s another blog, altogether. I mean, NOW we are. But, before we started this whole thing? Not so much.

If you are in that same boat that we were in, after reading this series of blogs, you’ll be all set! So, if you’ve never bought a house before, you’re wondering what option money is. Well, you are asking the seller to take their house off the market while you haggle. This costs you, the buyer, money…usually around $100. Write a check.

Then, you have to prove that you are not some joker that is just being a pest and really has no intention of buying the house. This is called “earnest money,” a befitting name and is around $1,000. Write a check.

Presuming the seller doesn’t laugh your offer into the trash, you have a deal! But, wait, there’s more! You really ought to get the house inspected. Just do it. It’ll cost you about $500, depending on where you are located. Write a check.

Next time: Inspection findings, pools, and closing costs!