Yesterday Jonah and I announced officially that we are now first time home owners! We are super excited to have moved from the apartment (which wasn’t horrible, just the parking), and even more excited because we bought the house as an independent couple: meaning we worked our butts off to save , and save some more!
But it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, and definitely wasn’t anything like you see on HGTV.
It was a long process.
It was a frustrating process.
And sometimes it was down-right boring.
So, as a young 20-something, I’m here to tell you possible first-time-home-buyers how it really is.
Post Disclaimer: This post is about mine and Jonah’s home buying experience and nuggets of wisdom that we personally took away from it all. This in no way means that your own home buying experience will be like this.
My biggest piece of advice: Do not try to be cute and keep it a secret from our families and surprise them when we were all settled in…biggest mistake we could have made. You will need the help moving, you will need the extra tools from your dad’s toolbox and it will be so damn hard keeping it from them once you actually have the keys.
Know Your Budget Before You Even Contact A Realtor
Jonah and I spent a good two weeks sitting down and digging into our personal finances to find our budget range, which we had all before contacting our realtor. But keep in mind just because you set a budget, doesn’t mean you will stay within budget! Set your budget range as low as you can when you contact your agent and start looking for home, they will send you homes that are above that budget range sometimes. So set a budget minimum and maximum. Jonah and I found our home listed toward our high-end, and ended up actually paying towards our high-end because we ran into one of those “we have multiple bids so we’re taking the highest bidder by noon tomorrow” deals, so we had no choice but to go almost all in because we really liked this home!
It’s OK to Switch Realtors
Jonah and I couldn’t have been more lucky and blessed because we had an amazing realtor from the get-go. She had helped the mom of a friend of ours find a home and that’s how we got connected. She went above and beyond to help us out, no matter what time it was or how stupid we felt our questions were and we can’t thank her enough, and we are now able to call her and her equally amazing handy-man significant other our friends!
But that’s not always the case for everyone.
Just like every other job where people help other people, some just do it for the money and will constantly show you houses way out of your price range, be hard to reach, or just do not listen to your wants and needs at all and just show you whatever will get them the highest commission. My best friend actually dealt with a realtor like that and she ended up switching.
Never feel bad about choosing another realtor, your realtor really will make or break your first home buying experience!
Your “Wish List” is Just That: A Wish list
When we first met up with our amazing realtor, just like on HGTV, she asked for home wish list items: features or characteristics we would like our future home to have.
So we listed our things: hardwood floors, spacious kitchen, garage or car port, bathtubs in at least one bathroom, fenced backyard for the dogs, a fireplace, and a few other things I’ve forgotten.
Want to know what we ended up getting? Everything but the garage/port and a fireplace. No granted we weren’t super picky with our choices, but some of you may be like “I want Cathedral ceilings with two acres and stream running through the back and birds that sing on command every morning while I drink my coffee” but will have a budget of $120,000.
This all ties back to your budget and knowing it in and out. Sure you may find a foreclosure with everything you want for a steal, but chances are if your wish list is extensive, your budget will need to be too. Another option though is buying a low-price home and spending a pretty penny to flip it and make it what you want, but people don’t always have the resources to do that!
Your House-hunt Will Not End Overnight…or Week…or even Month
Jonah and I started looking for a home in late July, and did not get the home until November…that’s four months, and we looked at over 20 homes I would say. Our realtor gave us a folder to keep in the beginning and we used it to keep track of the homes. After every week J and I would sit down and go through the houses we liked, didn’t like, and wanted to see again.
A lot of factors will play into just how long you look for a home: the housing market, interest rates (they literally change every day), your budget, etc..
But don’t get discouraged! There were a few nights were I was so frustrated I ended up crying. You will look at 4 houses in a day and not like a single one of them, or you’ll find the house you think is your dream home and be out-bid (it happened to us twice!!), and you will put in multiple offers and run into sellers who just aren’t willing to work with you.
But it will all be worth it when you are handed the keys to your first house, trust me.
You’re Basically Broke from the Second Your Offer is Accepted
Now I’m not talking “I only have $10 to my name until payday”, but mentally you will need to tell yourself you’re broke so you are not tempted to spend any excess amount of money.
After your offer is accepted, the money starts pouring out of your wallet. Sounds scary, but it’s the truth! You’ll have to pay for septic inspections, termite, foundation, roofing, and a few more, but those are just to name a few! You will also have to pay for your appraisal for your home, which isn’t cheap (we live in NC, but in states like CA and NY, appraisal cost are through the roof…no pun intended).
And then you will need to think about what projects you want to start right off the bat, or what furniture you need after your move. Luckily Jonah and I had 90% of what we needed from the apartment, so we can focus on our projects (which I will be posting about on here!).
Once that offer is accepted and your loan is accepted if you need one, it’s super savings mode for you, so just be smart with your money!
Stay on Top of Things
Most places of renting request, and often require, at least a 30 day notice before your move out. The average loan and closing process for a home takes 45 days, so to be safe, as soon as you get your closing date, let your landlord know and begin the process of crossing the apartment/condo/rented home bridge.
Where Jonah and I lacked was setting up water and power. We got so caught up and assumed we would be able to keep our then-current electrical provider…come to find out it was someone completely different even though were were only moving 20 minutes away, and they required more to set-up power than just calling and providing information. Our power thankfully was turned on that day we set it up, but we went three days without water! Whoops!
Never assume anything once you are a homeowner.
Never assume anything once you are a homeowner.
It’s best to set up your electricity, cable/internet, water and trash pick up at least two weeks in advance to avoid any road bumps!
Mortgage Terms = Gibberish, but That’s OK
In our relationship, Jonah is the financially savvy one, I like to pretend I am (I’m getting better at it thought!), so whenever we were at the loan office for paperwork, I was totally lost for the most part.
But that’s okay!
You/we are first time home buyers, we are not expected to know every single term or thing from escrow to due -diligence. Although research helps, your realtor, mortgage officer and your parents and knowledgeable friends are there to help you. We also got lucky and had an amazing mortgage officer who like our realtor went above and beyond to make sure our experience was as smooth as possible!
You can do all the research you want, but as a first time home buyer, there will always be things you find yourself asking questions about.
The Act of Moving
Begin packing the day your find out your closing date. This bit of advice is non-negotiable UNLESS you are moving from your parents where you will only carrying with you your personal belongings from your bedroom and bathroom!
If you don’t start packing ASAP, at least the small stuff or items that are out of season (like for me: the first things I packed were my Summer clothes), you will procrastinate until your are scrambling to pack everything and do a final clean of your apartment within a week’s span…just like Jonah and I did. Sure we were on top of it at first, but then we got distracted by other aspects of home-buying and were still packing on our closing date!
Also, save yourself the headache and just rent a moving truck for crying out loud. I know people who will enlist four to six of their friends to help move, each using their own car to move stuff, and it becomes pure chaos with that many people and cars coming in and out of your home!
Also, please make sure your significant other labels every box he packs, no matter how much he insist that he will remember which box goes where and what’s in it. (*ahem* Jonah)
From experience, the first room you will need to partially set up is your bed room. The kitchen, main bathroom, living room, and then your other rooms. Do not kill yourself trying to unpack everything in one day, especially if you plan to paint any of your rooms!
Plan accordingly and stay organized!
So what’s your favorite piece of advice for new homeowners? Let me know below and let’s chat!