For years I’ve been an avid HGTV watcher. I watched closely as families would tour houses to purchase. Purchasing a home was one of my fiancé and I’s top goals for our future together. We sat down and began listing what we wanted in our first house and what we could live without.
For months we surfed the realtor sites oohing and aweing over local houses on the market. After careful thought we decided to take the plunge and apply for a home loan to figure out what our budget really was. Once we were pre-approved so many possibilities opened up for us and we both have learned a lot so far.
Pictures Can Be Deceiving
It’s nice to be able to view houses from the comfort of your own living room. Many homeowners and realtors list multiple pictures of their living spaces to give a buyer an idea of what the house looks like. Although pictures and room dimensions are nice to see ahead of time take caution when planning to look at a home.
The person listing the home wants to show the very best parts of their property to make it look appealing to a buyer. Which in return means they are leaving out the water stain on the ceiling, the dirty spots on the 50-year-old carpet and the mold growing in the bathroom.
It’s a little disheartening when we looked at a home we thought we loved through pictures only to find out it smelled musty and moldy.
Also, houses can be listed on a website even after it’s purchased which gives false hope for a potential buyer. We wanted to view a cute little home with a nice yard that was listed on one site but it turns out it had been off the market for four months!
Lesson: Keep an open mind when first viewing a house in person. Just because a house is photographed perfectly doesn’t mean you’ll instantly love the house when you walk through the door. This process takes time.
Find a Good Realtor
I thought my reality TV house shopping knowledge would make this first time home buying process a piece of cake. Boy, was I wrong. Don’t get me wrong, those shows taught me what to look for in a house but it’s hard to do it on your own.
Contact a local realtor to work with through the process. You can communicate what you’re looking for and they can help you hunt down the right place. Many times there are houses out there that realtors know about that aren’t advertised on websites.
A good relationship with a realtor comes in handy when negotiating a purchase too.
Lesson: Don’t do it all on your own. It’s ok to ask for help when looking for the right house.
Chose Your Loan Wisely
For years my dad always told me “Don’t get a 30-year loan.” It’s engraved in my brain. I’m not advising anyone to avoid a 30-year loan but Dillon and I want to do a 15 or 20-year loan to cut down on interest over the years.
There are tons of loan options out there for young first time buyers. We wanted a fix-rate loan but that might not work best for everyone. There are FHA (Federal Housing Administration), VA, and USDA loans. We considered applying for a USDA loan because there is no down payment needed but decided to go for a conventional loan because it works better for us.
We spoke to several lenders before applying for our loan. Our best fit was the bank we both bank with. They are friendly, fast to respond and are very helpful when we have questions.
Lesson: Sit down and weigh your options before jumping into a loan.
Being a first time home buyer is scary business. We have both rented all of our adult lives and spending money on a house is not a cake walk. Doing research is great but also ask family or friends for advice when making the purchase. I’ve bugged my dad with tons of questions on what is a good investment and what is worth passing on.
It was a tad embarrassing to ask since I’m in my mid-twenties and want to be able to do this on my own but the advice we’ve received is so helpful when we view homes.
Lesson: Put your pride aside and ask for advice.
We haven’t found the right house for us just yet but the search is still on. We want to take our time in finding our forever home. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
What are some tips that you have for first time homebuyers?