Take a course
If you are buying for the first time, especially if you know very little about purchasing a home, definitely take a course even if it’s just online. My parents didn’t exactly instill financial literacy into us. I knew the basics (how to write checks, how much to put into savings, don’t max out credit cards) but I didn’t know the fine tune details of buying a house. The initial mortgage we were going to get required us to take a course all about the home buying process and the information in it was incredibly useful. In the end, we ended up not needing it but at $75 total and I gotta say it was some of the best money we spent during this process. If you have the time and money to wiggle this course into your day, I definitely recommend it.
Know your limits
We were prequalified for a mortgage and I mentally decided that I only wanted to pay three-fourths of what we were prequalified for. I wasn’t concerned about what houses in our market cost or what we were allowed to spend according to the bank, I had a dollar amount in mind for what I wanted our mortgage to be and anything above that was a no go for me. I knew even a few thousand dollars would add more to our mortgage than I was comfortable with. Even if we could afford to pay it, I didn’t want even that very slim financial burden. Agree to an amount and make every effort to stick to it.
Be very sure about your must haves
We had the housing check list of nonnegotiables. Three beds, two baths, fenced yard, lay out that makes sense, natural light, LOCATION. Everything else was negotiable because we were willing to make changes. Did we prefer hardwoods? Absolutely. Was it a deal breaker if the house didn’t already have them? Nope. Make sure that the nonnegotiables on your list are accounted for especially things that can’t be changed. We could fence a yard but couldn’t change the direction our home faces towards the sun. We could change a bathroom vanity but not our neighborhood.
My husband and I adore our little town, would do almost anything to stay in it. Only thing is, it’s expensive. We could have gotten double the house for half as much money if we would have just caved and moved twenty more minutes. But we loved where we live and it was important for us to stay here. For us, location was the ultimate must have.
Calm down and don’t get attached
I am someone who has had the same heavy midcentury modern credenza for years because I think of it as a friend. I recycle because I think plastic has feelings and I give clothes to friends instead of selling them because I want them to have a good home. Moral of the story, I’m sentimental but buying a home is not the time to be that way. When you are looking at houses try to maintain emotional detachment. At no time in the buying process did I think of the house as “my home where I’ll one day make Thanksgiving dinner and raise children and let our dogs roam the yard”. It’s a dangerous practice. Either you end up paying too much money for a house because you HAVE to have it or you cry bitter tears when you lose “the one” in a bidding war.
Be aggressive, Be be aggressive
This is actually a crock of horse S*** coming from me. I find it hard to be assertive, let alone aggressive. But it’s totally necessary to figure out the art of negotiation. We ended up using a buyer’s agent (a real estate agent who works for the buyer alone) to find homes, visit homes and inevitably do a lot of the negotiating. Our realtor was awesome. He was warm and charming and fun and funny but when it was time to do business, he handled it. The home that we ended up choosing needed a new HVAC, roof and hot water heater and our realtor got them all for us in spite of the competitive market. It’s incredibly important to be assertive and work in your best interest when buying.
Get the Warranty!!!
Once you do actually buy a home, get the home warranty! I swear to you there are so many things that can go wrong in the home that don’t show up on the inspection. Even if your inspector is an ace, he’s only in the home and inspecting for a few hours at the very most. A lot of the things that they missed can be caught by a home warranty. It’s only $500ish dollars which can seem like a nuisance after shelling out however many thousands of dollars for inspections, closing cost and initial moving cost but I promise you the warranty is worth it. It covers a multitude of sins including the appliances in your home. Such a small amount can cover so much peace of mind for your first year in a new home. We will probably even keep it once this first year is over.
Just Keep Swimming
Last but not least, don’t get buyers fatigue and just cave. Several times over, we saw home where I thought “this is good enough, lets just buy it.” But that is really no way to spend for one of the biggest investments of your lives. Really wait until you feel like the getting is good and then go for it.
I think there are other really useful sites out there on the interwebs that will guide you through buying a home but all of these things were things that no one taught us and I wish they had. What are some things you wished you’d know or feel is was really left out of all the guides when you purchased?
XO Prepford Wife