Hi Friends! I’ve thought long and hard about today’s post. I haven’t been able to decide if I wanted to share a progress update on our house or my tips for first time home buyers. I’m guessing by the title, you can tell what I decided!! (I want to wait to share another progress update with you. Fingers crossed I can get a pretty picture or two to share this weekend!)
Buying a home is such a huge step in anyone lives, so I’ve decided to use this blog as a platform to share everything we’ve been learning along the way. We thought we were so prepared, yet we found ourselves feeling like we were floating around in space without space suits on. (Not being dramatic. It really is that stressful.)
But with the right people around you, and the right tools in your back pocket, it’s a process that you can make it through mostly unscathed.
So, before we show all our fun progress photos, Trev and I have rounded up a list of the 10 Tips we think will be most helpful when buying your first house!
- Learn the Process… and the lingo. (There is a lot of terms you might not know. Click here for a cute little guide!) Like any other major life event, there is a process to buying a home. I remember feeling super overwhelmed and not even knowing where to start. We ended up taking a home buyers class and tbh, it didn’t help us at all. We were just as confused as when we started the online course and realized by the end, it was kind of a waste of our time. So instead…
- Find a great realtor! This seems like a bit of a no brainer, but finding someone you can trust and feel has your best interest (not their wallet) in mind is the number one thing you can do to help yourself out through the entire process of buying a home. Our realtor, Sam, was the best realtor we could have asked for. He helped us from beginning to end, and I know that if I randomly had a question today, I could reach out to him and he would help me at the drop of a hat. He explained everything to us, step by step. He was real with us, gave us reality checks when we needed them, and helped us find the perfect spot to call home. Choosing the right realtor can be tough, especially when there is so many out there! If you don’t know where to start, ask friends or people you trust who their realtor was and if they would recommend them. That is how we found Sam! (If you’re looking to buy a house in South Eastern Michigan, seriously send me a message! I would be more than happy to send you his contact information.)
- Set a budget… and stick to it! Remember this… YOU KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD. I feel like I can’t scream this at you enough. The bank is going to tell you what you can afford on paper. But what they might not tell you is that number means you could have zero wiggle room for anything else (including groceries). When we got our amount, we honestly could not believe how much they were willing to give us. We talked to our loan officer (he was great too!) and told him what we felt comfortable spending a month on our mortgage. He ran some numbers and was able to let us know about what price point we should be looking at. This was helpful because we never ended up falling in love with a house that was out of our budget.
- Make a specific needs and wants list. I thought that by not having a long list of things I needed for a house to work for us, I was being a good client. But really, I ended up being frustrating. (I think!) While being open to a lot of things is great, it makes it hard to narrow down your search. So really think about what you refuse to buy a house without (ours was having two bathrooms) and the things you don’t actually need. (Lookin’ at you, bedroom number 4.)
- Be realistic. Take a note from the Property Brothers, and realize you’re probably not going to get your dream house. And depending on your budget, it may not be “move in ready” either. Remind yourself that this is OKAY. You can make any house your home by putting in a little bit of elbow grease! (Seriously. You’ve seen what our house looked like before!) Just remember, fixing up your home isn’t as easy as Chip and Jo make it look. It takes a lot of time and effort, so if your schedule doesn’t allow for it, it may be worth spending a little more on something that you feel is move in ready!
- A down payment is really helpful. You don’t technically have to have a large down payment (or in some cases, any down payment) but in our experience it’s been really helpful. We were able to get a better loan because of it, and were prepared for all the extra costs you don’t realize come with buying a home. (Like closing costs, inspections and repairs.)
- Shop for loans like you would a Birkin bag. In other words… BE PICKY. Don’t settle for the first one that looks good. Talk it through with different loan officers, and take advice from others you trust. We ended up using a smaller company that our realtor recommended. We’ve been super happy with our choice!
- Browse, browse and browse some more. Looking for houses online is kind of like putting everything you want from the #NSale in your cart and leaving it sit there without ever ordering it. I spent months checking out what was on the market on sites like Zillow and Trulia before we even found a realtor. This helped me to see what was out there and for what prices… which really helped set my expectations before we started the home buying process. I continued browsing after we got our realtor, just differently! He set us up on a private site, where we could see homes before they went on Zillow and Truila. (Most realtors have these! That’s why you see a house go up and then be pending hours later on Zillow…) I spent HOURS scrolling through the houses that were out there seeing which ones I might like to go visit in person.
- Don’t Rush! Seriously. Whatever you do, TAKE YOUR TIME. Do not feel pressure to settle. This is a massive investment… you don’t want buyers remorse a month after the paperwork has been signed. Seriously. We saw about 40 houses before we found one that was right for us.
- Know you’ll be nervous… and that is totally normal. Does anyone else start FREAKING OUT that they are making the wrong choice when they get nervous about something, and then worry so much about it that you convince yourself the reason you’re nervous is because it’s the wrong decision for you? (Just me?) I was SO ANXIOUS throughout the entire process. Like nervous, felt like I was going to throw up, panic attack-y anxious. It was such a big decision that I almost let my nerves get in the way of buying our house. Just know, you’re going to feel like this. Take a second to take a step back and remind yourself that yes, this is a big decision, but don’t let fear get in the way!
And whatever you do… try to enjoy it! I know that it’s stressful… but I promise, it will all be worth it in the end!
How many of you are in the process of buying your first house? Or maybe you just got your keys like we did! If you have any tips to add, leave them in the comments below!
Alright my loves. I’m signing off for the next 11-ish days! If you need me… I’ll be on Martha’s Vineyard 🙂
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to follow along on our trip in real time!!