What I learned from my first home-buying experience

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Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

Hello, from a new first time homeowner! I’ve been on a sort of hiatus the past month due to buying a house. As a matter of fact, today is probably the first day in a month that I have really sat down and got to relax and write a bit.

Let me be the first to tell you, that owning a home is not an easy task. And that is coming from someone who hasn’t even seen the brunt of it yet. Within these few weeks that I have been on my own I have recognized how easy I had it growing up, and I feel extreme guilt for any crap that I ever gave my parents about cooking, cleaning, and all of the above.

However, I will also be the first to tell you that it is completely worth it. I am currently sitting at my kitchen table as I write this (my office isn’t quite finished yet), and as I look around the room I am sighing with a sense of accomplishment that I own everything around me, including the roof I am sitting under and the walls that surround me.

I knew that buying a home wasn’t going to be all rainbows and butterflies, but it was still an exciting adventure, and it is still only just the beginning.

Sure, there are things that I am still learning each day about owning a home (like how much it costs to fix an air conditioning unit), but there is so much that I have learned in this journey so far.

If you are looking to start your search for a home, here are a few of the things I learned while shopping for our home. Now, I bought my home with my fiancé, so if you plan on buying a home on your own, things may be a bit different for you. In any case, maybe you’ll find some of my insight useful.

 

Give yourself a budget, and comprise a plan

One of our biggest fears about buying a house was going broke in the process. We didn’t want to buy more than we could pay for. There are a lot of other expenses to take into consideration when buying a home. The down payment and monthly mortgage are not the only costs that come with your purchase. In addition to your down payment, one time costs will also include paying for the inspection of the home, closing costs (which is different for every home), costs to move (movers, moving truck, etc.), and if you’re first time homebuyers like us, our mortgage company required us to take a first time homebuyers course, which also had a fee attached.

As far as monthly payments go, in addition to your mortgage, you must pay property tax, home insurance, utility bills such as gas, electric, water, cable and sewage (depending on the township you live in these bills will vary), and if you are living in a particular housing development, you may have to pay a homeowners association fee.

Don’t forget, if you’ve never lived on your own before, you will have to buy everything you need to live, and I mean EVERYTHING. From couches and kitchen tables, to things you may not even think of right off the bat, like Q-tips or tissues. I’ve got to admit, we still find ourselves running to the store most days. You really don’t realize what you need, until you need it.

With all of that being said, maybe you want to think twice about purchasing that luxurious $250,000 house, and settle for the $160,000 instead. Don’t buy what you don’t need, it will benefit you in the long run.

 

Learn to compromise

Learning to compromise during the home buying process is such a key component to buying a house. Maybe you want a walk in closet, and your partner wants a big back yard for the dog. Not all houses in your price range are going to have both of these things, so you’re going to have to learn to compromise.

There are quite a few things that I wanted in a house (like a breakfast nook), that I didn’t necessarily get in this house. But, there are so many great things in this house that I didn’t realize I loved and wanted or needed until we took a look at this house.

The best way to learn to compromise is make a list and prioritize. Make a list of things you absolutely must have, things you absolutely don’t want, things you want but could live without, and things you don’t necessarily want but could deal with.

Remember, chances are your first home won’t be your forever home, so don’t have a meltdown if your first house doesn’t have that swimming pool you’ve always wanted.

 

Cosmetic changes can be made

One of my biggest issues while searching for a home was that I would judge a book by its cover. If the first room I laid my eyes on was painted an ugly color, or covered in hideous wallpaper I was immediately turned off. However, as we looked at more and more homes I realized, these things can be changed.

Don’t worry about the color of the walls, or what kind of plants are planted outside. These are all things that you can change or remodel, making the home a little bit more personalized to you.

When looking at a home, you want to take into consideration the underlying issues the house may or may not have. For instance, does the roof leak? Are there plumbing issues? How old is the HVAC system? Do the windows need to be replace? Is there termite damage? How about mold? These are all big issues that in the end can cost you a pretty penny.

Just think, would you rather pay $50 to repaint a room or $8,000 for a new air conditioner?

 

Don’t rush or get frustrated, you’ll know when a house is right for you

I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of houses that we looked at that we just weren’t into. We even went as far as to cancel tours of the house because we rode by the house, took a walk around the outside and realized there is far too much wrong with the outside that we couldn’t even imagine what the inside looked like.

Sometimes, you just have to be patient. I can’t imagine what things would be like if we rushed into buying a house that we didn’t 100% love. Honestly, we would probably be miserable and broke.

The house we are in now was brought to our attention by a co-worker of my fiancé’s. He knew we were looking for a house and sent a link to us. My fiancé showed me photos of the house and I agreed that it was beautiful and perfect size. We realized this house was too good to let pass us by, so we made an appointment to see the house and we were inside it the next day.

Sure, there were things that we had to compromise on, but in the end we really fell in love with the house. Fast forward a month and here we are. When a house is right for you, believe me, you will know.

 

Take into consideration how big of a commitment owning a home is

Owning a home isn’t the same as leasing an apartment. If you want to own a home, you need to be in it for the long haul. Because if not, your credit can suffer immensely. With that being said, if you aren’t completely sure about living on your own, but you want to try it, I would suggest trying an apartment first. Especially if you plan on living with a roommate. You may think you know the person you plan to room with, but you don’t know a person entirely until you live with them. They could be the messiest person on earth, but if you never lived with them you won’t know this. So remember, owning a home is a commitment.

 

Grant it, this is my first home, I wouldn’t consider myself a home buying expert. But, I can say that I learned a lot from purchasing a house.

If you have any tips about buying a home, or even owning a home, leave a comment! I’m learning as I go and would love to hear what you have to say!

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