As of August 31st, Caleb and I are officially homeowners! Yay! We love our new house! As with any new house, there are some things that we want to change, but it is such a good fit for us and we are excited to live here for many years to come. Overall, our home-buying process went smoothly, which we are very thankful for. Today, I want to share with you 5 essential tips for first-time homebuyers! I hope these tips help your home-buying process to go as smoothly as ours did! 🙂
Make a list of wants and needs.
Before you even start looking at homes (back away from realtor.com), you need to make a list of wants and needs. This helps you to go into the house hunt with a clear focus. You may want a pool, but if it’s not a deal-breaker, make sure it goes on the want list. This will allow you to prioritize your actual needs over what would just be really cool to have. Of course, sometimes you can get all your wants AND needs, but it’s always best to assume that you won’t and to focus on your needs. This helped us to wisely choose a house that met all of our needs over a house that only half-met most of our needs.
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Check your financing options.
There are lots of financing options available, no matter what stage of life you are in, so make sure you explore and see what all is out there! We started with an online loan company, moved to a bank, and ended up getting a loan from a family member. Of course, that is not an option for everyone, but make sure you check with multiple financial institutions and loan companies to see who will give you the best interest rate. Also consider who you feel the most comfortable with. We did not enjoy working with an online loan company because everything was over the phone or Internet, but if that makes you comfortable, then that may be the perfect option for you! Just make sure you do your research before you make a commitment. You don’t want to buy a home with any regrets.
Don’t go house poor.
Here’s the thing, guys. I don’t think banks and loan companies are evil, but I do think they know how to make the maximum amount of money that they can, and I think they use that to their advantage. Once we had narrowed our search down to two houses, we knew the maximum amount of money we would need was $50,000. However, one loan company offered us up to $100,000. Simply put, there is no way on God’s green earth that we could ever afford a monthly payment on a $100,000 loan without selling our firstborn’s birthright. Yet, they were willing to lend us that money so that they would make more money off interest. Not cool. For us, we figured out our maximum payment that we could make every month, and we would not take a loan that was over that amount. Otherwise, we would be house poor, and every month would be a stretch, just so we could have a nice home. It’s not worth it, friends. Don’t do it. Figure out your top dollar and stick to it, even if they’ll give you more money.
Consider the future.
It came down to two houses for us: a small two bedroom with no room for expansion, or a larger three bedroom with room to create additional bedrooms, if necessary. Since we had just found out that we were expecting our first child, the choice was a no-brainer. We picked the three bedroom. Of course, many young couples can’t afford a house this big to start off with, and that’s okay. But consider the future when buying a home. If you are expecting your first baby, it’s probably not smart to buy a one bedroom that you can’t grow into. But, like I said, you don’t want to go house poor either. So consider your financial options, your near-future needs, and even resale value before jumping into a home purchase.
Communicate with the seller, your realtor, bank, title company, etc.
This was the only hiccup in our home-buying process. We live in a very small town, so we didn’t use a realtor. It was just us, the sellers, and the title company. Due to some miscommunication in multiple channels, we were not able to close on our original closing date, we ended up having to have the papers redrawn, and we didn’t close until a week later. It all ended up working out fine, but make sure that you communicate with everyone involved. Make sure that the correct information is on the title and mortgage papers, know exactly what you need to bring to closing, and discuss what you can do to make this process go smoothly. You will save yourself a lot of time and headaches if you communicate throughout the closing process and make sure everything is taken care of.
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There they are, friends! My top 5 essential tips for first-time homebuyers! We are so blessed to own a home at such a young age and in our first year of marriage. God has truly provided for us, and we are so thankful! I hope that your process goes just as smoothly and that these tips give you the guidance that you need! 🙂
Now it’s your turn! What advice would you give to first-time homebuyers? Do you have a home-buying story to share?