5 Essential Tips For First-Time Homebuyers

September 13, 2016

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 shareΒ with youΒ 5 essential tips for first-time homebuyers! I hope these tips help your home-buying process to go as smoothly as ours did! πŸ™‚

Essential Tips First-Time Homebuyers

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 Β 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.

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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 5Β 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! πŸ™‚

Now it’s your turn! What advice would you give to first-time homebuyers? Do you have a home-buying story to share?

Want to see more? Follow Small Town Soul on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!Β And don’t forget to share this with someone who would enjoy it! πŸ™‚



  • Laura

    September 13, 2016 at 9:51 am

    These are really great tips! We’re looking at houses now and drawing up areas and “needs vs wants”.. so much to think about!

    I like your final tip best I think, more and more people are going realtor free so it’s an important one to remember!

    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 13, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Thanks, Laura! There is definitely soooo much to think about, and it can be so overwhelming! But once you get through the process, it’s such a great feeling! Good luck on your house hunt! πŸ™‚

  • Kelsey

    September 13, 2016 at 10:21 am

    These are all great tips!! Buying a house can be stressful but if you do it the right way it’s so fun when it’s complete!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 13, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Thank you, Kelsey! I agree 100%! πŸ™‚

  • Samantha @ Momma Wants Java

    September 13, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    These are great tips! Before we bought our house, Hubs and I talked about what we wanted vs. needed in our home. It made the searching process so much easier because we already knew what our deal-breakers were. Congratulations on your new home!!!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 13, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      That is awesome, Samantha! It certainly makes the house hunt much easier! Thank you so much!! πŸ™‚

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    September 13, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    These are great tips! When my husband and I bought a house we made sure to stand firm on how much we were willing to spend. Neither one of us wanted to be house poor. We ended up with the perfect house God had for set aside just for us! Thanks for sharing!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      That is PERFECT, Elizabeth! Absolutely wonderful! God is so faithful to provide! πŸ™‚

  • Kseniya

    September 13, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Great post! Loved the tips!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Thanks so much, Kseniya! πŸ™‚

  • Alyssa

    September 13, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    I’m SO pinning this for later. I’m getting married next year and one of my goals is to spend as little time as possible stuck living in apartments. Thanks for sharing!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Awesome, awesome, awesome! I hope that you’re able to find your perfect home! Thanks, Alyssa! πŸ™‚

  • Catherine Short

    September 13, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Congratulations on the purchase of your first home! When we were first pre-approved I was so surprised at what our max loan amount could be…No wonder the housing crisis happened.

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:47 am

      Thank you so much, Catherine! It’s very exciting! πŸ™‚ Oh, absolutely! It’s crazy what *they* think we can afford!

  • Summer @ Coffee With Summer

    September 13, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Awesome post, Abbey! I hope we can buy soon.

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:48 am

      Thank you, Summer! I have no doubt that your time will come and it will be such a blessing to you! πŸ™‚

  • Dana

    September 14, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Great tips! I think it is super important to make sure you know what you can afford (without going house poor as you mentioned) before looking for that new home!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:48 am

      Thanks, Dana! I absolutely agree! You’re the only person that knows your finances, so you’ve got to make that decision yourself! πŸ™‚

  • Abby @ WinsteadWandering

    September 14, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Great advice! I especially love the third one. Just because a bank or mortgage company says you can afford it does NOT mean you can. A car dealership once wanted to finance a $40,000 car for my husband and I when we weren’t even making that much combined in a year. Yeah, no. It’s your responsibility to know your own finances.

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Thanks, Abby! Yes, girl! Absolutely! πŸ™‚ Haha oh I feel ya there! Only you know what you can afford and it’s so important to stick to that! πŸ™‚

  • melanie

    September 14, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Great tips! I was lucky enough to inherit my grandmas house but I’ve had so many friends get the most expensive house they could afford only to lose it because they couldn’t make those ridiculously high payments for 30+ years. It’s always wise to live well within your means πŸ™‚ Congrats on the new house btw

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:51 am

      Thank you, Melanie! That is wonderful that you were able to inherit a home. Sadly, so many people do go house poor and aren’t able to stay in their homes. It’s so important to make wise financial choices in the beginning! πŸ™‚

  • Tanea

    September 14, 2016 at 9:08 am

    We’re buying a home soon so these are great tips! Our city is very expensive and it’s so tempting to get into a big pretty house. But you’re right, it’s so not worth being house poor. I wanna be able to decorate our home and buy things we need! Thanks for this πŸ™‚

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 9:21 am

      Thanks, Tanea! Glad I could help! It’s definitely worth it to be reasonable with your budget and have money to still lead a good lifestyle! πŸ™‚

  • GiGi

    September 14, 2016 at 9:13 am

    I am so scared about the prospect of buying a house – especially in LA where I live. The market is terribly expensive, and the offerings are NOT what I want. I am being insanely picky, which I think is a good thing, I don’t just want to throw away money… But at times I feel like the fiance gets really impatient because he is dying to settle down and have projects.

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 9:22 am

      It’s definitely one of the biggest decisions that you’ll make! Look for places you could compromise and hopefully you’ll be able to find a house that fits all of your needs and most of your wants! πŸ™‚

  • Paige @ An Uncomplicated Life Blog

    September 14, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Yes to don’t go house poor! Everything costs far more than you think, so if you can barely swing a $250k mortgage you actually truly can’t afford the house because when your water heater, HVAC or main water line goes out, you’ll have no money in savings to pay for it. Love your tips! They’re spot on.

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Amen, Paige, amen!!! That is so vitally important, and it’s a lesson that lots of people unfortunately have to learn the hard way! Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

  • cara

    September 14, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I love the advice on thinking ahead! Regardless of where you are at in your life, it’s always good to plan for the future. Great post!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Absolutely, Cara! Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

  • Erica @ Coming Up Roses

    September 14, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    “Don’t go house poor” – DEFINITELY so true!! My fiance and I were so conscious of that…we KNEW we wanted to do other things and truly live and not just be attached to an empty house for years!

    Coming Up Roses

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Yes, Erica! That is so smart of y’all to be thinking ahead! πŸ™‚

  • KP

    September 14, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    These are great tips! I bought my first home late last year and I wish I had come across your post then – some of these things I had to learn the hard way, haha!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Aw, I’m so sorry that you had to learn those lessons the hard way! But at least if you ever do it again, you’re well-informed! πŸ™‚

  • simi

    September 14, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing this – I am getting ready to start this process myself and your tips will definitely come in handy

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      That is wonderful, Simi! I hope that they help you greatly in your search! πŸ™‚

  • janella

    September 14, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    With the poor economy here in canada, these are some really great tips that people should really pay attention to. Thanks for sharing

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 14, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks so much, Janella! I hope that these tips can definitely help people out! πŸ™‚

  • Brittany

    September 14, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Yes, these are so important! When my husband and I were looking for a home, I could not believe how much the bank “approved” us for — it was definitely an amount we could not have truly afforded based on our budgets! It’s so important to not be romanced by that number. Good for you for making a wise decision!

    1. smalltownsoul

      September 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Thanks, Brittany! πŸ™‚ Isn’t it crazy how much money they’re willing to give you even if you can’t afford it?? Sounds like you made a wise decision, as well! πŸ™‚

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