housing update #4: lessons learned
when we first began the whole house-hunting process, i remember feeling suuuuper overwhelmed. i had no idea what to expect or how anything worked. that being said, WE SURVIVED buying our first house, so now i want to share some of our lessons with you!
1. get a realtor. just do it. they know more than you. our realtor provided us with a super helpful login to an incredibly up-to-date website of the status of all properties in our area. other websites, like zillow or redfin, are not as current. it can be frustrating when you find a house that you really like and begin to pursue, but then you find out it was sold two weeks ago. the website we had was super accurate!
2. check the history of homes you are interested in. another great feature about the website i mentioned above is that it gave a very detailed history of the homes. you could see when it was last purchased and how much it was purchased for. this information can be helpful when you are considering how much to offer if you are interested enough in a property. we found a suuuuper cute townhome in phoenix that seemed a little pricey, but it caught my eye because the previous owner had a style similar to mine, which would eliminate the need for us to put any work into the house in terms of renovations. when we looked at the purchase history, we found that they had bought it for dirt cheap, which indicated to us that there could possibly be other issues with the home that we couldn't see for pictures online, like location in a not-so-family-friendly area. this was exactly the case with this townhome in phoenix, so we were able to eliminate it from our list without wasting time on physically going to see the property.
3. do not spend what you qualify for in your loan. this one is huuuuuge. brandtly is a huge fan of dave ramsey and really wanted to adhere to his advice of keeping your mortgage payment at 25% (maximum) of your total monthly income. so if you make $1000 a month, your total payment (mortgage payment + utilities + HOA fees + anything else) should be $250. LOL. we looked long and hard for a property that would give us that! it ended up being over $150k LESS than what the bank technically said we "qualified" for. prioritizing this guideline will help you and your partner experience more financial freedom. #MOMONEY #MOFREEDOM
4. there are a lot of additional fees with buying a house. it's not just your down payment! there's property tax, home insurance, closing costs (what you pay all of the people who did the sale for you, AKA your realtor, loan officers, title company, home inspection, etc.)... so keep that in mind as well! there's nothing worse than being hit with all these additional fees that you were completely clueless about.
5. make a list of things that you want... brandtly and i both did this at the very beginning of the whole process! it was super helpful to be on the exact same page and know what the other person wanted.
6. ...and be willing to compromise. if you are buying your first home, you will most likely not find the perfect house that fits all of your requirements. one of brandtly's top three desires in our house was having a garage. one of mine was having a unique exterior with personality that wasn't an exact replica of every other house on the street. the house we ended up buying has a carport and looks very similar to the other units in our neighborhood. haha! and we still LOVE it. marriage, and life in general, i guess, is allllll about compromise. give a little and focus on making your spouse happy. it will be better in the long run.
7. study the housing market of where you are wanting to move. brandtly and i bought at a HORRIBLE time. if we could have waited it out, we would have held off on buying until the market took a turn for the better. unfortunately, we were living with my parents and felt super bad for descending on them as a family of two adults and a super busy (however cute) toddler. if you are able to, i recommend waiting to buy until the numbers work out in your favor. it will save you money when you are buying and eventually selling your house!
8. have a long term plan. have a little DTR (determine the relationship *blush*) with your house. is this a long term thing that you plan to live in the rest of your life? a short-term, non-commital hook up because you'll be finished with grad school in two years and have eventual goals to move across the country? mine and brandtly's is a friends with benefits. we're going to get cozy with our house for 3-5 years and then upgrade as our family grows, but plan on keeping the property for renting purposes. since we knew from the beginning that we wanted to eventually rent it out, we kept that in mind as we were house-hunting.
9. don't rush into it. don't buy a house just because you feel like you "should" or because you feel like it's the "next step". you should buy a house because your life is in a place for you to be able to do so! you don't have to be graduated from school with a six figure paying job and three kids, but just make sure that it makes sense for you and your family. we lived in four different rentals before purchasing this house and only did so because it fits the needs of our lil fam-bam. don't worry about what other people are doing or what they have!
hopefully this was helpful for some of you hopeful house-hunters! let me know if you have any other questions in the comments below. thanks for reading! xo