10 TIPS TO GET READY: Preparing For Your First-Home Purchase

If you’ve never purchased a home before—or know a first-time buyer—here’s a top 10 list of important tips to make a first-home purchase a great one.

  1. Get preapproved for a mortgage. Don’t stop at prequalification. Learn how much mortgage you’ll be approved for so you don’t waste time looking at homes you can’t buy.

  2. Detail your budget. Understand exactly how much home you can comfortably afford—not just how much your lender will give you. The lender’s preapproved number may be much higher than the amount you know you can safely fit in your housing budget.

  3. Determine all the extras. Do your research and select a homeowners insurance company to calculate what the rate will be for your home purchase. Call the county or check online for property tax information on selected properties. Budget for these two large expenses and any other neighborhood fees.

  4. Coordinate with your family on all needs for the home. Don’t start touring two-bedroom homes to learn that you need a minimum of three bedrooms.

  5. Work with a buyer’s agent. Don’t try to find a home to buy on your own. Remember that a listing agent is looking out for the seller’s best interests—not yours.

  6. Keep your schedule open. As soon as a house hits the market in an area that interests you, make time to tour it. Waiting until the weekend to see it could mean losing the opportunity to buy it.

  7. Understand the real estate market. If homes are selling swiftly and bidding wars are heating up, it’s best to forego asking for concessions, repairs or seller-paid items. When sellers are in the market’s driver’s seat, your demands are likely to cause you to lose out to other buyers.

  8. Establish your final price ceiling. It’s not smart to outbid everyone on a home, only to have the financing fall through when the home’s appraisal doesn’t match the high price you offered. We can advise you on the value of a home.

  9. Don’t skip the home inspection. You may be tempted to drop the inspection to make the purchase go faster. Don’t give up the option; the inspection may reveal that a home has more problems than you’re willing or able to afford to fix.

  10. Don’t expect perfection. Rarely does a buyer find all their ideal wants and needs in one property. Prioritize your needs and know which ones are most important.

What a WEEKEND! I need an extra weekend to rest from the weekend I just had. We were busy as little bees!

For a while now Scott and I have been looking around as houses kind of casually– but we didn’t plan on moving until sometime next year. Our lease will be up near the end of this year and we planned on signing on for another few months. A few weeks ago though, we randomly stumbled upon a house that we LOVED everything about, and it was at a great price. We were ready to make an offer on the spot, we liked it that much! The next day we were on our way to the bank when we recieved a call from the realtor selling the house, apparently someone ELSE came in and offered full price for the house. Bummer. We were really sad and realized that we are more eager than we thought we were to get out of our tiny apartment (with horrible neighbors). So I started to really search, and we went to go see several homes over the course of the past few weeks. We didn’t find any houses we loved as much as the original one, and worst of all, none of the realtors we reached out to seemed to take us very seriously. We were stood up multiple times, some would take cell phone calls while they were showing us a house, most of them didn’t seem very interested in helping us, basically everyone we met was completely unprofessional and not easy to work with. One day, mom and I were driving around looking at houses and we called a phone number on a for sale sign to get more information– the lady who answered the phone was named Michelle. Michelle ended up being the most AMAZING realtor in all of the world– she was so eager to help us and really seemed to know what she was talking about. We spent the entire weekend with her, including Monday, a holiday off work for us. She took us all over town showing us homes she thought we would like, and we ended up finding THE PERFECT HOUSE. We honestly never thought we would find something we loved as much as the orignal house, but thanks to Michelle we did! It’s just beautiful and is literally perfect by our standards. We are working towards putting an offer in on it, and if all goes well we should be in our dream home by Christmas. Exciting, right?

Not only did we spend hours upon hours looking at what felt like a hundred different homes, we also went to the wedding of a couple of our friends, and my sister was home from college for the weekend so I spent some quality time with her and mom. Also, I crammed in some study time for my classes and took two of my midterm exams. Somehow, I also found the time to get some food prep in for the week using up some of my beautiful farmer’s market finds– egg skillet with greens, potatos, onion, and pork sausage, and some roasted sweet potato, steamed broccoli + green beans, and chicken breasts for lunch!

See what I mean about needing a weekend after my weekend?? I think I’ll go take a nap now… :)

Moment Two: Cody bought us a house!

Obviously these moments are not going in order of excitement– but in October Cody bought us a house! I mentioned that we were looking on tumblr I know for sure– but I may not have conveyed what a headache home buying is. Sweet Jesus, it is not as easy as I expected. 

I guess being a nanny and getting to watch hours of HGTV a day ruined me. I expected us to look at homes and fall in love with many. What was totally unexpected was just how many houses suck. And we make good money! Our price range absolutely should not have included houses with nasty water stains all over the carpet– but oh, we saw that and more. Thankfully we found a house that we both fell in love with, eventually, and had our offer accepted. 

We actually bought the second house we put on offer on. The first one’s owners decided they didn’t actually wish to sell after all– and I may or may not have cried at the loss of the home I was already imagining for us. However this actually worked in our favor, because the seller of the second house– the one we actually bought– were willing to fix every single thing on the inspections list! Which NEVER happens! So we moved into an old, but newly renovated and completely updated and safe home. Which has been an amazing blessing. 

Once we are no longer living in boxes I may take pictures for you all. Maybe. And yes, we’re still in boxes a month and a half after moving in. Don’t you judge me!

Happy Home Selling Tip

When you threaten the buyers that you’re going to pull out because they’re taking too long, make sure that when the buyers finish scrambling and get everything in on time, YOU’RE READY TO FUCKING GO.  Otherwise it makes the seller so angry he spends the rest of the day swearing in Klingon.  Why Klingon?  BECAUSE IT’S THE ANGRIEST LANGUAGE I FUCKING KNOW.  

An actual house update

Yay, progress!

The bank has returned a signed contract, so we are officially under contract now! 

Unfortunately, there are indeed pipes missing. Tomorrow we are meeting our real estate agent and a contractor over there, and we have to go through and find out everything that needs to be fixed in the place. Then the contractor will give that list of things to the bank and the bank will… decide whether or not to do anything about it? Not sure precisely. I will hopefully learn more tomorrow, and maybe I will remember to take some photos.

Oh man oh man, I just received this photo!

The roof is totally being replaced by the bank, plywood and all. That’s completely amazing, because although they said they would do it, I didn’t really expect them to actually do it.

Hopefully we can inspect soon! Still no completion estimate on this, but so far the pattern has been that the bank drags its feet, but the contractors are timely. Fingers are crossed.

House stuff

I neglected to update about how our housing situation has been progressing, but things are actually looking good! Last week was very productive.

The HUD inspection went well - the inspector was able to keep the renovation cost proposal in our budget. No major house horrors cropped up. Probably the biggest issue is that the electrical system needs updating.

Our contractor was able to come in over the weekend and look at the inspector’s notes and give his bid for the work. He said his bid would be lower, especially because we are totally going to do a bunch of the work ourselves, and of course he is fine with that.

Also, our landlord ended up offering us a rent extension until October 24th, so although we had to dip into our down payment fund a little for the extra rent, we now have a lot more wiggle-room, not to mention time to do the majority of the renovations before moving our stuff and our cats into the house. Plus we won’t have to dismantle the workspace until the last minute, and we should be able to get set right back up in the new place, again, without having to wait for renovations to get done first.

We signed a whole bunch of papers to get the loan process rolling, and apparently something regarding the title work is currently underway. 

All in all, I think things are finally starting to look up!

Also, vacation! We made it to the Adirondacks safe and sound. The cabin/house has wifi, so I’ll see if I can post photos along the way!

Housing situation non-news part II

We still have the previous flooded house under contract. In theory, they plan to fix it. Mostly we’re just holding on to something until we have another contract.

Our house hunting over the weekend was actually not unfruitful. We found a place that, while it’s not a dream home, definitely has potential. We are putting in an offer as soon as possible, although there are some hangups with the loan - mainly this house doesn’t qualify for the grant program we wanted to use, so we have to apply for a normal mortgage with a different company. 

Cross your fingers that we can get an offer in on time.

Small Life Update

I haven’t been posting as much lately. My work schedule changed, and I work in the secure PCI compliant room, so I can’t have my phone in there anymore.

But the important update is that Kate and I put in an offer on a house. And it got accepted! So we may be moving soon.

We’re really excited, and very nervous right now. But this means big things for us! Keep your fingers crossed!