Since purchasing a home earlier this year, Caitlin has learned quite a bit about the realities of the process! Below, she shares five things you need to do before you buy a home of your own.
Four months ago, my husband and I bought our first house. It was by far the most exciting, exhausting and nerve-wracking purchase we’ll ever make. Really, there’s nothing like going through the process for the first time. It’s a fixer-upper and we aren’t exactly DIY pros, so I’m excited to chronicle our process of learning about home ownership, upgrading areas of our house and really making it ours here on Glitter Guide.
A year ago, I never thought we’d be buying a home anytime soon. We had met with a mortgage broker only to be left discouraged about our financial situation. There was little hope for us qualifying for a home in the area where we wanted to live. Fast-forward one year. With a baby in tow and thanks to a year of saving and help from our families, we were able to qualify for a loan and buy our home. I didn’t really know much about buying a house besides what others had told me. So, before we took the plunge, I enrolled in a class to learn how the financial end worked. I wanted to educate myself the best I could.
Today, I’m sharing five tips in case you’re hoping to purchase a home in the near future. Stay tuned for more posts about our journey as new homeowners!
Our house on move-in day! I can’t wait to tackle the front porch—replace the door, plant the flower beds and give that deck a coat of paint.
5 Things To Do Before You Buy Your First Home
- Research your market. This is so important! Do your homework and research the different areas that you are considering buying a home. If you have kids (or plan to in the future), be sure that you check out the school districts and ratings. We used this site a lot. Also be sure to research crime rates in the area. I went one step further and looked on a local sex offender list. I also liked to see how close the grocery store was, what traffic may be like during rush hour and if there were community playgrounds or beaches.
- Make a list of ‘must-haves.’ Be sure to do this with your partner if you’re buying a house together! It took a lot of back and forth for us to get on the same page, but I highly suggest making your list before you start to look. There’s nothing like finding your dream home only to find out it has something that’s a deal-breaker for your partner. For example, my husband was 100-percent against well water. Knowing there was nothing I could do to convince him otherwise, we simply didn’t look at any houses with well water. Most of my must-haves were cosmetic (some wood floors, good light) while his were more practical (good roof, basement, updated windows etc.). I physically wrote out the list and we went over our ‘must-haves’ and ‘wants’ together.
- Find an agent that’s a good fit for YOU. It’s easy to get “lured” into working with an agent, but treat this experience like an interview process. Meet with several different agents until you find one you mesh with and will be a good fit long-term. You never know how long the process will take. I suggest having them show you a few properties before deciding if you want to work with them. Be sure to let them know you’re a first-time home buyer and are looking for someone to walk you through the process. Don’t be afraid to ask A LOT of questions!
- Meet with lenders. This should probably be number one because it’s so important! It’s best to know your financial status before starting to look for a home. This will give you a better idea of what you’ll qualify for or be pre-approved for before house hunting. Like I mentioned, we met with a lender a year before buying our house. After reviewing our initial paperwork, he was able to inform us that it looked bleak given my self-employment status and my husband’s grad school expenses.
- Create a savings plan. It probably goes without saying that you’re going to want to save up before you purchase a home. However, creating a plan to keep you on track and allow you to budget in all of the costs can be crucial to making the process more manageable. If you are receiving any gifts, be sure to let your lender or bank know so you can document the process correctly.
Next up? I’ll be sharing our living and dining room makeover. We are changing a few things since we moved in to make the place feel more like our own!