You know I bought a condo in August. It was actually a pretty big deal — more so, to everyone else in my life than myself. I think it’s because it’s a major step especially in 2017 at twenty-five years old. Most people talk about not settling down and moving around when they’re my age which is what I was doing a year ago. I wanted to move and do something somewhere else but I didn’t leave Ohio. I could have left, yes but I didn’t. That’s not the point, though. I bought a condo! A gorgeous condo that I’m obsessing over now and buying furniture plus decorating. Like, I’m so into it now that I’m in this place and it was a long time coming.
For a month and a half, I lived in my parents’ office on my mattress while I went through this process. A lot of me was ready to just throw in the towel and go back to renting. But, renting is hard when you have a dog that is a Pitbull and wrongly labeled as aggressive. He’s the furthest thing from aggressive and is the biggest fur baby ever — like most Pitbulls. Anyways, my parents were the bomb and let me stay with them while I got everything together. Ultimately, the process taught me a lot and when I decide to upgrade to a house, I know what to ask and what to do.
Today, I want to get into buying a home and how it’s not as tough as it might seem. Plus, I’m going to share things I learned after the fact to save someone else the extra step I had to take.
Ask every question that you can think of
There are no stupid questions when it comes down to you owning your own spot and putting money into this extravagant thing. I would say that a home is such a big thing to buy. And, the process is going to have so much going on that you need to ask questions. Ask your realtor about the things you don’t understand of for them to break down the process. Continually, ask your loan officer any and everything when you aren’t getting it. I sent an email every single time I got a new update with questions because I wasn’t getting it. At first, I felt dumb but my realtor would let me know that is what they are there for. You should question everything especially if you plan to stay in your home forever. Question why the ceiling looks a certain way or why the railings are stained two different questions. You are allowed to ask whatever you want when your money is going into it.
Look into first-time homeowners programs
If you want to save on the costs, you definitely want to look into this step. There are many programs out there depending on what state you are in and you might qualify for them. For instance, I qualified for down payment assistance and had my closing costs covered when the seller bailed on them. Also, I found out I qualified for the grant for grads right when the 48-month deadline hit so I couldn’t use that. The HUD website is your friend. The one thing about first-time programs is that only specific mortgage companies can do them and the HUD website should provide you with a list of people. A first-time homeowners program can save you a lot. And, the catch? You take a class, take a test and talk about your budget, then meet with a HUD counselor who will discuss the process in more detail and your budget. It’s worth it, look into it.
Save for the extra expenses
You’re going to have extra expenses like the appraisal and home inspection. This is one thing that I wish was mentioned to me because you will be paying for these out of pocket before you even get to the closing process. As soon as you put in your bid for the house and sign the addendum, you are going to be giving a deadline to get a home inspection done. You’re going to find the home inspector on your own or through a referral but you pay when you get the inspection done. These can range from $200-500 which you want to have saved so you aren’t feeling blindsided. I was lucky enough to spend $200 and Don was great. If you’re in the Columbus area, I can definitely send his number. The inspection is a must-have! Some people pass on them but you have someone go in and find the smallest errors and note them so you can bring it to the table before you buy your home. My home inspection led to the seller fixing the shower because there was an issue — I would have never known if Don didn’t check. And, the appraisal is a big one. If you’re dealing with certain programs or lenders, it’s required. Basically, the home is being appraised so that you can find out how much it was worth. In my case, the updates the seller made weren’t enough for the price she listed the condo at and I got it for much less than she anticipated. Score for me! The appraisal is a great way to see if you should go through with the deal or not, especially if the seller doesn’t want to budge.
Schedule a showing for each place
Don’t put in an offer on a place you haven’t seen! I’ve learned that if there are no images of the inside, it’s more than likely going to be trashed. I went to see a foreclosure and it was a hot mess. My dad said it wasn’t even worth trying to restore because the outcome would be more than the updated condo I bought. You want to know what you’re getting into and you want to get a sense of things. A realtor can get you into a place on your schedule. Some places go fast but if you’re lucky, you can get in and see if you like it. Don’t just assume that it’s the one without a visit because it might be smaller than you thought or the picture doesn’t capture the terribly spackled wall. You want to see everything for yourself and see which places make your heart warm.
Test all things when you do your walkthrough
This is a biggie — don’t find out that your plumbing sucks or there is a leak after you move in. You want to do your walkthrough so you can test these things out and bring them up before you fork over your money. I don’t want to be a negative Nancy but the seller is trying to get out and they aren’t trying to delay their process by bringing up things that will keep them stuck in the same spot and putting more money into it. You can’t trust their word in this situation. And, make sure to see how clean it is — throw in cleaning in your addendum, I promise it’s worth it. Moving into a dirty home is not ideal. Not everyone has a good heart and you have to do things on your own. Flush every toilet and turn on the sinks and tub, make sure the oven works — there are going to be some tedious things but you should be extra and make sure you are getting your money’s worth. You don’t need to worry about these things, you just need to enjoy your new place!
Budget for the unforeseen
You can never save too much when it comes to your budget. The more, the better! You need to consider all the things that can happen and plan for it. Unexpected repairs may pop up and you want to have something in the bank to fix that. Don’t just assume that nothing is going to break because there might be an issue along the way. Don’t forget to bargain for that home warranty either! Trust me, this is the one thing I knew ahead of time because of my parents. You want to save so that you’re ready for those surprises that aren’t the best surprises. It’s worth it in the end if you have that money ready for those out-of-pocket expenses.
Ultimately, I didn’t have a bad home buying experience. There were a few delays and things that stressed me out but I am happy with the end result. I learned a lot along the way and I’m happy to share that information if it helps out the next person.
I will say that owning my place feels so surreal. There are moments when I’m just amazed at the fact and blown away. Like, how cool? I have my own condo with my own office and everything is mine. You might not know this but I love that feeling.
If you’re planning on buying a home, research! You can’t go wrong with researching and figuring out things beforehand. The more you know, the more you can control the situation. If you’re about to buy a house or trying to make the jump, good luck! It’s all worth it in the end and you can find ways to make it work.
What have you learned from your home buying experience? Do you still rent? Do you like it?
Melissa Colombo says
Great tips! Especially love the part about budgeting for unforeseen costs- always a good rule for life!
These are great tips! My husband and I will begin our first house hunt here soon.
Yay! Congrats on your new home! These are great tips – testing everything during your walkthrough is key! I also bought my first home last year and it’s been a transition but I am loving the space and not having to deal with neighbors… as much 😉
These are such good tips for a first time home buyer. It can definitely be so tricky to figure things out the first time around. Great post!