November 11, 2013

Tips on Home Buying

Well, we are moved in! It's been a lot of work and at times I wanted to pull my hair out thinking about all of this junk that we have to organize, but we are slowing chipping away at it. I'm hoping to have some pictures to show you soon! Even if it's not totally "finished" I would love to do a tour of the house here on the blog. I took some "before" photos on my phone the morning before we moved our stuff in, and unfortunately those photos are gone. I accidentally washed my phone in the washing machine (don't ask) and anything after my last backup on iTunes on October 1st was lost. In better news, I think I have a little more knowledge on the iCloud now, so hopefully this won't happen again.

Anyway... back to the point of this post!

While it's still fresh on my mind, I wanted to share some tips we picked up on buying our first home. This is our first go-around with this whole process, and I know we're not experts. And this list is by no means exhaustive. But I thought I'd share some of the experience I've gained during this whole thing!

1. Research first, online and by driving around. Look at location, different price points, different styles of homes, etc. BEFORE you go out and look with a Realtor. Find out if price, location, or size is most important to you. For us, we wanted a very specific area, limited to only a few neighborhoods. Once we figured that out, we were able to see what type of house we could afford in our price range. I wanted a single family home but quickly realized that what we could afford was a townhouse, and that was okay because the location was more important to me. Use the internet and go drive around. It's worth it before you start touring homes!

2. Make a wishlist. I would actually say make two lists - one list of things that your house MUST HAVE, and another list of things that would be nice, but aren't deal-breakers. I gave these lists to our Realtor as well. Some things on our "must have" list were: garage, 3+ bedrooms, price, and the location we wanted. On our "would be nice" list we had: hardwood floors, updated kitchen, outdoor space, neighborhood pool. There is no right or wrong way to do this, it is totally up to you what's important to you (and your spouse or partner!).

3. Save. This might be obvious, but even if you are not doing a full 20% down payment, you will have so much to pay for and it's wise to have a good amount of savings on top of the amount you've saved for a down payment. Things like closing costs, the home inspection, moving costs, installation fees for moving your cable or satellite service, etc. are all extra costs not included in the purchase price and they can add up really fast. You also have no idea what may happen in the first few months (AC unit breaking down, water heater leaking...). Even though buying a home is technically better in the long run, it's expensive beyond just the cost of the house, and it's good to be prepared before jumping in.