August 9, 2014

Tips for First Time Homebuyers

The pink palace in all her glory, the first summer after we moved in
Hello friends!

I wanted to share a little insight I gained during the very long process of finding and buying the pink palace. You can read about that journey here.

I am no expert, but I have been through the process and I learned A LOT.

Here are the tips that I wish someone would have told me:

1. Keep it in perspective
Yes, you have a dream house in mind, in your dream neighborhood. Newsflash! - you most likely can't afford it. Remember this is your "starter" home. It is not (or at least in my case it wasn't) the big beautiful house you plan on raising your kids in. It is a way to get to that house. This home is to build equity, learn about home ownership and prepare you for your dream house.

2. Keep an open mind
Back on that dream house and dream neighborhood - be open to viewing things outside of your comfort zone (not your budget). Most likely you can get a lot more for your money going to a different area of town you never considered. I went a little outside the areas that I had deemed "approved" in my mind and I am actually very happy with the new area I now live in, which I would have never considered.

3. Don't judge a  book by the cover
This goes back to being open minded. Don't rule out a "fixer upper" that isn't in too bad of shape. If things are mostly cosmetic, what you should actually consider it is a "customizable" home. Paint, floors even the yard and exterior can be changed if the home has good bones and a nice layout. I couldn't be more happy that I picked a home that needed work - it is now done to my taste and I only had to put a few extra thousand dollars in. In the grand scheme of things, what I did myself would have cost me tens of thousands of dollars to have pre-done in another house. Obviously you need to keep your budget in mind when buying a fixer, to have room to do those fixes, but don't rule them out!

4. Keep resale value in mind
Again, this home most likely is one you will only have for a short (ish) amount of time in order to build equity and move on to your dream house. So that means you need to be able to sell it. If it backs up to an interstate, is across the street from a hoarder, or is in some other undesirable location, it will be hard for you to sell and make money on. Also - the more bathrooms and the bigger the kitchen the more likely to sell. During my search it HAD to have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms or it was a no-go, because I knew anything with less rooms/baths would be difficult to sell.

5. Stop nagging on the small stuff
It took me OVER A YEAR to find a house. Why? I knit-picked every little thing at every little house. The result?  A lot of really good properties slipped by me. If you are keeping it in perspective, and keeping an open mind, little quirks should not be deal breakers. I let myself have too many deal breakers. It extended the search greatly and for no real reason other than ones I made up.

6. Don't get too attached
At the end of the day an offer made on a home is not a done deal. I made the mistake of entering short sales - both of which fell through after MONTHS of waiting. But even traditional sales are not a sure bet. When you put in an offer it may be countered out of your budget or there may already be a better offer on the table. Sometimes you don't even get the chance to put in an offer before the place is snatched up. So don't let yourself fall in love till you are signing for your keys - ok maybe a little sooner than that, but be careful!

Are you on the hunt for your first home? Have you bought already? What are your tips?!


  1. These are all great tips - if people watch Property Brothers you can get the point. We're not looking for a house yet but when we do, these are all things I know I need to keep in mind: esp to keep an open mind. Have a great one Laura! -Iva