It only took my husband and me three years of constant searching, soul-crushing rejection from being outbid, and nights of teeth-grinding worry over our finances before we purchased our first home. Any home buyer will tell you this is a painful experience. However, it is also very exciting and strangely satisfying. Here are some things I learned from this very strenuous but very rewarding process.
You will feel like a little kid in a grown up world. My husband and I just hit our thirties, but honestly, we look like we just made it to the legal drinking age. When we decided, as grownups do, that “We should buy a home”, we started spending every weekend going to open houses. We couldn’t help but notice that the realtor on duty always paid more attention to older-looking prospective buyers a.k.a. people who probably had more money than we did.
You will find that your perspective will change. I’m something of a free spirit. I’ve lived in multiple cities and have switched up jobs with each move. I’ve always lived in places where I could walk to the nearest coffee shop or grab a bite to eat at the corner restaurant. I used to say that I “would never move to the suburbs”. Well, joke’s on me ‘cuz that’s exactly what I did. Primarily it is more affordable. It’s also a little easier imagine raising a family in the ‘burbs. Yes, of course, people raise families in big metropolitan areas, but unless your last name is Kardashian, it can be tough to live the life you want in a $$$ kind of city.
You will forfeit shoes, dinners, and drinks, (pretty much fun in general) to make sure you have enough for the down payment. We were first time buyers so we were able to qualify for an FHA Loan, which only required 3.5% of the payment as opposed to the standard 20%. While this meant that we didn’t have to put as much down, we still had to fork over a substantial amount. Like most people we know, my husband and I weren’t the best at saving and lived that “I want that $5 a day coffee” lifestyle that kept us financially unfit. So, in order to shape up and get financially “fit,” we began saving, didn’t eat out as much, and went for hikes on the weekend. Ya know, did stuff that didn’t cost any money.
You will go on Pinterest day and night and watch HGTV all day, everyday. For ideas and stuff. You’ll also get really irritated at people on those home buying shows for being picky about wall color. You will scream “Just paint it!” at your TV over and over again.
You will learn that your finances harbor a deep dark past that will surely come back to haunt you. Make sure that you are aware of that credit score, and if you’re like me and buying with someone else, that their credit score is good too. Perhaps you forgot to pay a cable bill back in, I don’t know, 2009! Well, that can definitely ruin your score and make life waaaay hard.
You will have the most sleepless nights ever. Buying a home is a huge commitment. It’s a big deal. To us it meant that we better stay employed and better be able to make our monthly mortgage payments. We were now permanent residents of our new zip code. Or, at least, more permanent than we had ever been before.
And lastly, you will feel unimaginable joy and excitement. At least, that’s what I felt. Owning our own home meant having our own garage and not having to fight and search for a spot in the street. It meant having a place to do our own laundry whenever we wanted. It meant not having to deal with paper-thin walls and neighbors who watching TV with the volume turned ALL the way up. It also meant that we had a place that we owned and could call our own. Not to mention equity! We have equity! Such an adult thing to say! And the best part of all is having friends and family over to celebrate. Did someone say house party?!