(Closed) Advice Buying a First House

posted 6 years ago in Home
Post # 2
7890 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

Get pre-approval for a mortgage before looking at the houses so you know what you can officially afford. House hunting is a fun but stressful time. Good luck!

Post # 4
47439 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

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michellia: Decide if this house will be a long term home or a home for now. If it will be your home when you have school-aged children, consider the quality of the schools in your decision making.

Make a list of must-haves, and nice to haves. Then develop a spread sheet so you can keep track of what each home you tour has or doesn’t have. It does become a blur after a while. Take your own pics to supplement those on the website.

If you find a home you like, go back in the evening, night and weekends to see how the environment differs from Monday to Friday 9 to 5.

Post # 5
266 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2016

I’m going to follow this thread! We have our meeting with the mortgage broker next week for our pre approval then we are ready to buy (yay!!) our wedding is going to be in March next year ๐Ÿ™‚ so will be doing same as you ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 6
1065 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

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julies1949:  I love your advice!

im not a homeowner, but one thing my mum always did whem house hunting was make up her own little spreadsheet of must haves and nice to haves and printed them off into a4 forms Which she attached to a clipboard. That way she could just tick things off as she went through. It can be so easy to be swayed by someone’s style decor or  layout that it’s easy to forget whats really important. 

my ther bit of advice is a warning from a friend who just purchased a house. Get an engineers report! Here in aus it isnt compulsory to do one, and my friend just purchased a house from the 80s without one. He’s an electrician, and discovered all the wiring in the house was non compliant and very dangerous. He then got someone in to have a look through the house and lots of the pipe work etc done is a home job which will fall apart at any moment his money he put aside to renovate with is now going on fixes he shouldn’t have had to do. they can be expensive, but well worth the piece of mind to get someone to check the biggest investment of your life. I mean, would you buy a car without a mechanic having a look at it first?

Post # 7
533 posts
Busy bee

A couple of suggestions/things to consider:

Even if it is a ‘starter’ home, make sure you can stay there long term if things change. 

Talk to the neighbors. These people could be your neighbors. Neighbors make a huge difference in your quality of life. I’ve also had potential future neighbors tell me lots of things. ( The home owners are desperate to sell due to a divorce. The basement has water issues. etcetera)

A bad foundation and/or water problems can be some of the most difficult and expensive issues to resolve.

Once you find your home; require a home inspection and get a home warranty.

See a lawyer about some sort of document for two single people buying a house together. (Heaven forbid. But if something should happen before you’re married, the other could lose the house.)

Post # 8
92 posts
Worker bee

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michellia:  Hi Michaellia,  Congrats on your engagement and your journey on house hunting!  It’s one of the most exciting yet stressful times of your life.  Fiance and I just purchased our first home together and it took us less than a week to find “the house” to purchase.  We didn’t expect to have found our home this quick but things sometimes happen quicker than you anticipate!  Our 1st step – get pre-approved so we have an idea of how much house we can afford and be prepared to have at least 10% down payment.  We were really serious about purchasing this home so we wrote an Ernest Money Deposit letting the Sellers know that we’re serious about buying their home.  The EMD goes towards our down payment, home inspection etc. and we will be putting more of our money-on-hand towards the down payment.  

Decide what type of loan is right for you.  Find a good Realtor that will represent you.  Fiance’s brother referred us to his agent and it was very helpful that the Realtor has background in building/construction.  It took us two weekends to look at homes and the second weekend we ventured out in the snow storm of Northern Va we found exactly what we wanted and more.  We didn’t expect to have found a home and have our contract ratified in less than a week.  BUT it took an excellent Realtor who had our best interests at heart, advocated for us, kept us on track, informed us of any possible issues of homes we were looking at, etc.  

There are several steps that has to be done between the time your contract is ratified till settlement; such as, home inspection, radon inspection, apprasial of your home, septic tank inspection (if the home has one) etc. In our case we will close in 30 days (end of March.)  Once you find a home you want to lock-in on the lowest interest rate – keep in mind that the rates change day-by-day and there’s no telling wheather it will go up or down.  The day that our contract was ratified the rate was under 4% and we had’t locked in on a rate yet as fiance and I were trying to decide whether we wanted to go with lender paid mortgage insurance or buyer paid mortgage insurance.  We weighed the pros and cons and what this would look like for us within the next 5-10 years if we went with one or the other… and the following day the interest rate went up slightly but we were both still very happy as it was still way under 5%!!!  Our locked rate is good for 30 days (and this varies dependent on your lender.)  Although, we will not be moving into our home until mid-May as per Sellers they countered requesting Purchaser rent the home to them up till their specified date as their doctor advised them not to move due to wife being in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  So after we close we will become landlords to our Sellers but it all works out for all parties as our wedding isn’t until the end of May and we’re not in a hurry to move.

In closing, I would advise you to find a really really good Realtor that knows more than just showing you a house and looking for a quick commission.  Do your research after you’ve been pre-approved, look at your money-on-hand (your savings) and how much you’re able to put towards a down payment or in our case we had both the EMD and extra cash we will put towards down payment. Another important thing…remind yourself to have fun house hunting as the stress can spoil the fun. Best wishes and happy house hunting!     

Post # 9
1710 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Ask about taxes. Also they can give you a ballpark figure of what your gas & hydro bills will be. Make sure you keep in mind that paint can change your view of a house a lot – don’t let decorating style or wall colours sway you, look more at the layout. 

Post # 10
2013 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

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michellia:  Congrats. ๐Ÿ™‚ DH and I closed on our first home this past September, one month before our wedding. We started our search in March of last year. So about 6 months total. Definitely start with a pre-approval and then decide together how much money you are comfortable spending each month on your mortgage + taxes. Our broker had a wonderful app that let us pick a price and broke down how much we’d be paying in mortgage, taxes, and interest each month. We realized very quickly that just because we were approved for a certain amount, that didn’t mean we were willing to pay that much.

I also agree with PP not to let the cosmetic stuff dictate your decisions. Walls can be painted, carpet can be replaced. If you don’t have a realtor yet, get referrals from people you know. I was hesitant to go with our realtor because she had been in business for less than a year, despite personally knowing 3 people who had used her and raved about her. Instead, I initially contact a realtor that had a very high rating on Trulia and Zillow. She quickly proved to be flaky and hard to get ahold of, and we felt like she wasn’t taking us seriously. She didn’t last long. Good luck!

Post # 11
1640 posts
Bumble bee

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julies1949:  Great idea!!  I’m going to do this!

Post # 12
904 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

Think about the lifestyle you and your SO have/enjoy. Take this into consideration when doing up a budget and deciding how much you can spend. Be realistic about this. The reason I say this is because the bank will most likely give you a figure that is way more than you need. Don’t accept it. You will be house poor and sad. Lol..

Post # 13
589 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - Scottish Rite Cathedral (New Castle, PA)

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michellia:  Congrats! We bought our home while palnning a wedding! We did have a year long engagement and we found our home quickly. It wasn’t that stressful for us honestly! When house hunting we were not in a rush but we started looking right after Christmas, found the house and made an offer beginning of February and closed in April. Closing can take awhiel!! Definitely know how much you can comfortably spend/afford, make a list of your must-haves/wants and discuss them with each other. We got a lot of useful information looking houses up on Zillow! We bought our house from the owner so don’t be afraid to look without a realtor, we had a realtor and also looked on our own and it was worth it! Ask about the taxes, they can be very different and in some neighborhoods very expensive! Be aware of what needs updated and what that will cost you and consider that in your overall amount. For example, we needed to update our heating and air which we used to negotiate with the seller. Definitely try to ignore things that are easy to change, decorations, paint colors, etc. That was a tough one for me!! 

Post # 14
7397 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

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michellia:  Definitely get pre-approved before you start the house hunting process. You need to know for sure how much you acn spend, before you start looking. You don’t want to fall in love with a house outside of your budget – because I can promise you that once you see a house above your budget you will fall in love and nothing cheaper will compare. Remember, just because you are preapproved for a certain amount, doesn’t mean you should or can afford to pay that much. Really you need to decide how much you are comfortable paying each month, and remember it’s not just your mortgage payment but you aso will have closing costs and then thing like utilities, an emergency fund for when things break – and they will!!!

Aside from that I would research areas you’d like to focus your search in. Do a little online looking and see how much houses in your area are going for. You might you need to look into other areas. Try and pay attention to the style of house you like.

New build vs an older home. Many areas have planned communites where you can pick your lot and build. This can be a great choice because the homes often come with a home warranty that will make repairs. With older homes, while you shouldn’t discard a house that may need renovations I think it’s very important to be realstic about what you can and will do. We purchased our first home with ideas for various things we wanted to change/update. 7 years later we’re just now starting to do those updates because after buying our home real life comes back into view and there are a lot of bills associated with it. More people than not go into buying a house that needs renovation with the idea they’ll do it, and it can take many years. I’m not opposed to it by any means – but not everyone is made for home renovations.


Post # 15
87 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2015

My fiance and I bought our first home last year, and are getting married in April this year. It was a really fun experience, and rather easy for us since we paid in cash (we had been saving for years).

– Make sure you have a good down payment. It’s so frustrating to see these House Hunter shows where someone wants to buy a $300,000 house but only has $10k to put down. The more you put down, the easier and more manageble your payments will be. Get pre-approved before you start looking, and don’t buy at the top of your budget simply because “we can spend that high!”. We could have afforded up to $600k and spent barely half that.

<br />- We won the bidding war on our house by being flexible with the terms. The seller had a tenant in the house and their lease wasn’t up for another three months. Ironically, this was exactly when -our- lease was also up, so it worked out perfectly. This also gave us quite a bit of time to do our furniture shopping. (:

– Pick a neighborhood and stick with it in your house hunt. Fiance and I drove around our city for at least a month looking, and when we found this particular neighborhood, we knew instantly it was where we wanted to live long term. When we first went to view our new house, there were kids with a lemonade stand outside the neighbor’s house. (:

Good luck in your hunt! Open houses are a ton of fun, go to as many as you can! We learned a lot about what we liked in a house by visiting several in our hunt.

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by  annek.

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