10 Things I've Learned As a First-Time Home Buyer
Goodevening everyone! Since I'm going on my third month in my very first purchased home, I've had to deal with A LOT of stuff. There is also a lot of stuff I wish people told me as I went into buying a house. Not that I regret it, but it comes with a handful of lessons on it's own. Buying a house is stressful enough as it is, so I figured to share some take-away lessons that I learned!
One - Be there for the home inspection.
A lot of people told me there was no reason to be there, but I'm glad I did anyways! It was long and I was REALLY tired, but when yours comes up, bring a coffee (or two) and be there! Bring a note book and a couple pens and be ready to write down EVERYTHING. Now, why would you do this when they formulate a report for you? Well. When you are present for the inspection, the inspector will do more than inspect, he'll give advice on things he notices, off-the-record. This isn't something he or she is just going to write out for you, but they won't be mad if you write it down. They told me everything down to the last detail about the house. And now I have a very long list of very small projects that will impact the house greatly!
Two - Trust, but verify.
All anyone ever says about home buying, is that is is really stressful. That's an understatement! Not only is the process stressful, but ever since I got in the game, it's seemed like to me and my friends that the bank could care less if you ended up with the home. DO NOT feel bad for calling and nagging them to get things done! Document everything, pay attention to every deadline that the loan officer and processor have to do! ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE DOING A VA LOAN. That stuff was painful. Everybody kept dropping the ball and my closing date got pushed by a whole month! Hold people accountable. If you are willing to spend that much money, the least you could get is a little customer service around here.
Three - Don't be afraid to request your sellers to fix or provide something on your offer.
Everyone walks on eggshells when it comes to requesting things on the offer. For example, I lived in Guam when I found the house I bought. I put an offer on it without ever seeing it in person! But who does that? Well, my realtor recommended that I raise my earnest money in exchange for holding the house in a pending status until I saw it in person. Since the house had a fire place and a heating system, I requested that the chimney and heating system be cleaned before we entered. But, I also didn't mind the listing price at all and this was no deal to pass up. But we got those things! They even got us a home warranty and they paid almost all closing costs! There is no shame on asking for things. Most of the time when people are selling, they are walking away with more money than they had before so usually they don't mind here and there. But what's the scariest thing they can say? No? Because if they do, you still have a time period to respond with a counter offer.. It's like a little negotiation. Don't feel silly at all, you're paying like 300K. Why wouldn't you be allowed to ask for what you want?
Four - If home warranty isn't included, buy some!
I'm so lucky our sellers included home warranty for a year. I honestly didn't really understand why I would need that until... well, my oven's glass exploded, my heating system freezes in the negative degree weather, my dishwasher clogged, etc. Things happen and will happen and there is no stopping them. So, unless you are a jack of all trades and are a genius who can fix literally every little thing in your house on your own (I would seriously be jealous), get the home warranty! It's so nice to be able to pay only 100 dollars for a service request about pretty much any household appliance or system and get whatever I need fixed or looked at.
Five - Either get the house professionally cleaned or clean it yourself before you move in.
It seems like common sense but you'd be surprised at how many people actually don't think they need to do this. I personally recommend just hiring someone to do it. I know money is tight around the time of closing, but dropping the 300-400 dollars it would take to get a maid in there before you move all your stuff in will not only help it feel new, but it will alleviate your stress too. I mean, think about it, you just signed all these documents, wrestled with a bank to get past the finish line, packed all of your stuff, moved, etc. The LAST thing you want to deal with is deep scrubbing a whole house! But I also understand that saving is important too. So if you feel you have the gumption to take care of business on your own. I commend you. And, I'm also jealous of your energy and motivation levels.
Six - Time to trash your old budget and make a new one!
Look, to each his own, but I'm going to tell you right now, your old budget won't work. Unless you miraculously have a mortgage that is exactly what your rent was and you didn't need to buy or do anything to the house to move in (I hope you cleaned it). Your priorities have to change now. I didn't realize until the above situations happened to me. Now, we have a reserve for things that happen and we have a plan for emergencies. But what if they weren't emergencies anymore? What if we also had a reserve for just the house? That way, we don't need to even ever think about touching emergency funds! Exactly. Which ever budgeting method works for you is awesome, but ladies and gents, I suggest you hop on Instagram, and check out @thebudgetmom on instagram. Just make sure it's the verified account that you're looking at. Ever since I got on her level, things have been amazing. My husband and I are starting to see EXACTLY what is happening as we spend our money on a whole other level than before!
Seven - DO NOT forget to transfer your utilities!!!
Also another thing that seems like common sense, but once you feel battered and bruised from the whole home buying process, you're in the house and you have the necessities set up for now, you're gonna say, "hey, we can worry about it tomorrow, we've done a lot, so let's just rest." But you will probably forget! You're finally in your home and have your keys and feel like the world is yours! You aren't thinking about more chores the next day! And if you do remember... I once again commend your energy and motivation.. And if you have two points on me?.... I suck LOL.
Eight - Take it easy on the home upgrades for a second.
I don't recommend jumping straight into little projects because lets face it, all you want to do is make the house your own. However, right now, your mind is full of some crazy ideas... plan it out and think it through first! Make out a list of things you want to do and figure out which are wants and which are needs. Definitely go by your needs first. How do you know what you need? Refer to those notes from the home inspection! They told you everything that was in code and out of code. All of those red items should come first because they take away from the house! And.. They are safety issues too. Then once you cover those bases, you can start on the indoor projects that only fulfill your wants.
Nine - Spend your money wisely!!
We all visualize ourselves in our new house with everything we want and need. This is NOT the time to be buying yourself everything you feel you might need possible. My husband and I bought a lot of things we said we needed, but they could've waited. So much is changing for you financially and what you don't want, is to forget about some other obligation and come up short somewhere. Relax on buying things for a second, especially if you didn't save money for this moment. If you didn't save a couple grand for the small incidentals, don't go buying things if they can wait! A TV mount is not necessary right now.. For now, find something temporary and make sure you are keeping everything in check!
Ten - Make sure someone is monitoring the home carefully your first few weeks moving in.
I say this because you don't know what random person has a spare key to your lock. And also, seeing the moving trucks makes your house a target to crime because its really easy to steal labeled boxes!! So, contact your home warranty and request a re-key for your new home. Or, do it yourself if you're the jack of all trades person I was talking about earlier. I bring up the crime part because some people don't want to stay in the house until it's set up all the way. I understand some people have their preference, but just make sure your are monitoring it at least with a security system at that point. I would hate for you to lose some stuff right when you move in because you already have enough on your plate!
Alright everyone! That's my tips I wish someone would have mentioned to me before I bought a house! I was very lucky that I had an amazing realtor that helped me with my bank and taught me the processes of home buying and all else. She didn't feel like just a realtor, she felt like a mom or sister who didn't want me to get screwed over!! So shout out to Amy Neuharth for being my teacher and always being reliable for me and my family!
If you are in the Anchorage, AK area and need to find your dream home, her information is below! I 100% recommend!!!