Today marks exactly one year since my husband and I signed the papers that made us homeowners! We love living in our home. Some days it seems like we've just moved in, and on other days I can't even remember what it was like living in our old apartment.
We had a relatively painless experience shopping for a home, which I know is not the norm. We only looked for a few houses before landing on "the one," and we were able to purchase our home at a relative bargain. Even though I would not be so brazen as to assume that our next home purchasing adventure will be so seamless, nevertheless I did learn a few valuable lessons which I will surely apply to my next significant purchase.
- Get pre-approved, but don't let your pre-approval maximum determine your budget. We were approved for an amount that, when broken down into monthly payments, and taking into consideration the additional costs of home ownership (taxes, insurance, utilities, additional furniture, savings for possible emergencies), would have had us living way beyond our means. Being pre-approved expedited our purchase process, but I am so glad we weren't looking at homes at the high-end of our approved amount.
- Don't be afraid to walk away if the price isn't right. We were able to negotiate our price down to a red hot steal because we stuck to our "best and final" and were comfortable walking away, certain there would be other great homes on the market. Truth be told.....I haven't seen another home in our school district, in our home's condition, and at our price point, since, however, that confidence did give us the result we were looking for!
- Have a list of "must-haves" - but don't be too picky. We were crystal clear on the area in which we wanted to live, the minimum square footage we needed, and the price we were willing to pay, but beyond that, we had an open mind. We would've preferred a new home, but our completely renovated 1950s home is perfect. We both love 2-story homes, but the open floor plan of our ranch feels so clean and spacious. Wants and needs are very different, and be sure to understand which of your wants are realistic for your budget.
- If it's your first home purchase, bring along a trusted advisor. Once we knew we were seriously interested in our home, we brought along my brother (with significant contracting experience), my dad and my father-in-law (both with significant home-owning experience). They thought to look for things we would never have considered - is the foundation solid, what's up with the furnace, how does the attic look, etc. - and their vote of approval increased our certainty in the quality of our home.
- Request quotes on mortgage rates from multiple companies. We were able to achieve a low rate by having two lenders compete against each other.
Those are just a few tips from my limited home purchasing experience - I could certainly go on and on about the minutiae of our experience but I will save that for another day! Until then, we will spend the weekend feeling extremely grateful for the beautiful home we are able to call our own.
Any homeowners out there with more or better tips? Any home shoppers out there with questions?