I cannot believe my Husband and I have lived in our first home for two months now! It has very slowly crept up on me that feeling of permanence. I can finally paint the walls, mow my yard, and run around naked if I wanted to! But getting to this place of home-ownership was no walk in the park. It was filled with frustration, a lot of tears and hot baths to calm my anxiety. Our journey to home-ownership started in January of 2017. I was begging my husband to go to a First Time Home Buyers class so we could learn about purchasing our first home. It seemed like an unreachable goal at the time, but after the two classes, it seemed completely doable! We started saving immediately and got into contact with a Mortgage Loan Officer that our friends recommended to us. We talked about where we were at financially, the probability of buying a home within the year, and the steps we needed to take before starting to look for a home. The biggest rift was getting credit under my name. I had never owned a credit card, and it was crucial that I were to have credit other than paying my bills on time.
We took immediate priority to get some credit under my name so we could get pre-approved for a house loan. Every single card I applied for was denied because of 'lack of credit,' and I was starting to get very frustrated. How was I to start building credit if nobody would allow me to get a credit card in the first place?? Luckily, my husband had the idea of putting me on his Amazon card just to see if by chance it would build me credit. We didn't know if it had worked until I went to my local bank to open a card and they told me I had excellent credit. I was so shocked!!! From that point on, I used my credit card to buy gas for my car and that was it. I have found it has been the safest way for me to use my credit card, build my credit and keep it in good shape while in the process of purchasing our first home.
After a few months of saving and building my credit, we sent in the paperwork to our Loan Officer to find out how much house we could afford. I had been doing some calculations on my own and I knew that it wouldn't be very much at all. I'm not going to go too much into our financial status, but we did not make enough money for the house I thought we'd be able to afford and it was SO discouraging. I had fully prepared myself to have to stop the entire process all together until we could afford something better than a 700 square foot one bed one bath house. We eventually got the email of our loan cap, and it was $20,000 more than we had expected! I was beyond excited that our range was more than we had initially anticipated. In the housing market, twenty-thousand can I make a huge difference.
I would definitely recommend not looking at any houses until you have gotten your loan cap. It would have saved me from so much frustration and disappointment early on. Especially with how the housing market is right now; Houses are flying in and out of the market. So, by the time you have see a house on something like Zillow or Realtor, they will be gone within a few days.
One of the biggest things my husband and I discussed almost constantly was what we were looking for in a home. It always stayed pretty close to our very first ideas, but here is the list we ended up going with when we finally started the actual house hunting process.
- Two Bed, One Bath (bonus points if there were two bathrooms)
- Unfinished Basement (absolutely had to be livable, but it was okay if it was finished or partially finished)
- Hardwood Floors
- Large-ish Bathtub (I was so sick of teeny tiny apartment tubs)
- Fenced Backyard for our dog
- Garage (bonus points if it was attached)
- Good neighborhood
- Absolutely no main streets (for our dog's and future children's sakes)
- Some appliances included
- Larger than 1100 Square Feet
- Within a 10-Minute drive of our best friends' house (our commute to their house before was 30 minutes and I did not want to have to drive that long so late at night anymore... plus I love my little Niece too much :3 )
My Husband and I decided that at the end of May/Beginning of June was when we would start looking at houses. This was in part with our Apartment lease ending in August. It would give us plenty of time to pack in case we found a house we loved right off the bat. We met with a friend's mother, who is a Realtor, and she started sending us listings that matched the majority of our requirements. The first house was super cute, had a perfect yard, but had the sketchiest neighbors. I am very thankful that my father-in-law was with us while we looked at houses because there were so many things I didn't think of that he made us aware of. Like creaky floors, bad roofs, scary neighbors and a plethora of other faults.
After about 4 houses we had seen, we found one we really liked. It was on a main street (which we had sworn we wouldn't live on one) but it was perfect! It had everything we wanted in a house and decided to put in an offer. At first, our offer was accepted and we were ecstatic! Until they wanted us to wave the inspection and up the price. That set of all of the red flags and we ended up dropping the offer.
We looked at a few more houses and were more disappointed each house we saw afterwords. They were smaller than our apartment, or falling apart, or had a drug house across the street. I was tired of looking at houses, finding things that were very wrong with them and having to start over again.
The next 4 houses we put offers on, were always second in line. We were always out-bid by conventional loans or full cash offers and it was SO frustrating. It felt like we were never going to find a house that we loved and our offer being accepted with the loan choice we were going with. It got to the point where I didn't even want to look at houses anymore, because I knew that our offer would be out-bid. The housing market was absolutely insane. A house would go up on the market and have 15 offers within the first hour of the listing being up. People were bidding on houses before ever seeing them, and the sellers would get what they want. It makes my head hurt thinking about the housing market this year. My anxiety started getting worse because two months had passed and our lease was up. Thankfully, our apartment complex allowed month-to-month leases for $100 more a month. I hated having to pay more while we were still trying to save as much as we could for a house, but it was worth it in the end.
One Sunday at the end of July, we made an appointment to see a house that we kind of liked. It wasn't our favorite, but it also wasn't the worst we had seen. We drove across the city, thinking we would leave disappointed and preparing ourselves for more house hunting. It was in a fairly quiet neighborhood, lots of old people around but close to supermarkets and parks. We walked into the house and were pleasantly surprised. It was a cute little house with an unfinished basement, two bedrooms upstairs and a funky bathroom. A detached garage that was very close to the house and a huge backyard! The icing on the cake was that all the appliances were included, which was absolutely unheard of in this market. We decided while we were at the house that we wanted to put in an offer and go for it. Our Realtor had sent the offer to sign almost immediately, and the forms were in my email before we got to our apartment. After two hours of submitting, the seller had verbally accepted our offer. Before the end of the day, they had signed the papers for our offer. I was screaming inside, but still hesitant because the inspection was next.
If anything comes up in the inspection that doesn't pass FHA loan regulation, the seller could drop our offer and take the next best offer. In a seller's market, the seller literally gets everything they want, and they don't have to fix anything if it's not mandatory safety-wise. Luckily, our inspection went very well and there were only a couple things that needed to be fixed. The seller fixed every single one of them and some extra that we didn't ask for. I am so thankful that the seller of the house was a decent and kind person, because if he hadn't been, we probably wouldn't be living in a house just yet.
Our closing date was about a month and a half away, and we were literally packing until the day we moved in. It was stressful because I was traveling every other week during the packing process. I also had no idea how much stuff my husband and I had accumulated over the 4 years we have lived together. The move-in day flowed so smoothly. We rented a 15-footer Uhaul truck to hopefully get everything moved out in one trip. My brother, my Uncle and my Brother-in-law helped us move everything out and into the Uhaul. Huge props to them as they literally tetris'd our entire apartment into that Uhaul. A few of our friends met us at the house and helped unload the truck. The entire process only took 4 hours! Go team!!! We seriously could not have done it without everyone who helped <3
It has taken an entire month to get completely settled, even though we still have boxes in our basement, and it didn't fully hit me until I had a day off where I cleaned my kitchen. It was the most frustrating experience of this year, but it was completely worth all of it. I never thought in a million years that I would own a house at the age of 25.
This is all for now my lovelies!