So, I’ve officially been in my house about a year now! Looking back, the whole home buying process is pretty overwhelming, but I can definitely romanticize it now that it’s in the past. During, however, it is tedious and annoying, but once you find THE house, it doesn’t seem so bad.
Set a budget and stick to it. Your bank will give you a max and I recommend looking at houses slightly under that, because extra things will come up. It’s important to make sure you can handle the monthly expenses for the house itself and your utilities. It sucks, but you don’t want to fall in love with a house that is out of your budget.
Come up with your top 5 things a house HAS to have. Mine were attached garage (I didn’t want to , brick (tends to hold value longer), basement (extra space, woo!), at least 3 bedrooms (bedroom, spare bedroom, and office) , and a ranch (no stairs for my pups). Things that were nice but we’d do ourselves if necessary were a fenced in yard and hardwood floors throughout.
Make sure the house is in a good area. You don’t want to be in the sketch part of town. You want to feel safe at home. Make sure the school zone you’re in is good, too. This might not seem important when you don’t have kids at the moment or don’t plan to while in that house, but it’s very important for reselling. I had SO many cute houses that I had to pass on because they weren’t in a good school zone. It sucks, but keep looking!
Get a great Realtor. I lucked out because I come from a family of Realtors. My grandma, dad, and aunt are/were all Re/Max Realtors. My grandma and dad were both tremendous in helping me and being honest with the houses. My dad wanted me to buy a home that I would make money one when I resold it. We planned to redo quite a bit of the inside and/or outside of whichever house I got to increase the value and make it nicer. Realtors do this all the time and can help you throughout the process. They can tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly about the house you’re looking at. Trust me, especially for the first time, get a Realtor you can rely on for buying a home. Realtors get a lot of their customers from word-of-mouth referrals, so ask around and see if any names get repeated. If you’re in the Peoria-area and need a Realtor, seriously call my dad, Ric Krupps, at 309-208-8579. He continually goes above and beyond and he rarely stops working. Sometimes it’s annoying as a family member, but I still appreciate his dedication to his work.
Check for grants for first time home buyers. If you have a Realtor, they’ll do this for you. A lot of places have grants in place to encourage buying homes. Mine had the requirements that it was in a Peoria zip code and was vacant at the time of purchase. I also have to live in the house a few years and have it in my name for five. So if I find a different house after the 3 years, I’m just going to rent it out in the mean time.
Be patient. I started the search for my house in May 2014 and closed on Halloween of that year. Long time! I perused the different home buying apps all the time searching for new listings. It truly is a waiting game. Checking frequently will ensure you can act quickly if you do spot a home that fits your criteria.
Don’t feel like it needs to be completely decorated as soon as you move in. If it’s your first house, you will probably be buying a lot of furniture for it, or at least some. It bothered me so much to have a half-decorated house, but doing it slowly is the way to go. You can find better pieces at better prices if you hold out for things you love. It takes time to fully decorate.
Now what’s funny, is I got such a great deal on my house that I actually broke my top 5 things. It was half of what the bank told me my max was, so I wavered a bit there. My house is not brick and there is no basement, sadly. But I got a steal on this house, so it’s okay. My next house will for sure have a basement, though. And the closing, I swear I’ve never written my name so many times in my life. You’ll sign your signature about 1,389 times… or at least it feels that way. Anyways, I hope this was helpful! Please comment if you have any questions and I’d love to hear YOUR tips for purchasing a house for the first time!