Curious about what it’s like buying your first home? Well, I enlisted the help of my good friend Lindsey (who blogs over at Alta Mira Horsemanship) to walk us through the process.
As you all know, I’ve partnered with Homie to help get as many people as possible into the homes of their dreams while saving them insane amounts of money. The average Homie user saves $10,000!
While my husband and I are currently saving up money to get our own home, we aren’t quite there yet. So I wanted you to receive first hand information from a trusted source (and a very talented writer). So let’s dive in!
Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Homie. All opinions and information are our own.
Buying Your First Home
“Oh, I love how open this layout is.” “I could entertain all our friends in this kitchen.” “There’s so much natural light.” My husband and I used to joke as we waited for these three phrases in just about every House Hunters episode. We loved weighing the pros and cons of every house and trying to guess which house the prospective owners would choose in each episode.
While I can binge HGTV all day if left unsupervised, the television version of home buying is much more cut and dry than the reality of seemingly endless paperwork, negotiations, and the laundry list of steps in the mortgage approval process. Not to mention the sacrifices you have to make to save up money for a down payment, closing costs, and the essential appliances that are not guaranteed with any home purchase.
My husband and I have been married for nearly four years now, and we just bought our first home this year. Having lived in the Seattle area for over a decade, we watched the housing market climb nearly out of our reach. Meanwhile, our rent skyrocketed disproportionately to our income. Our mellow suburb had boomed to the point that we were soon to be completely priced out of even the roughest parts of town.
The Dream of A Place of Our Own
While we knew that we wanted to become homeowners within the next few years, we hadn’t been able to save all that much money. We were living right at the edge of our take-home pay after rent, utilities, and basic expenses. Needless to say, the sudden rent hikes got our attention and quickly.
We moved in with family for six months and saved the majority of our income during that period. We spared extravagances like Christmas and instead cherished this goal of having a home that wouldn’t increase in price every year, all while investing in our future instead of someone else’s.
This season of saving taught us a lot about financial discipline. The reward was to finally start hunting for our new home. Something that we found to be true from all the HGTV shows is the wonder and excitement of venturing into the home buying process. The potential of finding your future home makes each and every house a delightful surprise. As we saw different homes, we got a better feel for what was most important to us in a home. Finally, we found the Goldilocks house that met our highest priorities but was also well within our budget.
What the house hunting shows don’t show you, however, are the nuances of the real estate process–some good, some bad, and some unexpected.
Behind the Scenes of Buying Your First House
The Good: As a first time home buyer, you are not responsible for paying the real estate agent(s). Their fee typically comes from the seller of the house, who is likely making a profit exponentially greater. This means that you can pick whatever realtor you’d like, and they’ll do their darndest to find you the home of your dreams. They are also on call most of the time to answer your questions and negotiate on your behalf. Our realtors were helping us anywhere from seven in the morning to ten at night.
With Homie: If Lindsey had access to Homie, she could have had an entire team dedicated to helping her find the right home! Homie doesn’t charge buyers anything to buy with them.
In fact, Homie rewards up to $5,000 to people who buy with them to cover closing costs. If you buy a home listed with Homie, the seller doesn’t have to pay a large Buyer Agent Commission. This makes your offer look even more attractive!
The Bad: Throughout the negotiation and escrow process, everyone is looking out for their own interests. This means that you have to as well. While I’d love to say that our realtors and loan officers always had our best interests at heart, it simply wasn’t always the case. We had to do our research and reach out to friends in the field to make sure we were getting the correct advice on our contract.
We were ill-advised on a couple of contractual nuances that could have gotten us into trouble. Realtors may also want to arrange your closing date as soon as possible (typically 30 days), but you have every right to ask for an extra couple of weeks to make sure you meet all the requirements of the loan officer within your closing time frame. We went with a 40-day close, but given the opportunity, we would have done 45 days for some breathing room. The lender is also protecting themself by doing thorough research on the house and your financial fitness, which can take several weeks.
With Homie: Homie was created to put more power in your hands while taking less money out of your pocket. With Homie, you have an entire team in your corner. You have access to licensed real estate agents and attorneys. They are there to help you every step of the way.
Homie will help you read through legal documents, craft a winning bid on your dream home, and answer any questions along the way. You get a dedicated showing agent that takes you to see whichever homes you’re interested in. You also get a buyer’s agent who will help with offers, negotiations, paperwork, and closing.
Homie is all about taking off the pressure that you encounter with typical realtors. They don’t want you to feel rushed or coerced into finding the perfect home!
The Unexpected: When we were searching for our home, my husband and I had just relocated to a new state only a few months prior. We didn’t know the area well, so we did a lot of research. I knew from apartment hunting to look for information about crime rates, but I discovered other areas to research as well: commute distance, homeowner’s association, tax rates, sex offender registry (if there are multiple at a nearby address, it’s probably an apartment complex that is sex-offender friendly and will continue to provide housing to them for years to come), and the caliber of the school district.
We were glad we did a closing period of more than 30 days because everything takes about a week. The initial negotiation, inspection, appraisal, and credit checks each took at least one week to execute. Many of these steps were contingent on another, so we could not expedite much by doing certain steps simultaneously.
We also had a few financial surprises. Our lender, in particular, was extremely thorough in their credit checks. We weren’t aware until the end of the process that we needed to pay off our credit debt. While we had the funds to cover it immediately, not knowing required us to wait another week to verify with the bank that they were paid in full.
What also came as confusing were the different forms of insurance and fees required in the purchase and lending process. In order to purchase a home, you need to find and sign up for homeowner’s insurance, which may or may not be incorporated into your mortgage payment. Your lender may also require private mortgage insurance (or PMI), which will drive your monthly payment up by $100-200 until you owe less than 80% of the home’s value. We decided to go with a house 125 thousand dollars less than what we prequalified for, which ended up saving our budget with all of the insurances and taxes that went into our monthly payment.
With Homie: Homie gives you an online portal that connects you with your team. So many of their glowing reviews talk about the transparency of the entire process. So while I can’t promise there won’t be hiccups or bumps in the road, I can promise that Homie has your back. They will do everything in their power to make this process smooth and simple!
Home at Last
Now instead of being the girl who watches HGTV for fun, I’m now the one turning the garage upside down with DIY pallet projects and salvaged gems that I may one day repurpose.
We talk about things that we dream to fix up one day, but we’re in no rush to. My husband and I are two working-class individuals who just want to live within our means. We have never been the people who want the whole pie, we just want a modest slice to call our own. And while the process was stressful at times, we couldn’t be more grateful that we were able to purchase a home this year.
The fulfillment of waking up in a home of your own is something that I hope for on behalf of everyone who wants to take this next step in their future. If you are dreaming of owning a home of your own, these are the two things I’d recommend:
Save as much money as you can right now. You may have to live with family, defer a few vacations, cut expenses from your daily life, or take up a side hustle. But these are temporary sacrifices that will pay you off in spades in the future.
Get all the information that you possibly can. Find transparent resources that can provide you with all the facts so that you can make your most informed decision when the time comes.
When I found out about Homie, I was so amazed to see a company that helps prospective homeowners in both of these areas. Homie has an abundance of transparent information about the home buying process that has your best interest at heart.
Furthermore, their Buyer Refund and potential savings through Homie Loans could put several thousand back into your pocket at the time of purchase. Those additional funds make a world of a difference when settling into your new home, whether you need appliances and furniture or some back-up savings for the rainy days of homeownership.
It may seem like house prices are farther out of reach than ever before, but be encouraged. There are also unprecedented resources out there in today’s world, such as Homie. If homeownership is your dream, don’t wait. Start saving today. Start researching today. Take these small steps, and hold onto the dream. Before you know it, you’ll be in a position to find that perfect house that’s open and has all the natural light you can ask for.
I’m so grateful to Lindsey for helping me with this and I hope it was helpful to get an inside look at home buying.
Tell me: have you bought a home recently? Was there anything we missed in this post? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the comments.
About The Author
Lindsey is a freelance Copywriter, Pinterest Marketer, and creator of the equine blog, Alta Mira Horsemanship. With 25 years’ experience in the horse world, Lindsey writes articles most often about partnership-based horse training methods and equestrian mental health. When she’s not working or riding horses, you can find her exploring coffee shops with her husband in northern Idaho, where they reside.