As first-time home buyers, we did a lot of things right. From learning about and getting a 15-year mortgage and making extra payments to buying a home with a price well below the amount of loan that we were approved for, we made some good decisions throughout the home-buying process. However, there were numerous mistakes too. And there are certain things that I wish we’d done differently as first-time home buyers.
Step back from the process
Sometimes the process of looking at homes and the excitement and dreaming that comes along with it can put you into a home-buying trance of sorts. You get so wrapped up in just finding a house that you kind of forget it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.
This is what happened to us with our first home-buying experience. We got so caught up in the process, that rather than step back, take a breather, and remember that there are other fish in the sea so to speak, we pressed on and ended up selecting a home that wasn’t right for us.
Rent a home first
While it might have cost us more than renting an apartment, renting a home before buying would have saved us money compared to what we lost on our first home.
Moving from renting a small apartment to owning a single-family home can be a big step, and there can be numerous differences involved in the two types of living situations. Holding a mortgage, higher utility costs, all the maintenance and repairs as well as their costs, property taxes, and more can mean that there is a steep learning curve involved in the transition from apartment life to owning a home. I think that if we had rented a home first, we would have gotten a better taste of what homeownership is like before committing to the actual responsibilities of the title of “homeowner”.
Not listen to other people
While I found it important to listen to the stories and input of other homeowners, where we failed in the respect of listening to others was in letting them influence they type of home we bought. It’s important to bear in mind that while outside advice and be helpful, we were the ones who would be living in the home, and that it was our priorities, our wants, and our needs that we should have been focusing on, not what other people found important in a home. Due to the input of others, we ended up letting ourselves be talked out of several locations that might have worked well for us. It was an important lesson that we needed to listen to ourselves first and foremost when it came to the home-buying process.
Explored more areas
We had all of the Chicagoland area to look for our home, but we stuck with what we knew and had experienced rather than venturing outside our comfort zone. While there can certainly be benefits to buying property in a place you know, it can also limit buying options and available inventory.
Had we expanded our search area, we might not only have found a home more fitting to our needs but a better location as well, since the neighborhood we selected was not conducive to our family needs and idea of entertainment.
So while home-buying at any age can be an adventure of sorts, had we to do it over again, I definitely think we’d have conducted our first-time buyer experience differently, and potentially saved ourselves a lot of money in the process.
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The author is not a licensed financial, mortgage or real estate professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.