Over the past few years, I have learned a lot about homeownership. A few years ago, we built our home. I have also worked for realtors, and I have been able to learn so much more about what the full home-buying process looks like.
Now is an excellent time to buy a new home. The interest rates are at the lowest they have been in many years. And homes are staying on the market a little longer, so you have a better chance to find your dream home.
Tips For New Home Buyers
Our home-buying journey:
We lived in Mexico for 12 years. During that time, we did not own a home. We had actually bought a house when we were just 23 years old and sold it 18 months later when we moved. So it had been a while since we had even considered owning another home.
We did a ton of research. We knew there was the option to live close to my husband’s office, but we also knew that the way they have the schools set up in Louisville, Kentucky was a little wonky. (Basically, you have a cluster of schools you COULD send your kids to, and you have to apply. All your kids could be in different schools.)
I wanted my kids to go to school and be on the same bus as the kids in our neighborhood. So the first decision we had to make was to compare the pros and cons of my husband’s commute and our kid’s education.
The schools in our county helped make that decision. We love our school system and the teachers and love that all our kids can go through the same schools, and they are getting the best education we can help provide for them.
Tip #1: Decide the location
This will help you decide if you can even afford to own a home in the neighborhood that is connected to the schools that you want your kids to attend. The prices in the county we wanted to live in were a little higher than what we would have paid in the other country, but we decided that there were other things in our budget we could work around to make this happen.
Tip #2: Get Preapproved For Your Mortgage
This could be the difference between getting your dream home and losing it to another home buyer. First, it tells you what you can afford. You don’t want to overextend yourself on your mortgage. Yes, your home will be your greatest investment, but if you can’t afford the monthly payments, it’s not worth it.
Back in 1999, we started the home buying process. We were young and had student loans and credit card debt, but we knew that we wanted to stop paying rent and own our own home.
We got all the paperwork together, and they said we were approved for $83,000. That was enough to get a house in the area we wanted but as we started to look – it was very disappointing. The houses were old. Some of them still had shag carpet, and others had pebbles for a yard and not grass.
Finally, we went to the last house of the day, and it was perfect. It has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a backyard. It was all we needed. It was super close to our jobs and in a safe and quiet neighborhood. The house had new carpet and paint – so it was move-in ready.
But we looked at the list of people that had looked at the house, and after just 24 hours on the market, it had several offers. But they accepted our offer because we had a pre-approval letter for the full listing price of the house.
Tip #3 – Build vs. Buy an Existing Home
This has so many variables. If there isn’t any new construction in the area, you are forced to look at an existing home. But existing homes can be so beautiful, and with a little work, they can be transformed into your dream home. Plus, when you build a home – the journey is a lot longer because you need to wait for them to construct the house.
Find a good realtor to help you find homes in your price range in a neighborhood you want to live in. They will have so much knowledge about the area that you will find helpful.
In the end, we built our home and lived in an apartment for 7 months. It wasn’t ideal, but we love our house, and my husband’s commute isn’t that bad.