Buying your first home can be an exciting, scary and an overwhelming process. I remember my first home purchase. I was newly married and excited about the prospect of not renting. We made a lot of mistakes but also learned valuable lessons. In an effort to find a house we thought would be great and spacious, we broke the number one rule.
Rule #1 Location, Location, Location.
In our infinite wisdom we decided that having our house back up to the freeway and across from the airport couldn’t be that bad, right? WRONG! Not once did we use our backyard and our front yard was not much better. Aside from the fact that we didn’t use the majority of our property, we had a tough sell when we moved two years later.
Rule #2 Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
The house wasn’t in terrible shape when we purchased, but we soon began updating. Being well experienced carpenters (not) we dug right in. Ripping out the bathroom and taking a quick one hour course at Home Depot we felt we were ready to take on tiling. This project was the first of many. Needless to say, this led to a lot more home improvement projects over the years. I am not saying your first home shouldn’t be a fixer upper or need a little updating, but take into account your level of experience and the time and money it takes to complete a project. I have always found that you should come up with a time table and a budget and then double it and you will be in the ballpark. When we chose to undertake this project, my husband was attending full time school while working full time and I worked full time while caring for a new baby. Can you say overload!
Rule #3 Stay on budget.
We actually did something right our first time (applause please.) When looking for our first house we knew that the amount of the mortgage needed to stay in a certain range. Our starter house was located on the Boise bench and costed (drum roll please) $79,000. Imagine spending that today with these interest rates. At the time interest rates were in the mid 7’s so that put our payment in a comfortable $720 range. We could have spent more, but knew this was where we needed to land to save the money for the improvements. I am sure you have heard the saying that you are “house poor”. I assure you this is a thing. When at the end of the month you have enough to pay your mortgage, fuel, food and little else, you are house poor. Give yourself some cushion so that you can travel or buy a new pair of shoes once in awhile.
Rule #4 Work with knowledgeable professionals
There are several mortgage programs that can help you realize your homeowner dreams. FHA offers low down payment options although mortgage insurance is required depending on how much you borrow. The VA has a zero down program for those that qualify and Idaho Housing has some great options as well. Make sure that you have a great lender that is willing to explain all the fees and any penalties you make incur if for instance you need to sell sooner that anticipated. Working with good people will help the process go smoother and can help you avoid headaches.
Rule #5 Be realistic.
When buying your first home you may want to try and get everything you want in this purchase. The fact is most homeowners sell their first home and move up in as little as 11 years, sometimes less. If you are newly married with no kids, you may not need a five bedroom house (talking to myself here.) Look at your lifestyle and think about what matters most. If you have kids that will be going to school soon then a great school district may be the most important thing to you. If you are single and like hanging with the ladies or gents maybe a downtown condo is more your style. Just think about where you are now and where you intend to be in the next few years so that your new home is someplace you love.
Hopefully this helps you think about a few more things that you hadn’t considered and that you can learn from my mistakes. I would love to help you find your first home and guide you through the process. Give a call 208-695-0524.