If buying a home is something you’d want to do in the future, make sure you understand what you’re getting into. You can prepare and do your own research by reading online articles (like this one), listening to podcasts, talking to others who’ve been through it. However, you don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s okay. There are things you wouldn’t be able to learn until you’ve been through the home buying process.
Here are 3 things I learned after buying my first home:
The team you work with will have a big effect on your home buying experience.
If you’ve been following my first-time home buying experience, then you’d know that I had an awesome team working with me. It’s important that everyone on the team is honest and are experts in their domain. As a first-time homebuyer, you’ll probably have almost no idea what you’re doing and you’d be relying on your team to break down the process with you each step of the way.
The most important person to find is the realtor. He (or she) is the point person when it comes to knowing the market and giving you suggestions on areas and properties that meet your preferences. Luckily for me, I already had a realtor in mind that I wanted to work with. It was a great decision because he was able to recommend a loan consultant that went above and beyond what I expected.
From beginning to end, my first-time home buying experience was definitely stressful. I mean, it should be since there are hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. However, it would’ve been way more stressful if the team I had behind me were only average at what they do.
Affordability is relative.
When you speak with people that deal with numbers all day, it’s easy for them to do some calculations with your income and debt and tell you what you can afford. Sure, that makes sense on paper, but you have to understand that affordability is relative. Just because you could afford something, it doesn’t mean you should purchase it.
You have to understand that it’s your money that’s on the line. That means you should only spend what you feel comfortable with. Even if the numbers say you could afford up to X dollars, you might have to lower it if you take into account other factors. Maybe you are expecting a newborn and would like to have money for childcare. Maybe you still want to be able to go on yearly vacations. You need to know what your goals are even after the house purchase to make an informed decision on how much you can afford.
Everything costs more than you think.
When you’re house hunting, you’re going through a bunch of listing flyers with professional photos and big, bold prices. You’d expect that the listing price is what you’d end up paying for the house, right?
Home buying isn’t the same as walking into a department store and buying an item for the listed price. Bid wars could occur and other fees would most likely incur if you end up finalizing a deal.
When you fall in love with a house, chances are you’re not the only one in love with it. There could be a few other prospective buyers who are ready to pounce on the opportunity to make an offer, and that’s where a bidding war happens. This ends up taking the final price higher than the asking price.
There are also expenses and fees that you should take into account as well when it comes to affordability. Obviously, you’d have to pay the closing costs (X% of your offer) if your offer is accepted. Other fees and expenses you should keep in mind when thinking about affordability are:
- Remodeling material and labor costs
- HOA fees (if applicable)
- Miscellaneous things that come up
The list goes on. Personally, I took into account the utilities, HOA fees, and taxes when I was planning to purchase, but the things that came out of nowhere were the furniture, remodeling, and miscellaneous expenses. These “out of nowhere” expenses served as a reminder that things don’t always go as planned, and you must have backup funds for unexpected costs.