A Place to Call Home: Get Started

start the process to buy a home as a first time home buyer

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In case you missed the news, Mack and I purchased our first home! It is such a crazy feeling to be an actual homeowner. I talked about our home search here and how I don’t feel old enough to be a homeowner but now I am one so where does that leave me? I am just kidding haha. We are in love with our new home and the ability to make it our own, create memories, and are thankful to have a safe place to lay our heads at night. We know it is such a blessing to be able to purchase a home and we are grateful to no end!

Throughout our search however, I spent more time on the phone with my parents than usual (and I talk to them A LOT). The increased communication was mostly due to questions that I had because I felt like there was not a ton of information out there for first time homebuyers and what to expect (if you google, you will get uninteresting articles filled with real estate jargon). I imagined this dream/movie-like situation where you sign one golden page and you are handed a key. Little did I know there is SO MUCH MORE that goes into home buying. So, I wanted to share our experience from start to finish to hopefully shed some light and advice on how tackle purchasing a home. Here is how we started the search for our perfect home:

Online Search

Once Mack and I found out we would be moving to Florida’s Emerald Coast, we knew that we wanted to invest in property. Que endless hours of online searching and looking at homes, the photos and the price tags to gather information that started our search. We looked online for about a year before we even moved here. That’s right, A YEAR of online searching alone. Did I mention that I am the most particular person ever?

Once arriving in Florida we decided to rent because we were opposed to purchasing a home before actually living in the area. This sounds like simple and obvious advice but just in case you are moving to a new area, I would honestly recommend at least six months of living there before purchasing. I promise you, this time of renting gave us the knowledge of where we wanted to be and where we definitely did not want to be. We found the areas we loved, wanted to spend our time and invest this sum of money into a place to call our own. I am so thankful for those that recommended we be patient throughout this process. Best advice we ever got!

The Pre-Approval Process

Once we identified the specific location of where we wanted to start looking, we completed the pre-approval process next. We had an idea of what we wanted to spend in total on a mortgage each month based on our monthly budgets. This was a source of anxiety for me because I wanted to make sure we didn’t go over the established amount which would allow us to keep living as normal– to feel overextended by our mortgage was a fear of mine. However, in talking to the bank, Mack named the monthly amount and based on that amount coupled with employment/income information, the bank named our price. This was especially important and helped our search because I was really strict and *tried* not to look at anything over our price range. You all know how it goes when you see what you can’t have… you want it more. Avoid the unnecessary wasted energy and stick to searching within your price range! To get your pre-approval, simply call your bank and ask to speak with someone who can help you with a home loan. They will ask you a number of questions that will allow them to generate your pre-approval amount. Easy as that! They will then send you an official letter stating that amount that you can send to your realtor and potential lenders later on.

Create the Wish List

Mack and I are always watching HDTV… it’s one of the few channels we can agree on haha! Have you noticed in every single home hunting or renovation show the couple featured has a wish list? This is important to define what you want and of course discuss with your spouse to ensure you’re on the same page. Ours included the following; two bedrooms, at least two baths, an outdoor space for the doggies and some sort of water view. Determine what’s important to you and stick with it!

Hire a Realtor

Much like my advice on hiring a wedding planner, I believe you need to enlist the help of someone who knows the ropes! And trust me, the real estate ropes can get very tangled so I was thankful for our realtor. I think it’s very important to shop around and find someone you trust. Our experience with some, solely in communication, felt very pressured at all times. Things like, “you need to act today to see this place or else you’ll lose it,” would often pop up in emails from a person we had never met. Honestly, I got annoyed and found a new realtor who I felt had our best interests at heart. I hate to be pressured or feel rushed, especially when making a huge decision so I knew it would be best for us to find a better fit. And we did! Our realtor was so patient! She answered every one of our questions throughout the entire process and I promise you, we asked a million. If you are searching for a home in the Emerald Coast area and need a realtor, email me and I will forward her contact information along. We loved her!

Once you complete all of these items (which I am not kidding, it took Mack and I over a year in total to do all of this), you can start to hand pick homes to view. I’ll share my specific advice on viewing homes next Monday! In the meantime, post any questions you may have in the comment section or email me. I’d love to help you and hear your experiences in the first phase of finding your dream home!

Thank you so much for stopping by today!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Mark October 3, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Taking your time, being patient, defining your wants/needs and then determining and sticking to your comfortable budget. Amazing maturity for such a young couple starting out. I know your parents must be so proud!

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