Our First House Reveal + My Top 3 Takeaways From Our First-Time Home Buying Experience
If you’ve been following me for the past year, you know that Hunter (the hubby) and I recently bought our first home… and SURPRISE! Today, I’m finally revealing a full look at our new place, an update on our renovations, and the steps we took to get into our very first house. Continue reading for my Top 3 Takeaways From Our First-Time Home Buying Experience!
We’re currently updating and renovating our new home, and while painting and decorating has been my favorite part (no surprise!), there were definitely some parts of our home buying journey that were not as glamorous. I know buying a home can seem scary and confusing—especially for first-time home buyers like myself—which is why I wanted to spread the knowledge I learned along the way. Luckily for me, Hunter is an experienced real estate agent who could help me understand the ins and outs of the home buying process, but for those of you not married to a real estate agent, I’ve partnered with Bank of America to share their tools and resources that can help you make informed and smart decisions on your path to home ownership.
So, let’s start at the beginning… Step one of buying our new home was preparing our finances to have a clear understanding of what we could afford. Mapping out all of the costs that go into buying and owning a home and setting a realistic budget will help you determine your price range at the start, avoiding frustration later down the road.
Figuring out what you afford can be tricky, but there are a lot of online resources to help you create and stick to a budget. T I P: You can use a free home affordability calculator on Bank of America’s Home Resource Center to determine how much home you can comfortably afford!
Next, after Hunter and I determined what our budget was and got in touch with a mortgage lender, we came to two possible options:
- Purchase an already updated home within our budget while possibly compromising on a few items on our “must-have” list.
- Purchase a “fixer-upper” under our budget that met our entire “must-have” list, then update it ourselves.
We went back and forth on which option was best but firmly believed that doing a fixer upper for our first home would be way too much. So, we began looking for a house that was within budget, fairly updated, a backyard and large kitchen. Not too much to ask for, right?
After touring what seemed like hundreds of houses, we found a few we liked and checked most of our boxes. However, they were at the very top of our budgets. Even then, there were also still a few of things we wanted to change within those homes. We soon realized that updating those houses at the top of our budget would stretch us past what we could afford.
We felt overwhelmed but hopeful that switching gears to option 2 may be better after all in order to stay within budget.
One morning, I got a listing alert for a home that had just hit the market overnight. I quickly glanced at the photos and specs and immediately texted Hunter, “Schedule a showing for this house NOW. This won’t last long and we need to go see it and offer TODAY!” Thankfully, the sellers were only interested in selling to a family who would love their home as much as they did since building the home in 1968. After writing a letter to them, the sellers chose to sell to us over multiple other offers!
As you glance through the listing photos of our house, you’ll see it needed a lot of TLC, but now that we’re in the thick of remodeling, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We didn’t know for sure if we could handle the full remodel, but we’ve enjoyed putting in so much hard work into our dream first home.
Let’s just say we’re on a journey of becoming TV’S newest fixer upper couple!
It’s been a long journey, but we’re in the home stretch now. I can’t wait to reveal the fully remodeled home when we finish this Fall! But for now, here’s a sneak peek at my favorite renovations so far and my top 3 takeaways from our first-time home buying experience!
My Top 3 First-Time Home Buying Tips:
- #1 – Find trusted educational resources that will help determine what home and financing solution is right for you! Bank of America has a ton of educational content readily available online via Better Money Habits and their First-Time Home Buyer Online Edu-Series provides a step-by-step roadmap to buying a home.
- #2 – Find a real estate agent that is knowledgeable, experienced and has your best interest at heart. It’s okay to be a little picky when it comes to who you choose to help find you your very first home-it’s a major life decision! Trust is absolutely key in order to confidently navigate the process.
- #3 – Consider all your down payment options – (Yes, there’s more than one!) Something I didn’t know when I entered my home search is that there are a variety of state, local and private programs that you may quality for that can help with the down payment and upfront costs of buying a home. For example, Bank of America’s Community Homeownership Commitment® program includes two home buyer grant programs to help prospective buyers with the upfront costs of homeownership – no repayment necessary. A huge reason as to why I partnered with Bank of America is because they have some of the most generous grant programs in the industry, offering up to $17,500 in combined down payment and closing costs grants. Visit bankofamerica.com/homeowner to learn more.
If you’re curious on how to start looking for down payment solutions, you can easily search for programs in your area that you qualify for at the Bank of America Down Payment Center. Under “Find a program,” select the state to learn which programs are available there.
Home Renovation Sneak Peeks:
This entire process has been nothing short of crazy, but now it feels so incredibly rewarding to finally have a place that we can call our own. In my experience, the feeling of having your own place outweighs any challenges we faced along the way.
Happy house shopping,