If you weren't sick of hearing about my birthday, now you'll be sick of hearing about the new house we bought! Sorry, but I just. can't. stop. talking about it! I'm so stinking excited and have so many things to share. So just know that I apologize in advance, but why wouldn't I want to share my most exciting project ever with my besties??
As I've been posting before and after pictures of The Page Project on Instagram, I've had SO MANY QUESTIONS about how to buy a house, and my best home-buying hacks and tips. I thought about answering them on IG but decided to do a full-blown post sharing my BEST tips, and will continue to share even more on this blog and social media! (So be sure to follow along so you don't miss anything). Be sure to check out my new The Page Project blog page, to find everything about our house and renovation in one place.
Ok enough chatter, on to the home-buying tips!
And since I can't make anything simple, I've listed out the tips for you below for quick reference in the future:
Make a must-have list!
Get a notebook, and write down your top 10 most important things you would love to have in your dream home. I did my 5 and Bubba did his 5. This sets your expectations from the very beginning, and keeps you from falling in love with a home that doesn't have many of your “things”. Our goal was to find a house that had 6 out of 10 (3 of mine and 3 of Bubba's) and we knew it would be a good compromise and great match. Our Page Project home ended up having 9 out of 10! WAHOO! (you better believe we jumped on it like nobody's business.)7 bank accounts post for tips on this, and just add this as an 8th account! And, have you checked out my budgeting program? Budget Bootcamp gives you my secret formula to becoming financially successful!
Save MORE than the cost of the home
One important thing to remember when budgeting for a house is it's not JUST about the cost of the mortgage. When you buy a home there are potentially 10's of thousands of dollars worth of additional fees and needs – realtor fees, closing costs, mortgage insurance, utilities, furniture, repairs, fixing up your own home to sell, moving costs, etc. Please please please OVER budget so you're not surprised by a sneaky several thousand dollars that you weren't prepared for. It always costs more than you think!
Look into special loans and grants
You may have to put as much as 20% down on the home. TWENTY PERCENT! That's a huge chunk of dough. Luckily there are grands and loans to help bring those costs down, such as an FHA loans for first time home buyers, that can help cut that percentage down dramatically (sometimes as low as 3% instead of 20!). My advice is to talk to a professional to see if/what you can qualify for.
Focus on what's PERMANENT
Don't let a beautifully staged, decorated, or beautifully painted home distract you. Look at the bones! Look at the layout, neighborhood/location, roof, foundation, position of the home, number of rooms, age of home, plumbing, electrical, etc. Sure, those things can be updated but it's much cheaper to paint and decorate than it is to gut and re-build a home with issues.
Location, location, location!
Schools, neighborhood, and overall location is something that can NOT be changed, and is probably the most important factor when selling a home. Again, location should weigh in more than any type of beautiful decoration or paint job – don't sacrifice location!
Walk through 30-50 homes before you decide
Bubba and I set the goal to walk through 50 homes before buying our forever home. 50 might not sound like a lot but oh my word that's a TON! If 50 is a stretch, I recommend at LEAST 30. Trust me, homes can be very different in person than they appear online. It's so important to physically walk through the homes and FEEL the quality, layout, natural light, etc. Remember, pictures can be (and are) heavily edited before going online! Do your research and you'll just “know” when you walk through your perfect home.
Agents aren't mandatoryOur situation and houses have been very complicated (we bought a short sale that took 12 months of fighting and negotiating, and even this new house was a complicated sale) so we never would have been able to do it without an agent. (See who I use and why we love him on our The Page Project page!). BUT..you don't HAVE to use an agent! In fact, if you don't, it can save you quite a bit of money. If you go this route, however, be prepared to put in some extra elbow grease and you'll need to commit to doing a lot more research and due diligence.
Save THOUSANDS on taxes!If you buy your new house for less than it appraised for, you can get your taxes lowered accordingly! Take the information in to your county assessor, and they will lower your taxes to suit the price you purchased the home for. We didn't know this until a few weeks ago and are saving several thousand per year on taxes as a result. SCORE!
And lastly, Take. Your. Time.
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and want to rush into something. Trust me, the last thing you want is an impulse-buy that you'll be paying off for the next 30 years! Slow down, take your time, commit to walking through 30-50 homes, and stick to your “must-have list” and you'll be just fine!
Do you have any other home-buying questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Thanks for watching, and happy hunting!
If you’re new here, welcome! You can get all my budgeting and finance tips, and my secret sauce in my fun-to-watch video program Budget Boot Camp!
You have nothing to lose because if you don't save or earn at LEAST what you paid for it, I'll give your money back. So use the code FCFBLOG at checkout to get an extra 10% off, and give it a try!