How to Buy a Home! My Best Home-Buying Hacks and Tips!

Mar 30, 2016 | Lifestyle, Our Home, Page Family Updates

How to buy a home! The BEST home-buying hacks and tips that will save you tens of thousands! Post + video from

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.)

Start saving NOW

Don't wait to start saving until you're ready to buy…start NOW! Even if you aren't planning to buy a house for 5 years, start saving right this minute. I suggest making an account that is JUST for your home savings. It keeps everything set aside, and visual so you see exactly what you have! It's motivating to watch that number grow. See my 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 mandatory

Our 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!). 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!

How to buy a home! The BEST home-buying hacks and tips that will save you tens of thousands! Post + video from

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!


  1. Holly

    Hey I know this might be to personal of a question but heck I’m going to ask anyway…… I love your NEW house!!! I know you worked so hard to get it and BTW congrats! but I was wondering how much you got it for and how many sq ft is it? Where about is this? Salt Lake area? We currently have a house in Pleasant Grove and love it but not as many options like this down here. We are still new to the whole budget thing and I know we are no where near able to afford something like this but I would love to have a house like this someday for me and my family. Anyway, thank you for all your helpful tips and I love your sites! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Not too personal at all! All those questions answered at

  2. Lauren

    Congrats on the new house! It seems incredible, way to go! Do you happen to know any way around waiting 2 years to apply for a home mortgage loan if you are self-employed? My husband is a self-employed health professional and we’ve heard of programs in the past but have already been told by two banks that we need to wait to show 2 years of cash-flow or get a coborrower. Were you guys self-employed when you bought your first house? Did you have to wait two years, too? Thanks in advance!

    • FunCheapOrFree

      No, that’s super hard and that’s a problem that we were running into several years ago. Rules have tightened up a ton for self-employed! The easiest thing to do is have someone co-sign on the loan with you, then you can refinance after 1 year and take them off the loan. Not ideal, but it would speed up the process! Oh and yes, we’ve always been self-employed!

  3. Christine

    Great tips! Quick question, you mentioned looking at 50 houses. How did you manage that with the kids, did you take them along? Also I feel like my agent would get so frustrated with me. Did you check out mostly open houses without an agent present? Just curious how you managed. Thanks! 🙂

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Oh my word it wasn’t easy! We took them with us many times, or we would schedule a playdate for some of the kids, or get a babysitter for all the kids. It was not easy. If we were only looking at 3-4 houses in a night, we would turn on a movie on the ipad in the car and leave them in the car as we ran in. We got to the point where we could be in and out of a house in 10 minutes because we were so in-tune with that we were looking for. Then, if we wanted to come back and look at a house in better depth, we would get a sitter and take 45mins to 1 hour walking through the house without the kids! And we’ve always looked for an agent so I don’t know what it’s like to do no agent!

  4. Stacey

    I love your tip to create a dream list. I’m a single mom with 3 kids and we’ve outgrown our rental and I really want to buy but I know I’m not ready right now. So I sat down and thought about what I NEED in a house and only had 7 things on my MUST list. My wants list only had a handful of things too. I regularly check MLS and KSL and a couple other sites just to see what’s going on in the areas I want to buy and what I can expect. I’m hoping to be ready to buy in 6-8 months, but I feel like now that I’ve nailed down what I really want I won’t be tempted by a deal I can settle for. I’m also hoping that by putting it on paper that The Secret will work and my house will manifest itself. 😉

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Best of luck!! I have no doubt you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!!! XO

  5. Sarah

    I understand your thinking behind looking at 30-50 houses first, but I don’t understand the point of looking at a house without there being a chance you will buy it. There may not be many houses in your price range and the ones that are a good deal, get sold fast. If I looked at my 3rd house and fell in love with it, by the time I looked at a ton more, Theres a good chance that house will be gone. We just bought our second house in November. We had been looking for months online and had driven by a few but had only looked in one house before I found this one. We fell in love and was just what I was looking for with only a couple exceptions. We looked at it the day it went on the market and it finally sold after 3 days of being on the market with a couple interested buyers.

    So my advice would be, do your research, know what you want, but if this is only the 5th house you look at and its perfect, dont wait!

  6. Sarah Anderson

    Indeed, start saving to buy a home as soon as you can. The sooner you start, the more money you will have to put into your budget. Personally though, I wouldn’t put that extra money into the budget, I would use it to lessen my mortgage payments.

  7. Ellie Davis

    I wasn’t aware of how many additional fees there were when purchasing a home. My fiance and I are wanting to buy our first house. I think we are going to have to do some research and hire a realtor to make this the best experience possible. I hope we are able to find the best one for us and move into our new house as soon as possible.

  8. Anna Andsten

    Hi Jordan!
    I loved this post, so informative and useful!
    I have been dreaming of buying a house since some time, and now I think I am ready to start saving.
    I think you’re right that it is important to save more money than the actual cost of the house. I bet there’s a lot of extra costs, that I cannot even know about at this moment.
    Another important fact is to take time before making the decision. It might sound easy now, but I know once I want to find a home quicky, I will not think about considering long enough. I will try to remember that!
    Thank you for your tips!

  9. Caden Dahl

    As you said, it would be a good idea to look into special loans or grants. I know that I don’t have a whole lot in saving so that would help me out greatly. I’ll also see about getting the help of a professional as that would help me best.

  10. Steele Honda

    Thanks for pointing out that when looking for a home it helps get a notebook and write down your top 10 most important things you would love to have in your dream home. My husband and I are thinking about buying a house soon so that we can be closer to family and so that we can have more room to live in. I think that it would be smart to have a list of what we want when looking for our home so that we can narrow down what homes to look at and help the process go a little bit faster.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Yes! Good luck looking for a new house!

  11. Greta James

    About a week ago, I was talking with my mother, and she mentioned that she wants to buy a slightly smaller home so that she will have less cleaning to do. However, she also wants a big yard so that her grandkids can run around. Thank you for the advice to think about the layout, age, and plumbing of a house, not something easily changeable like paint color. I will have to help my mother start looking so that she can buy a house!


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