4 Do's + Don'ts When Buying Your First House

I’ve learned a few things in my journey to buy a house (some I had to learn the hard way) and I am sharing them with you today!  Get ready for the Do’s and Don’ts of buying your very first home!

I bought my first house a little over a year ago and it was both stressful and exciting!
Being able to do it by myself has given me such a great feeling of accomplishment and although it doesn’t come without its occasional drawbacks, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Having your own house (rather than renting) comes with a great feeling of freedom. It’s YOUR house. Want to paint the kitchen lime green? Go for it! Want to have people over late at night without having to worry about annoying the tenants above you (or vice versa)? No worries. Want a backyard all to yourself that you can fill with flowers, a BBQ, and firepit? Do it! FREEEDOM!

Of course, it doesn’t come without responsibility as well. Grass needs cutting? That’s your job now. The furnace needs repair? The cost is yours. Enjoy those long steamy showers? You’ll see that on next month's water bill.

The mix of good and not so good just means the decision to buy your own home shouldn’t be made lately.

I’ve learned a few things in my journey to buy a house (some I had to learn the hard way) and I am sharing them with you today!

Get ready for the Do’s and Don’ts of buying your very first home!

Don’t // Judge a House by Decor

I’ve almost fallen for this one myself. A Home’s decor can ALWAYS CHANGE. Don’t like the ugly carpet? Rip it out. Don’t like the color of the walls? Paint em’. The opposite is also true. Love the furniture? It’s not coming with the house. Like the crown molding? Too bad there’s water in the basement.

It’s so difficult not to go in and judge a house by its decor (probably for females more than males). After all, it is the very first thing you see. You have to look at the house as a whole and remember that you can transform any room decor into the room of your dreams. Yes, it may cost you to rip up the carpets and paint every room, but if everything else about the house is in great condition then don’t put off making an offer.

Do // Educate Yourself

You’ll want to do (some) a lot of research. This includes researching the best neighborhoods, asking price of similar houses in the area, etc. along with researching different types of mortgages to find out which one is best for you.

The internet was my best friend when I was looking for a house. There is SO MUCH INFORMATION available for first-time homebuyers,! Also, talk to any friends or family that recently bought a home. They’ll be more than willing to help.

Don’t // Skip a Home Inspection

Truth time - I didn’t get an official “home inspection” - However, I did have my dad come and take a look at things and he’s pretty handy and knows what it looks like if there’s going to be an issue with the house. This is what you want. You want a set of eyes on the property to look at things like electrical, plumbing, the foundation, drafty windows, leaks, creaks, etc.

The last thing you want to do is buy a house and then as soon as you’re done moving all your stuff in you notice that your electrical panel is super outdated and it’s going to cost a hefty penny to get it updated. Make a home inspection one of your conditions for your offer going through - you won’t regret it.

Do // Be Realistic

Be honest with yourself about your needs vs your wants. Sure, we’d all love to have a walk-in closet or jacuzzi tub, but do you NEED it? Probably not.

When I took a first look at my current house I thought it was too small for me. Then I took a step back and asked myself “how much space do I really need?”. If I’m living alone and don’t acquire that much “stuff” then, in reality, the space was perfect for me.

Don’t // Get Attached to the First House You See

It’s really exciting when you start to look at your first home, so it’s easy to get all starry-eyed over the first one you see. Just like with many other things in life, you might have one rose colored glasses your first few house tours. It’s very possible that the first house could be perfect for you and check off everything on your needs list but still try and look at other options just to be sure.

Do // Work With a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents can be a HUGE help in your house search. Once you meet with one and discuss what your needs are they’ll weed through all the listing and only provide you with good options (or at least this is what they should do). Make sure you have a good connection with your agent. Ask around to see if your friends or family have any suggestions for you. You want to work with someone that you feel comfortable with and aren’t just trying to “make a sale” and are actually concerned with helping you find something that’s perfect for you.

Real Estate Agents know the housing market. They’ll be familiar with home value, neighborhoods, etc. They are specialists. Just like you wouldn’t try and give yourself a root canal - you shouldn’t go on a house hunt alone.

My house was listed by the owner so I didn’t work with my realtor for the purchase of my home, but because it wasn’t the first house I saw I had experience with my realtor and learned some valuable things I didn’t know before working with him.

Don’t // Forget About Closing Costs

You saved up enough for a down payment, you got pre-approved from your financial institution, you found a house you looooove, and they accepted your offer - YAY - that’s it, right?

Closing costs are easy to overlook but you’ll need to keep them in mind! There will/could be lawyers fees, land transfer taxes, appraisal fees, title insurance, property tax adjustments, certificate of location fees, etc.

Some banks and financial institutions suggest that you save 3%-4% of the purchase price of the house for closing costs, but it varies.

I know thinking about all the money you need to save before buying a house is a HUUUGE drag but it’s important to keep these things in mind.

Do // Get Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved with do two things 1) make your offer stand out to the seller 2) keep you in line with your budget.

A few years ago the housing market where I lived was pretty crazy - almost every house sale resulted in a bidding war. If you already know you’re pre-approved for a mortgage it can make your bid more appealing, since you won’t have to wait for approval by your financial institution to close the deal.

There’s also nothing more heartbreaking than going to an open house, falling in love, and then finding out it’s WAYYY out of your budget.

I know some of this may seem stuffy and no fun but the truth is: buying your first house should be exciting!! Don’t stress the small stuff and if you run into some hiccups in the process (everybody does), take a deep breathe and remember that your first house is out there somewhere waiting for you to walk in the front door.

Happy house hunting!

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