Big, BIG things happening for us as of late. Apparently we don’t know how to do low key/boring. :)
2010 – Engagement
2011 – Wedding/Honeymoon
2012 – PURCHASE OUR FIRST HOME!!!!!!!!!!
2013 - ??? I’m sure we will find something to spice things up next year!
Remember back in February when we turned 30 and went on our lovely trip to Mexico? Well the day before we left for vacation we found out the owner of the condo we rent is planning to sell. What did this mean for us? Well it meant we had to move and do it within the next few months. STRESSFUL! The thought that we would need to move, or that our apartment would be sold, was nowhere on our radar.
We had planned on building up our saving account a little more and then purchasing our first home. The plan was to move at the end of the summer (or possibly early 2013). With the news of an impending sale coming our way, the purchasing timeline was moved up. Our move out date was no longer being driven by our savings account but by our current landlord’s desire to sell.
Despite our initial freakout everything has worked out pretty well. We have a friend who’s a realtor so we called him the day we found out about needing to move and he got us hooked up with the lender that afternoon. Within a week of coming back from vacation we were preapproved for a place and ready to start the big search.
While we were drinking margaritas and relaxing on the beach the husband and I came up with our must have and like to have lists for our first home.
Here is what our list looked like in order of priority …
- Within our ideal price range
- In DC (not Maryland or Virginia)
- Pet Friendly – we can’t part with little Miss. Sophi!
- 2 bedrooms
- Walking distance to a metro
Like to Haves:
- Parking Space
- Plenty of Storage
- 1.5 or 2 bathrooms
- Patio and/or balcony
I felt like this was a pretty good list to begin with and began stalking RedFin for listings. After looking at a few condos in person, our must have list started to change a little. We quickly realized a large living/dining area was important to us. Small bedrooms were okay as long as the living space was big. I feel like I do two to three things in the bedroom. Sleep, get dressed and watch tv. I don’t need a massive amount of space for any of those. Also, it became very clear places under ~800 sq feet were just too small. As it turns out the one bedroom we rent is slightly over ~800 square feet so when you add a second bedroom but don’t increase the size of the unit the living space shrinks considerably. TIP: find out the square footage of your current place before you start looking at places (to rent or buy). This will help you to gauge what square footage is ideal for you.
After viewing at least 20+ places in person and probably over 100 online we ended up putting an offer in and after a week of negotiations the place was officially UNDER CONTRACT. WOOT WOO!!!
Based on our initial list we end up with the following:
- Within our ideal price range – FAIL we went over the initial budget
- In DC (not Maryland or Virginia) – CHECK
- Pet Friendly – CHECK
- 2 bedrooms – CHECK
- Washer/Dryer – CHECK
- Walking distance to a metro – CHECK
Like to Haves:
- Parking Space – Fail
- Plenty of Storage – Fail … well kind of.
- 1.5 or 2 bathrooms – CHECK
- Patio and/or balcony – CHECK
- Fireplace – Fail
PLUS our living/dining room is HUGE and get a ton of natural light, win win!! Overall I would say we made out VERY well with our first homeowner purchase.
Looking back at the process here are a few things I think we did right and a few more I wish we had done:
- Go with your gut. If you love it then you love it and if you don’t there are always more places coming onto the market so don’t settle. For those of you who purchased a wedding dress and had “this is THE dress” moment that will happen for your home too!
- View a lot of places and even take a look at places you aren’t sure look great online. Not all places photograph well (or the owner just puts up crappy pictures). We found a few I wasn’t sure about online and then really liked in person.
- Remember the paint color (or wallpaper) can always be changed!
- Determine what the deal breakers are. For example I hated when the second bedroom didn’t have a window (which didn’t come to light until we saw a few places like this). It didn’t bother my husband, but we agreed when things are a deal breaker for one of us then the place is out.
- Figuring out what you can afford and comfortable spending BEFORE you start looking and don’t look out places above your price range. I mean let’s be honest if you find a place for 100k that you like, but then look at a place for 500k 9 times out of 10 you are going to like the more expensive place. Just don’t tease yourself it isn’t worth it I promise (same thing goes for wedding dress brides!!!).
- Going back to the first choice place at least once before putting in an offer or shortly there after. It felt so good to walk into the condo and confirm I LOVED it.
- Getting the paperwork in order while looking for a place. I wish I had asked the Lender for a list of the paperwork we were going to need to provide (bank statements, w-2s, paychecks, etc) to get fully approved. The documents takes a while to compile and if you are like me, you might have forgotten how to access some of your 401k accounts online.
- Don’t take the negotiations personally. The seller wants the highest price possible and you want the lowest. Some back and forth is to be expected. We had a hard time with this because we felt our initial offer was very reasonable/fair.
And remember to RELAX and try to ENJOY purchasing your first home!!
Related blogs coming up soon: Moving, painting and other homeownership related projects.
What tips do you have for a first time home buyer? Do you have any pre-move in tips for us?
Don’t forget to leave your tidbit by commenting below :)