Do you dream of owning your own home someday? The pundits want us to believe that your generation – born between 1980 and 1995 – are disenchanted with the dream of homeownership. But I, for one, don’t believe it for a moment, although for the first time in history, you’re not leading the charge in the housing recovery.
Here’s what I have heard and think:
There’s a saying in my family that routinely brings a chuckle (or three) out of everyone except my mother. The reason is that those chuckles are at her expense but deep down she knows that my father, sister and I do it out of love. Definitely not out of amusement.
While the latter half of the saying varies depending on time, date and season, it always begins with “It’s hard to imagine …”
For instance, we could be driving along, staring at the snow-covered landscape and my mom would chirp up and say, “It’s hard to imagine that in six months time these trees will be covered in leaves.” Like clockwork, we can depend on her uttering some variation of those words and so, the “it’s hard to imagine” phrase has become a part of our family.
Now, as Amy and I sit here typing up our takeaways from our Homebuying Adventures, I have to sit back, think of my mother and say, “It’s hard to imagine that a few months ago we were just beginning this adventure.”
The Homebuying Adventure process has been part eye-opening, part stressful and part awesome. The biggest eye-opener was of course my meeting with Mollie Bergstrom from Mortgage (I’m still working diligently on building up my credit) but the day we spent looking at houses is right up there as well.
It’s hard to go into an experience like this without expectations, ideas and prerequisites in mind. House hunting is a lot like going on a series of blind dates. First, you tell someone (your trusty Realtor® in this case) what you are looking for, your likes, your dislikes and everything in between. He or she goes out and scours the home inventory in hopes of finding you that “match made in heaven.” Then, it’s time for you to brace yourself as you put your trust in the hands of fate and venture out to “meet” your prospects.
I think the most exciting thing about buying your first home is the actual process of looking at homes. I couldn’t wait to see what my choices would be. I was counting down the days … and finally the day arrived! The first day of looking was devoted to condos and townhomes. As a former apartment dweller, I associated the condo living with the same lifestyle as an apartment. I’ve recently moved from the apartment to a rental house. In my mind, a townhome falls somewhere in between the two.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, below is a great chart to compare condo living versus townhome living:
As I started this Homebuying Adventure, I’ll have to admit I was a little nervous about the mortgage process (check out my video here!). Hidden in my credit closet were several credit cards with more debt than I would like to admit. So when Mollie Bergstrom from Allen Tate Mortgage said something about pulling my credit score, I prepared myself for the worst.
I’ve been working on paying down my credit cards (yes, I was one who fell into the credit trap right after college) and I’ve heard mixed comments about closing those cards after they are paid off. In talking about this dilemma with Mollie, she told me that closing paid-off cards erases the “good credit” that you’ve built up. What? This is good to know! I have good credit on the cards with no balance! I tucked away this information and tried to ease my nerves on my pending credit score.
After meeting with my Realtor®, Maggie Redmond, and diving through the information packet, I realized this Homebuying Adventure was going to be about more than just buying a house! Lucky for me, Maggie came to my rescue. No more overloading on information by myself. She made everything simple.
As I digested the step by step buying guide, commonly used terms and my property wish list, I came away with the following:
Why should I buy? Why now?
Now that I knew it was a great time to buy, what’s next? Could I start searching and picking out my perfect home? As I began filling out the wish list I realized that I didn’t even know what I could afford. I knew I wanted to keep the payments close to what I was already paying in rent. Wait! There was a paper in the information packet all about mortgages!