This week marks my one year anniversary... of owning my house. I really can't believe it's already been a whole year! Elsie and Jeremy are currently closing on a home and watching them go through this exciting (and stressful) process has got me remembering my own experience last year. Just for fun I wanted to share a little about my home buying story, with a few tips and insights that I learned along the way.
After college I had moved to a bigger city (Los Angeles) for adventure and to pursue other things. This is when I got really into food blogging, and after a few short years decided I'd rather live near my family and work with my sister in our little Midwest hometown. As I packed and planned for my move home, I started dreaming about buying a house. I couldn't afford to right then, but the possibility was much more real than thinking about buying a house in LA. The cost of living between LA and Springfield, MO is... very different. But I also felt intimidated about trying to buy a home. What if I applied for a loan and got rejected? Would it hurt my chances because I was single and only 24 years old? It felt like a far fetched goal, but I kept dreaming—and occasionally looking at houses for sale online. :)
I knew if I wanted a shot at buying a home anytime soon I needed to save up a substantial down payment. Saving money is hard! I was able to find ways to pinch pennies, and my generous parents let me live at home for a year (rent free). And so, I saved. And saved. It became a little bit of game to watch my tiny savings account grow. I made monthly goals and skipped just-for-fun purchases, so I could meet those goals. And after a year of saving, I had right around 10% for a down payment (based on
my house budget).
Another concern I had was my credit score. (Oh no, I just used the words "credit score." Did you just fall asleep? Anyone still there?) This was something I had been somewhat mindful of for years. Because I am a total dork. I am not a credit score genius, but I do know about a few basics: Pay your bills on time, use a credit card but keep the balance low, don't close out accounts, don't open a bunch of unnecessary accounts, etc.
I was also very nervous about applying as a single lady. Of course single folks buy homes all the time. I just didn't really have any close friends who had. It seemed like a really adult thing to do (apply for a loan) and expensive. Having another income maker seems like a safer bet than a single person, and I was just hoping that my bank wouldn't necessarily see it that way. I am also self employed so that creates a whole new layer of confusion
for some loan offices. Applying for and getting a home loan was intimidating and nerve wrecking. Why lie? But I tried to just face things one step (or one form) at a time and keep going until I got approved or denied.
But even more than being afraid I couldn't get a loan I was nervous about picking out a house. All. By. Myself. It was me who had to decide what features were important, what neighborhood was best and it was me who had to negotiate the sale (with the kind help of my real estate agent). I get uncomfortable about money negotiations. I am very unexcited for the day I have to buy a new car. I just feel shy and awkward during money talks. So negotiating the sale of my house was a scary thing to think about.
But looking at homes (aka shopping), well, that was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I looked at a lot of houses online, narrowing my search. I remember the first day I went to look at houses in person. My realtor and I had two houses we were seeing that day, my top two choices. The first one I was REALLY excited about because it had all wood ceilings and floors. I love wood. It was listed as a four bedroom, which was sort of weird because my price range mainly included three bedroom homes. I got there a few minutes early to check out the neighborhood and... it was ok. I had no expectations for a gated and manicured suburb, but
this neighborhood was very underwhelming. Then we entered the house and I loved the wood ceilings even more in person. They were charming and it felt so cabin-like. What I didn't like so much was how two of the "bedrooms" were separated by a sliding glass door. Yep. I guess they had added on to the house but left the sliding glass door instead of replacing it with a wall or regular door. For charm? In my mind I was thinking that maybe I could just get the door taken out and open up the room into one large master bedroom. It would no longer be a "four bedroom" house, but I didn't think it could really function as one with the sliding glass door anyway. Maybe an office space? One of the other bedrooms was only large enough for a bed (a small bed). The backyard space was mostly taken up by a unkempt storage shed. And after we left the house my realtor noticed that he had flea bites on his legs.
So that house was a no. And I felt a little discouraged. We didn't see the second house that day, because the owners asked to reschedule. When I got home that afternoon my dad asked how house shopping had gone, and I told him I was beginning to feel a little defeated. Maybe I didn't have the budget to really get a decent house and I should wait.
Later that week I did get to see the second house. And it was lovely. It had mostly wood floors, tile kitchen, carpet bedrooms, neutral walls, a nice backyard and a decent neighborhood. It has all cedar siding too, which I love. I put in a bid. We went back and forth. I got an inspection. Yada yada. I bought it! I remember last year, on August 15th, sitting in a little room and signing SO many papers while my realtor, his boss, my loan officer and a few others watched. My loan officer gave me a candle; it smelled like apple pie. And then I was a home owner. I had keys and a garage door opener.
One year later I am still in love with my little house. And although I am no home buying expert, I feel really proud that I did it! In this post you can see some peeks of my bedroom; I'm planning to do a full home tour later this year. But I'm not quite ready. I'm a very, very slow decorator (apparently). Thanks for letting me share my home buying story with you. xo. Emma