I started house hunting in 2014. At this point in my life I had a stable job, a strong relationship and we were ready to buy a house for the first time. Some benefits of buying a house that I was shooting for were a lower monthly payment, investing in our future and customizing our space to suit us!
As with anything, I started the online research, checking out houses in different areas of town, average cost, entering numbers in calculators, reviewing insurance, escrow all that really fun stuff. I swear I looked at 1,000 houses online, it quickly became overwhelming. The house search talk sparked some conversation and a friend connected me with a real estate agent.
We started looking at houses in person and quickly noticed everything in our price range either had a really strange layout or it needed a great deal of work before it was move in ready. After looking at houses in every waking moment I threw my hands in the air and gave up. My wife Jessie, who was a girlfriend at the time, swooped in to save me and within an hour of looking, she found the house.
Brick House Highlights
- Single Family home built in 1937
- Interior : 1,670 sq ft
- Lot : 8,710 sq ft
- 2 Bedrooms / 2 Bath
- Basement Partially Finished
- Central Cooling and Forced Air
- Cement Foundation
- Exterior Red Brick, vinyl siding and shingle roof
- Detached garage with 2 parking spaces
- Corner lot with “park” across the street
- Architectural style : conventional
Our Imperfect Starter Home
I think our realtor was surprised that we wanted to look at this house. It had been on the market for almost a year and there were some red flags about the house when we went to visit it. Air fresheners were in every room covering up the musky smell. The kitchen floor was not level and wonky, it almost felt like a fun house. Side walks were cracked and leaning towards the house. Mortar on the brick was mismatched showing previous repairs and the garaged looked like it was skewed, you know, leaning a bit.
I may be too much of an optimistic person because what I actually saw at the time was a blank canvas. I saw an immense amount of potential in the little house, the neighborhood, and within my growth financially as a person. We knew paying less on a mortgage would ultimately mean more freedom. The flaws of the house and it’s time vacant gave us some pretty good negotiating power.
We were able to get a few things repaired before closing that were identified at troublesome by the inspector and this was good enough for us. Our excitement caused us to overlook somethings we probably shouldn’t have. There were signs of water damage which I talk all about in the basement section of this series but we moved forward anyways.
For the things they were unwilling to repair we negotiated a lower house cost overall. With the house sitting for so long the seller was very motivated and ended up covering closing costs and a house warranty. This was enough for us to feel secure with our purchase.
First Time Home Buyer
It seems like owning your own home is a challenge now a days especially for millennials dealing with student loans, finding jobs and now on the housing shortages. It was a big deal for us, we knew we were on our own as our families couldn’t help. Due to student loans, we didn’t have a downpayment. Living paycheck to paycheck didn’t open up any extra funds. We are (un)fortunate enough to live in satan’s butt hole so price of living here is one of the cheapest in the country but it was still a scary financial thing to commit to.
Best Home Buying Hack
Ask your financer, the bank, the realtor or all of the above to see if you qualify for any home programs, grants or first time home buyers programs. I think I read this tip online, and thought it was worth a shot, so I asked my financer after getting pre-approved. Turns out, I qualified for a first time home buyers program. I took a couple courses, read documentation on how to upkeep my house and protect my investment and was awarded 8k as a downpayment. One additional condition for the grant was that I lived in my house as my primary residence for 5 years. This grant ultimately allowed me to have a lower loan, lower monthly payment and I’m so glad that I asked!