Every season has its own ebb and flow… and our ebb of rental living was giving way into the flow of a new home, a place to call our own. The desire once again for walls we could paint, demo, paint again and hang memories right along with our family photos won us over. While it was a dream of ours, it wasn’t always a dream throughout the “making it happen” period. The home buying process itself had its own ups and downs. It was a process that opened me up to a different way of looking at things. A different way of looking at our finances. A different way of looking at our goals. A different way of looking at our debts. And overall a different way of financial planning.
It still feels surreal to type those words; We Bought A House. I have to say, I waited until we had keys in hand to celebrate. Although I still have some butterflies at the thought of owning our own home again, we’re all so excited that we have a place to grow some roots as our little (or not so little) family can settle into a space we call our own.
Even in the beginning stages of preparing to buy a home, we knew it was important to talk about our finances, and make sure we were ready for this next step… this financial commitment. It was kind of an “aha” moment for us, a chance to really take control of our finances. So yeah, we bought a house, and I’m sharing our home buying tips and what we learned in the process!
- Know what you can afford, and learn about all expenses.
Before actually buying a home (unless you’re going in with all cash) you have to be pre-qualified for a loan and figure out what your monthly max budget should be. You may have already found the place you want thanks to someone like a Castle Rock Realtor, however just make sure that your budget likes it as much as you do. This is a great time to sit down and figure out your financial picture. Making a list of all current expenses, income, debt and other factors really helps to give a snapshot of where you are, and what your home budget should be. On top of this, factors such as down payment, mortgage rate, home insurance and taxes will all factor in to what your max budget will allow… and this is where a great loan officer comes in. Once you access and gather your own personal information, they will bring the financial snapshot of the homes in your area into the picture and help figure out the right purchase amount for you. The hardest part here is staying within that budget! Finding a home at or below budget will really help to avoid some major stresses down the line though.
- Get on the same page.
Buying a house with your significant other? Found a good realtor? Before even walking through homes or describing what you want, it’s important to all be on the same page. Chris and I have been talking about things we wanted and things we didn’t, areas we wanted to live in and areas we didn’t, what we wouldn’t compromise on and what a red-flag would be for a long time. Even so, when it came time to meet with a realtor and really get the search started, we made sure we were on the same page and could clearly communicate what we wanted and needed in a home. There were times we were so close and a red-flag would pop up that made it hard to walk away… but we did. There were times I wanted to give up because I thought we wouldn’t find a home for us, but we didn’t, thankfully! In getting on the same page beforehand, we were able to communicate better during the process and it helped us to not settle for something we didn’t really want or that wouldn’t suit our family’s needs.
- Know where you stand.
Through our work with Prudential, we’ve been learning about some of the unique financial challenges women face and why it’s so important for women to talk about it now in order to take control of our financial future.
So guys, I’m not trying to leave you out, but I do want to take a moment for the ladies. Just as an example, did you know that women outlive men by an average of 5-6 years1? And yet many times retire with two-thirds the wealth or no retirement planning.2 Another crazy statistic: The average woman working full-time earns 79% of the income earned by her male counterpart3, which also affects women’s 401K balances and social security.
One of the things I liked about Prudential is the Value of All You Do tool that helps estimate the value of all the unpaid work you do, which helps with life insurance and planning ahead to really secure the financial future of not just lost work in case of something… it’s about making sure your family is taken care of.
- Find good people, and be open.
There are so many times during a home buying process where you still feel like a little kid trying to live in adult shoes… and I don’t think it really changes no matter what age you are (unless it’s something you do often). That’s just the thing, for most of us, it isn’t something we do often, so finding people to have in your corner that do certainly helps. Finding a great realtor that knows the market and the area is a big help and a patient and helpful loan officer (which many times comes recommended from your realtor). Being open about what you want and where you stand, right away, is important, as it will help the entire process get off to a good start. Having a realtor that is actively fighting for you will help keep you on track for what it is you really want. Ours even had to field a couple of nasty calls from another realtor when they “forgot” to inform us about previous flooding we happened to find out about and backed out of the deal! I’m telling you, the market can get crazy, so taking the time to have the right people in your corner is so worth it.
- Don’t be afraid to wait, it’s worth it.
All that research, all that time walking through doors and dreaming of what could be, all those times you (almost) had it, the sad phone calls when another bid was accepted over yours or the house you wanted is off the market… it’s all worth it. There were a couple of almost homes for us, and now that I look back, I’m SO grateful for the red-flag that surfaced or the phone call that something fell through, although in the moment, I didn’t quite see it. Once we opened up the front door and walked through what is now our home, I knew it was a perfect place for our family. It just felt right and we felt a peace in being there. So, while we’re still in the demo process (yes, completely remodeling!), I cannot wait to settle in soon… and I really can’t wait to share it all with you!
Are you thinking about home buying, or even just feeling ready to take the next step in your finances? It’s so important to start a conversation now so we can start proactively owning our financial futures!
Are you ready to own your future? Click here to learn more from Prudential and connect with a Prudential advisor today. Comment below and share your “aha” moment that has made you want to take control of your financial future!
1. Prudential Retirement analysis; National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2015: With Special Feature on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Hyattsville, MD. 2016
2. Source: Prudential Retirement analysis; National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2015: With Special Feature on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Hyattsville, MD. 2016
3. U.S. Census Bureau, Historical Income Tables Table P-40: Women’s Earnings as a Percentage of Men’s Earnings by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2016