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!
Home Buying Tips and a FREE Debt Payoff Calculator Download
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, 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 help 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 into 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.
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.
Ladies, it’s time for us to take a snapshot of our finances… and this 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.
Knowing where you stand REALLY comes into play when you have debt to think about. We put together this little Debt Payoff Calculator and it is one big screenshot of where we stand in that area and gives us a clear vision to focus on as we pay that debt down.
Download your own Debt Payoff Calculator here!
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 the 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!
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
Congratulations! We just bought our first home in March and I’d say you’re spot on with the points you made here. ?
Stormie Ramirez says
Definitely know what you can afford!! Mortgage companies will try to stretch your budget majorly.
Not being afraid for the right house is SO important! So glad you guys found a place that you love <3
Thank YOOOOUUUU! This post was just what I needed. Buying a home is a good thing to do; however, you definitely have to be smart about how you pursue that goal. I appreciate your honesty and tips in this post.
It took my husband and I a little over 2 years to find our home. You have to love that hot Tampa housing market for that. Our home was the 3rd one we were under contract on. Looking back, we are so glad the other 2 fell through.
Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms says
These are great tips! I definitely agree with the point about knowing the finances ahead of time. There are so many fees and charges!
Sheila Jo says
Congrats on your new home! I hope you and your family are very happy there!
Tabitha Blue says
Thanks you Sheila!
We are looking into buying bigger home in the next year, so these tips were very helpful. We have discussed what want and dont want, but haven’t actually made a list! Wonderful tip
Shannon | Mom Without Labels says
This is such a great, thorough, post and such a great resource! Congrats on your new home!
Congratulations on your first home!!! Its such an incredible feeling and experience!! Also really great tips 🙂
Great advice. Id love to buy a house but right now isnt the time and thats ok. I love knowing someday is an option just when I know its affordable.
What a great post! We just bought a house a few months ago and I wish I had read this before that! It was such a long complicated process because we had no idea what we were doing!
[email protected] says
Great tips! We are in our 4th house and I feel it never gets easier haha
I love your advice of don’t be afraid to wait, I found that to be so true! There’s no reason to rush into such a huge purchase.
These all really great tips! I completely agree with you. Especially waiting until you know it’s the right time and house.
Aly Funk says
Congratulations on your new home! I’m loving watching y’all remodel! These are great tips.
We are in the baby stages of looking into owning a home and these were great tips!!
Danielle @ A Sprinkle of Joy says
Such great tips! Buying home can sure be a scary and exciting time!
Congrats on buying the house! And I loved reading about your process. Thanks for sharing so many helpful tips! My hubby and I are in a getting rid of debt/saving season. We’ll get to the home part soon!
erika ortega says
Congrats on your new home Tabitha, always lovely photos. I’ll definitely say yes to waiting and always know what you can afford.
Claudia Estrada says
congrats!! We bought ours 5 years ago and it was the wisest decision ever and since then God has protected us!
Congratulations. We are hoping to buy our first home in the next year! Saving up that down payment!!
Deb Pearl says
Thank you for all the home buying tips! My husband and I really want to buy a home, but we have never bought one before. I really liked how you mentioned after getting pre-qualified for a loan, that would be a great time to sit down and figure out a financial picture. I think it really would be smart to make sure we have a plan.
Frank Delaware says
A friend of mine is looking at houses near a golf course, and we were curious about how you would find the right one. I love that you say to make sure that you research, and then make sure to wait for the right one to come up. I know that I would rather get the house of my dreams than settle for something I didn’t like.
Derek Dewitt says
My wife and I are thinking about buying our first home together this year, so thanks for sharing these tips. I like your point about finding a good realtor that can help you keep track of what you really want. We have specific features we want the home to have, so we’ll be sure to find a realtor that seems passionate about finding a house like the one we want.
Silas Knight says
You’ve got great ideas for buying a home. I like how you said that my wife and I, with an agent, should be on the same page. We both have different priorities, but I’m sure we can figure out what’s most important to both of us.
Frank Delaware says
Thank you for all this great information about buying a house! One thing that I really like is that you say to get pre-qualified for a loan and figure out what your budget will be. That way, you won’t have to worry about not being able to afford everything.
Sam Li says
I love what you said about the importance of having a realtor fighting for you during the process of buying a home. I think that working with the right real estate agency is important to aid anyone when it comes to finding the right fit. I will definitely consider finding the best real estate company in the area if I were to move with my family in the future.
Kit hannigan says
I really like what you said about how realtor to help you find a new home will guarantee that you have someone in your team that is actively fighting for what you want out of the deal. My cousins are looking to move to a new state because of an unexpected career opportunity. They certainly do not know anything about the area, and they will definitely want to keep their home purchase within their budget, so I will be sure to advise them to start looking for a realtor to help them out.