House Buying // Part 1

Part 1: Ugh.

Well everyone, we’re house hunting.

As we are starting this process, I have discovered there is little information on the internet about other people’s house buying journeys. Or even just a play-by-play of exactly how buying a house works. So I’ve decided to document our own journey in the hopes that others might find our experience helpful, or at the least something to be nosy about.

Here’s the thing, though… this is going to be a pretty long process and here are some reasons why:

  1. We don’t have money saved specifically for a down payment (but it’s in the works).
  2. We don’t particularly know what price range of houses we should be looking at (but we have a ballpark)
  3. We are dealing with a seller’s market (meaning: houses are being bought quickly)
  4. We aren’t in a terrible rush… but wish we were in a terrible rush.
  5. We have no idea how to buy a house.

Soooo we have a few bits that need to be ironed out, obviously. You’re probably reading that list thinking “why the heck are you even starting this process if you have no money saved for a down payment, you idiots?”... we’ve asked ourselves the same question, trust me. There are a couple answers though. First of all, there are sometimes breaks offered to first-time homebuyers that can land you a home with little to no down payment required. Secondly, simply put… why not? It doesn’t hurt to start thinking about it, and frankly, I prefer to take things slow in situations like this because it helps me be sure I understand exactly what I’m getting myself into.

The other reason we’re seriously looking at buying a home is this: The amount we currently pay for the rental of our apartment is about equal to the mortgage of a $300,000 home. So why keep wasting our money something that builds no equity? The only problem, again, is that down payment. That’s really the only thing holding us back. However, with a few tweaks to our budget, we’re hoping to start building on that.

As of yet, we have met with a Realtor, who we will probably use going forward. We have searched out a handful of open houses and discovered certain areas that we must have in a home, and some things we can probably bend on. So far, here are some things we’ve learned overall:

  • Having a yard in this area of Georgia is a precious commodity, and we need one for a dog.
  • There is no such thing as “starter homes” meant for young, first-time, home buyers. You can either have a townhome mashed up against your neighbors with no yard and a road filled with parked cars, or a $300K+ house that two youngins couldn’t afford, or would be able to fill with furniture.
  • If you don’t want a giant, expensive house, or a semi-expensive, tiny townhome, you must live in the boonies and settle for a fixer-upper.
  • Neighborhoods matter. I honestly did not put much thought into this one. When you see a house in online listings, and it has a sub-par exterior, with a beautiful, updated interior, do not assume it’s your dream home. We drove a long way to what we thought was a promising open house, only to take one look at the meth-lab-esque neighborhood and high-tail it out of there. Neighborhoods REALLY matter.

There you have it. Part one of our gazillion part series on buying a house. Again, as you can tell, it’s going to be quite the process, and we’ve barely scratched the surface… but we are crazy-excited nevertheless!

In this series, I really want my readers’ feedback. What experiences have you had in buying a home? Do you have any advice for this first stage? Did you manage to snag a home with a small down payment, or no down payment at all? I really want to know!