My mom was a single parent and we always rented either an apartment and later on a townhouse. I enjoyed renting, I never saw the pros that everyone kept talking about with owning my own home. Sure sometimes the places were small but there was always enough room it never felt crowded to me. As I got older I looked forward to moving out and renting my own place, I had all these ideas on how I would decorate. People talked about how owning your own home was an investment, this was (and guess still is) an abstract concept to me. As with many things in life nothing is ever easy nor does it go the way you plan.
I never knew that growing up my mom would hold on so tight it was hard to think about going. I never knew how much I would enjoy and love living with my mom and sister even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye.
My sister moved out a few times during her relationship with her husband, so it was just mom and I and we got a long pretty good but the dynamics of our relationship changed and I became more responsible for household expenses and mom continued to take care of the rent. When my sister moved back and stayed she brought her husband with her and the dynamics changed again and I realized I liked living with more people. We did outgrow our town house and we made the decision to start house hunting.
I love where we currently live the house is great, it really came in handy to have a bungalow because of mom’s stroke. I don’t see myself moving anytime soon and today’s entry is about purchasing the first home.
When I got pre-approved it was a bit of a shock, I had never really worked at having great credit, I never figured about buying a house and knew I’d never have to buy a car but when the lovely man at the bank said you are good to go I was pleasantly surprised. With the hours I was working at the time I couldn’t look at houses with my sister and her husband, from what I hear a lot of them were total nightmares. I didn’t want to go house poor and didn’t want to get a house at the top end of what I was approved for. After looking at lots, and lots, and lots of houses we found one we liked. The kitchen was amazing, it had a nice dining room, good size living room, and a great finished basement with an extra kitchen. It needed some work but nothing that we couldn’t handle, plus the backyard backed on to an awesome green space where we wouldn’t have to worry about who was behind us. After putting in an offer and negotiating we finally settled on an agreement and we scheduled a home inspection. Although spending $450 on this home inspection seems like a lot of money it was for this house a great idea as the inspection turned out that the roof had substantial water damage that would have needed to be addressed ASAP and not something we could budget for so we back out of the deal and continued our search.
It was funny when we were looking it tended to be that it was always 2 on 2, either my sister and I liked the house and my mom, and brother-in-law didn’t or some combination. At one point when were looking we came across this really beautiful home with original hardwood floors, fantastic open concept big living room and dining room with an amazing entry way. My mom and I loved it, I bring this one up because when we first started listing our needs I joked with our Realtor and said I was picking on “bathrooms” I just needed 2 toilets in the house. This one delivered my sister called up from the basement saying “be careful what you wish for” so I walk down to the basement there in a little area in the laundry room was a toilet just hanging out…ready and waiting to be used. That wasn’t the reason we didn’t get it, the basement just didn’t work.
At this point we had been searching for about 3 months, so here is my first tip for new home buyers, don’t expect the search to be quick, it’s going to take longer than you expect and you will look at so many more homes than you ever wanted to. Our Realtor was awesome, so patient with us and ensured that we only saw homes that met with our needs. We were not picky by any means, as long as it was on a pretty good bus route, had a fenced in yard, had 3 bedrooms and 1.5+ bathrooms we were set, these were our needs. Our wish list was a dishwasher, a garage, a shed, and a finished basement. When our Realtor was going on holiday he set it up so the database auto pushed any new listings that met our criteria to my brother-in-laws email so that if something did come up when he was gone we could reach out to his brother who was also a Realtor. I’m not 100% sure when the listing came through but I’m pretty sure it was early December 2011, when the listing came in and we ended up seeing it that night with our normal Realtor’s brother. This was the first house that when all 4 of us walked in we knew it was the one (well we hoped since we had already been burned once), and decided to make an offer. Knowing that the house was just about to hit the market and knowing that it was a great house I didn’t try to low ball the seller. I also learned that the seller was motivated to sell as he had moved out of the city and was about to carry 2 mortgages, I came in at asking price which ended up being right at the top of our budget.
So my second tip, look at homes throughout your price range some on the lower end, mid range and the higher end, you never know where your home will be found. We were lucky this house was priced to sell and may have been priced to get multiple offers but since we offered a quick close (60 days) and we didn’t ask for anything to be thrown in the seller accepted it without any issues, and alas we had to pay another $450 for yet another home inspection. This inspection didn’t come out squeaky clean but unlike the last one the major things like furnace, windows, and roof were in perfect shape so we went through with the offer.
After signing my name and initialing so many papers so many times I was excited to be done with it all and pick up the keys. No one was available to come with me so on February 29, 2012 I picked up the keys to our new home…let the chaos of moving begin!! We had 30 days to move things in from the town house and I really wish we had done the move a bit differently but whats done is done and I cannot change it so my next tip, if you have the time and great organizational skills use them, do small trips each day to get mostly everything moved and put away as you do it so you are not surrounded by boxes.
The other couple of things that happen when you buy your first house that no one told me about, you have to pay a deposit when you agree to purchase the home and it can be a lot, the first house we had to put down a $1500 deposit the second one was $3000! When getting getting the property taxes set up we decided to do it ourselves and not have it rolled in to the mortgage and as such when I went to set it up on preauthorized monthly payments, I was told by the not so nice lady at city hall that I was late and that I would have to pay $8 late payment fee (WHAT?) but since I was setting it up on preauthorized payments she would forgive this, I know this sounds nice but with her attitude it wasn’t. She also informed me I owed over $500…WHAT… so this leads to my next tip, save up lots of money for unexpected expenses with buying home. Also always change your locks, we did!
What is the story behind your first home?