We bought our first home the end of 2012, so we are approaching two years of home ownership. So far, it has been a great experience, but the process of home buying is taxing (to say the least).
Our house hunting process started when we weren’t really specifically looking to get into the market. We saw a house that we LOVED, went to go see it, and when it didn’t work out, we stopped hunting for a few months. We then had a bad experience (again) with our rental so we kicked it up a notch.
After months of searching, we found the right house – one that met most of our criteria, and the points that it failed to meet were easily fixable. Because we had heard that house hunting is a difficult and emotional process, we decided to do some work in preparation for the purchase.
This proved to be helpful, as it took a lot of pressure off of our shoulders.
One of our biggest downfalls when we bought our house was not having the documentation on file in order to be approved for our mortgage.
In our defense, my research didn’t turn up the need for the specific documents we required to make the purchase. IT was only after our mortgage company requested them and gave us a checklist that we knew exactly what we needed.
It took quite some time to find and source the documentation, which was a bit of a headache.
I’d recommend getting any tax documentation together for proof of employment and/or income, even going as far as scanning your certificate or degree to prove employability.
A “No Compromise” List
After having watched enough HGTV for a short lifetime, and watching the house hunters on the show bicker over a difference of opinion on certain houses, my husband and I decided to both spend some time to list what we wanted in a house individually, and then compare notes. Anything that was important to both of us went on the top of the “No Compromise” list, so that if ever we were in a situation where we needed to remind ourselves what we needed in a home, we could refer to it.
I think more than anything that gets you on the same page if you are buying with a spouse, and also saves you a lot of time and hassle looking at houses that just won’t fit with your criteria.
Be sure to be reasonable, however. No house will be perfect. You can change paint and aesthetics.
A Detailed Budget
I can’t believe that anybody would ever buy a house without a budget, but there are people who do. Before even looking online, you MUST have a budget set up. Many people end up becoming house poor, because they buy above their budget. How do you know whether you are buying above your budget without knowing how much your budget is?
There is plenty of software out there that will help you budget, but even putting pen to paper and writing down everything that your family spends each month compared to your income will be very helpful in determining how much house you can afford.
When you determine how much you can afford, you should find a house that is cheaper than that. After all, if anything happens, you don’t want to be stuck with an expensive house and no way to pay for it.
Having these things in place prior to house hunting and applying for a mortgage made it easy on us. Not having the paperwork was a huge hassle in an already stressful time. Home buying can be difficult and hectic, so having a plan, a budget and documentation already in place and set up is key to ensuring you don’t have to go through more stress than absolutely necessary.