By Michael Gold
The prospect of acquiring my first home in my 20’s never seemed feasible, but now that I was fully submerged into the home buying process, the idea really started to sink in. My search for my first home would soon ensue. It would end up being the most fun part of the whole process. There is something about going to different houses and imagining yourself living there that is elating. What you’ll do with each space, how it’ll be coming home from work and other activities, what kind of personal touches/improvements you want to make, etc. It’s all very exciting.
Last week we talked about how to find out what kind of credit you have, and therefore what kind of loan you are eligible for. We also talked about how to find the right real estate agent. So now that we have an idea of what kind of loan we qualify for, we have a real estate agent and we’ve set a budget, we are ready to start looking for our first-ever house.
Step 3: Finding the Right Place
The search should be exhaustive. You should literally explore every option within your budget – condos, houses, duplexes, everything. You’ll find out what you like or don’t like in the process. Find out what kind of neighborhoods these places are in. Find out what the people are like in those neighborhoods. Are they friendly? Does it seem safe? Even in some parts of town that are notorious, or considered dangerous, you can find a cul-de-sac that is bursting with charm and friendly neighbors.
This was the case for me, as my eventual residence was in a city that might be considered a bit more on the dangerous side and by no means a wealthy, affluent city. Yet, it was the neighborhood I fell in love with. The surrounding neighborhoods, too. It was in a part of town that was relatively upscale. Close to a few parks, very well landscaped. It was an ideal location in a city that might otherwise have been overlooked. This was a huge reason why we jumped on the house, because we thought we found a diamond in the rough.
Everywhere I went, I made sure to talk to at least one neighbor. Get a bit of history on the neighborhood, and find out what it might be like living there. As a millennial, schools and things like that weren’t necessarily a concern for me, but proximity to my work, and proximity to fun places to go out on the weekends were. This town was close enough to all those things that made it truly attractive. I also had a strong desire to have my own property with no connecting walls, if I could afford it.
Step 4: Making the Offer
Of course, there are countless books, classes, and ideas on how to close a deal. If you so desire, you could crack open Trump’s “The Art of the Deal”, or perhaps something by Roger Fisher. Or, if you’re like me, you can trust your real estate agent, the research you’ve conducted, and make an offer that you believe is fair with all things considered.
In our case, the home did need some repairs. It needed to be tented for termites. There was a water heater that needed to be replaced, and a few other things. We used these as bargaining chips in a way. We also leveraged the length of time the home has been on the market, and we had picked up on the notion that this seller was eager to accept an offer. With all those factors in place, our offer went through fairly quickly, and we felt we had walked away with an amazing deal. Which, we did. Especially given how quickly it was expected to appreciate in value.
Sure enough, after we made the repairs, tented the house, potted some new plants, and moved in all our furniture, we were absolutely satisfied with our decision. I was a very happy homeowner. All the time spent negotiating, searching, negotiating some more, and finally closing (which featured a never-ending bundle of paper work to sign), it was all made worth it. I instantly understood how valuable it is to own a home. The sanctity of caring for a property, managing tenants, these things were all tremendously valuable, and I would soon realize I had a lot to learn in these skills.
The whole process was incredibly rewarding. Since the time we purchased the home, its value has gone up by almost 30%. That’s 30% in a short span of about three years. Amazing! It was truly the right time to buy. And although the market has certainly changed since I purchased my home, I hope that you will have a similar experience, and I wish you the absolute best on your journey towards home ownership!
More to come in Part III… Stay tuned to RE-Insider for the final chapter of my story!