Both Greg and I had never owned property before buying our first home. The true definition of first time home buyers. No idea what we were doing or where to start. We made a list of things we wanted in a home. We wanted an older house rather than a modern condo because it would fit our lifestyle better. Location was also very important to us. We didn’t want to live too far out in the ‘burbs and still be close to work and have metro access.
Where to start
We read tons of articles online about how to buy a house. But you don’t really know how it is until you go through it yourself. The first thing was to get a realtor. We decided to use Redfin (this is NOT a sponsored post with them) because we knew we’d always have someone helping us. Even if our own realtor was on vacation. Plus we liked the fact that we’d get money back from buying the house. Every penny helps, am I right?
You’ll have seen in this video, that we bought our house very quickly. I saw it on Saturday morning new on the Redfin app (which is amazing by the way), scheduled a tour that same day and signed the contract that following Tuesday. After seeing the house on the app that morning, we had to get our gears in motion on getting pre-approved. Our realtor had previously sent me three different lenders to look at and their reviews. We decided on a lender that was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I can’t even tell you how seamless it was to work with him and his team.
We filled out our application online that afternoon and mentioned that this was an urgent application. Houses around here sell VERY quickly and we knew we needed to act as quick as possible. By the time we finished our house tour at 6pm, we were on the phone with our lender discussing the pre-approval letter. A few minutes later, he emailed it to us.
Making an offer and securing our mortgage
When it came down to putting the offer together, there are a few clauses and contingencies you’ll learn about. Your realtor explains them all to you and you decide how you want to proceed. When we finally signed the contract, it was go time. I had to put down a small deposit the following day to show our buying commitment. Redfin has a great online buying interface and it was easy to keep track of each step that needed to get done. And let me tell you, there are A LOT of steps.
Our lender sent us a list of everything we needed to send him. Paycheck stubs, tax forms, copy of ID’s, bank statements up to 3-4 months back and all sorts of forms we needed to sign. During the time of loan approval, all of your accounts are being put under a microscope. You should not make any other big purchases during this time and also not have any deposits outside of your regular pay check. They will ask you about certain line items if it’s unclear what it is and you have to provide documentation for it, if applicable.
Home inspection and appraisal
We scheduled our home inspection a week later and that’s when you learn A TON about your new place. They dissect every inch of your house from the exterior to interior. We received a written report with recommendations and photos of what needs to be fixed. I will say that after living here and speaking to other contractors, not everything on there is super urgent. Home inspectors are trained to be more strict so it may seem like there’s a lot wrong when there really isn’t. And it’s not like we were buying a new construction home.
The appraisal is scheduled by the lender so you don’t have to do that. They will email you their report and that’s that. Our house was also checked for termites and poisonous gas and everything was good. We opted not to pay for a property survey as we wanted to wait until we get our fence installed this year. Property surveys expire and even though people say you can use an old survey, I’d rather have a current one for our fence installation.
Once that home inspection is done, you don’t go back until your final walk through before closing. You check to make sure the house is still in the same condition that was agreed upon. Clean, empty, and whatever else you agreed upon with the seller. We had to reschedule our final walk through because the seller hadn’t completed everything that we asked for in the contract. And then on the day of the final walk though, the seller’s realtor was still working on preparing the house for us.
Really the only negative story in our experience was the seller’s realtor. He would not respond to our realtor’s emails or calls and when he did respond, he would give vague answers. The seller had renters at the time and we had asked when their lease would end so we could set our closing date very close to that. He initially said the end of May so our closing was June 1st. A few weeks after he said that, we got a call asking if we wanted to move up our closing date to mid May because the renters had moved out… We obviously said no because we still had our apartment until June but we could have moved this whole process up.
The Final Stretch
You have to get a homeowner’s policy set up, decide on title insurance, type of ownership (if you’re buying it together with someone) and of course, plan your move! I booked a cleaning crew (because I didn’t trust the seller’s realtor) and estimate appointments with plumbers, electricians and an exterior contractor. Oh and we also got new locks! All of our ducks were in a row and all we had to do was wait until June 1st.
It was a very exciting day because all the stress of getting your loan approved is gone. You have sent in your funds for closing and all you need is the keys. We met at the title company office with our signing agent and our realtor for our settlement. The signing agent leads the meeting where she explains each and every document so that you know what you’re signing. The appointment took about an hour. Once we were done, our realtor took a photo of us with the keys in our hands. Cheesy, I know. But it was very rewarding to complete this process of buying our first home.
The Buying Experience
Overall it was a very good – but nonetheless stressful – experience. You have to stay on top of EVERYTHING and it helped tremendously that Redfin and our lender were so good to work with. I was very anxious at times because I didn’t know what to expect. Working out a lot definitely helped me stay calm during this time. I also didn’t want to jinx anything and wanted to make sure everything worked out. We just got so attached to our new home that we wanted everything to go right. Doesn’t every home buyer feel this way?
I hope this post was helpful and shined more light on the buying process. I know it’s a lot to take in. But as long as you take it step by step, you will get through it. Please leave me any questions down below or comments about your first home buying experience. I’d love to hear your story!