Exciting. Intimidating. Nausea inducing. The prospect of buying your first home can be all of these things and more. Sometimes all at the same time, TBH. While there are countless mortgage resources out there, there’s something comforting about hearing from someone who’s done it before and can give you some sage advice.
Before you buy your house…
- Avoid “hard hits” to your credit score. Don’t apply for any new credit cards or loans leading up to buying a home. When you apply for a new credit card, lenders will check your credit score with what’s called a “hard inquiry.” Hard inquiries could lower your credit score and limit how much money you can get preapproved for. Don’t let bad timing be the thing that gets in the way of you buying your dream home!
- Get a preapproval, but don’t feel like you have to spend the full amount. It’s a great feeling when you get preapproved for a hefty sum, but make sure your mortgage payments will be manageable along with other expenses (like all those cute midcentury modern furnishings you’ve been saving on Pinterest). If you’re purchasing your first home with a partner, consider buying something you can afford on just one of your salaries.
- Ask questions, and definitely get a home inspection. When you tour a house, don’t be afraid to get up into every nook and cranny. Ask how old the roof, water heater and any other big-ticket items are. Then, make sure it’s as good as you think it is with a home inspection. The home inspection will likely cost $300–$400, but this is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s worth it to get it right.
When you move into a new house…
- Unpack the essentials. Worry about the rest later. Moving is exhausting, so do yourself a favor and just focus on the basics. Pack an overnight bag with essentials for the first few days, and on moving day, prioritize setting up your bed. After a long day of hauling heavy boxes into your new home, it’ll feel so good to plop down on your bed for a good night’s sleep.
- A quick paint job can work wonders. Paint is a relatively affordable way to refresh a room and make it your own. If you know you need to paint (what was the previous owner thinking with those red walls, anyway?), get it done right away before you unpack any of your furniture. It’s much easier to paint with all your stuff packed away and protected from any paint splatters.
- There’s no need to get everything done right away. When you first arrive, you’ll have a lot of home improvements in mind, but don’t rush. Identify a few priority projects to accomplish in the first year, and then add to your list over time. You may find that your wants and needs change as you live in your space over time, so keep your options open.
Once you’re settled in…
- Get to know your neighbors. You don’t need to become BFFs, but it doesn’t hurt to be friendly with the people around you. Plus, your neighbors may be able to recommend good maintenance and repair services in your area. You can also help each other out by watching over each other’s houses when you’re gone.
- Start setting aside money for home improvements and repairs. Set up an automatic savings deposit, even just $10 a month, for a home improvement fund. Then, when you need to cover an unexpected home repair (which you inevitably will), you’ll have a nest egg you can dip into. Another easy way to save is to put a jar in your kitchen or entryway for loose change and small bills.
- Pay one extra mortgage payment a year. You can pay your mortgage off faster by paying one extra mortgage payment each year toward your principal. It may feel like a lot, but if you save up throughout the year and plan for it, this is a relatively easy way to take YEARS off your mortgage payment.
Whether you’re getting serious about buying a home or just thinking about thinking about it, we’re here to help. Start by watching our homebuying how-to videos to get familiar with the process. Then, when you’re ready, you can meet with one of our mortgage loan officers to get your fast and free preapproval, so you can actually start looking. Like, for real. Good luck!