For first-time home buyers, buying your first house is an exciting and amazing experience. It’s also stressful, mind boggling, hair raising, and downright emotional at times. It’s definitely not an experience that I’d want to repeat any time in the near future, but the end result is certainly worth every little gray hair it gave me.
If you’re serious about buying your first home, chances are you probably already know a good bit about the process. For instance, you’ve probably already checked to make sure you have good enough credit, shopped around for a loan, and possibly already been pre-approved for a mortgage. Good for you! You’re on the right track.
Of course, as with any major purchase or change, there are bound to be some surprises along the way. In fact, there are quite a few things that people don’t tell you when you set out to buy your first house. These are the things that most realtors won’t tell you and the things that you won’t find in the neat little lists meant to help prepare you for being a first-time home buyer. These are the dark and dirty secrets of buying a house…
1. There are hidden expenses when you buy your first house.
Or when you buy any house for that matter, so be prepared. You probably already know that you’ll need to come up with the down payment, which can be anywhere between 3.5% to 20% of the purchase price of a home. On top of the down payment, you’ll also need to come up with cash for closing costs.
The closing costs can include expenses and fees for everything from lawyers to surveyors to administration fees. There’s a good chance you’ll also see fees for underwriting, appraisals, title searches, and all sorts of other fun things in your closing costs. And, let’s not forget the prorated taxes and a year’s worth of insurance that you’ll probably have to pay when you make your purchase.
2. There are hidden expenses of owning a home.
The hidden expenses don’t end after you complete the purchase of your new home either. Before you even move in, you’ll probably quickly realize that there are lots of fun hidden expenses of actually owning a house as well.
Remember all of those nickel and dime expenses that your landlord covered before? Yeah, those are all on you now, from light bulbs and paint to carpet cleaning services and lawn maintenance. If you lived in an apartment that included utilities, you’ll also be introduced to the joys of gas and electric bills as well. And, when the roof starts leaking a year down the road? All you. You need to realize that part of the costs of owning a home involve all of the routine maintenance, big and small. You’ll no longer have a landlord to cover those expenses; all of that falls on you now.
3. Your future matters when you buy your first house.
Obviously, buying a house is not a decision that should be taken lightly. There’s so much financial and mental preparation that you need to go through before you even think about house hunting. One important bit that some people may forget in the excitement of deciding to buy a house, though, is their own future.
Where will you be in five years? Ten years? Buying your first house is a long term decision and investment. Consider where your career or relationship might take you in the future, and think again about buying a house. If there’s a chance that you’ll need to relocate in the next few years, perhaps buying a home isn’t the best choice at the moment. You’ll also want to think about your family situation. If you’ll be starting or adding onto your family in the near future, you might want to reconsider purchasing that cute little one bedroom bungalow and opt for something with a little more room to roam.
4. Location really is important.
Realtors say it all the time—location, location, location! It might seem cliche, but it really is one of the most important things you’ll want to consider when you buy your first house. You can always paint the walls or even add onto your home, but moving an entire house to a different location is near impossible.
Take everything about the location of a prospective property into consideration before you even think of making an offer. How far will your commute to and from work be? Is it located near enough to stores? Is it far enough away from the neighbors? What are the schools like in the area? Visit the location several times at different times of the day and night. Is it too noisy or too busy? Too quiet or too bright? All of these things will matter to you after you buy a house…and they’re things that usually can’t be changed.
5. Buying a house won’t happen overnight.
You’re probably ready and raring to go out and buy your first house, right? You’d love to get into a new place in a few months, right? Wouldn’t that be great? Think again…
While it does happen from time to time, buying a home quickly probably isn’t in the cards. You’ll most likely look at several different properties and maybe even get outbid on a few. It could even take years for you to find a suitable house to buy, even if you aren’t super picky. Even after searching and searching for the perfect house for months and your offer is accepted…you’ve still got some waiting to do. The sheer process of buying a home is just plain lengthy. At this point, it could take months to close on your home. So, prepare to hurry up and wait.
6. Buying a house is a very emotional experience.
I always thought of buying a house as a pretty straightforward and clear cut business transaction. Very little emotion involved. That was my thought until I actually bought my first house, that is. Since then, I’ve changed my tune just a little. I now believe that buying a house, especially buying your first house, is an experience that can bring even the biggest, burliest, and toughest guys to their knees.
The truth is, searching for and buying your first house can be a very emotional experience. During the pre-approval and loan shopping phase, you’ll most likely find all sorts of dirty little secrets hiding in your credit reports and financial history. Loan officers might even be “mean” to you, and the whole process is just downright stressful! But, you’ll get through it! Moving onto the actually house hunting phase. This should be the fun part, right? Wrong! This is the part where you get attached to “The Perfect House”, only to find out that you’ve been outbid. Again. But, that won’t happen forever, and your offer will finally be accepted for “The Perfect House #43”! Yay! Or not. Now it’s time to go through the insanely stressful process of purchasing and closing on your new home. I don’t want to scare you, but there may or may not be tears and a mental breakdown or two involved before everything is all said and done.
7. You will have buyer’s remorse.
You’ve probably heard of the dreaded buyer’s remorse. Just to let you know, it’s very real, and it can happen to any new homeowner.
In fact, nearly every new homeowner has a moment or three of buyer’s remorse. After making such a large purchase and going through such a stressful process, it’s only natural. Don’t let the negative feelings scare you, though. Buying your first house is trying, at best, and your buyer’s remorse is most likely temporary. As long as there aren’t any major problems with the home, you’ll most likely soon let go of your Negative Nancy attitude and settle into your new home in no time at all!
8. You’ll single-handedly annihilate a small forest.
Think you’ve dealt with paperwork? You don’t know paperwork until you’ve purchased a home. The amount of paperwork it requires to buy a home is astounding! By the time you’re done, you’ll swear that at least one small forest was cleared just so you could purchase a home. Then you’ll feel guilty. A forest is gone now, all because you just had to buy a house.
You’ll start out with a mountain of paperwork in the first place, which, of course, you’ll need to read. Then, copies of that paperwork will need to be made, and someone will then scurry away to make copies of those copies. And, you’ll probably have tom read each copied copy too. Oh, and let’s not forget that you’ll also need to sign and initial everything…
9. Your signature will get ugly.
I don’t care how proud you are of your pretty signature right now. Once you start the process of buying a house, you can pretty much kiss it goodbye.
I started out with a pretty decent signature before closing on my first home. It wasn’t perfect, but it was sort of pretty and at least legible. After pouring over and signing the aforementioned mountain of paperwork, however, things took an ugly turn. My signature is now nothing but some random squiggles in the general shape of my initials. To this day, I still hate signing anything. Be prepared, and invest in a good pen and a wrist brace.
10. You will become obsessive compulsive about your new house.
When you rent, you may be a little laid back about some things. For instance, you might not worry too much about taking your shoes off when you come in, or hanging a picture, since—you know—there’s already a nail hole there from the previous tenant.
That all changes, though, once you buy your own home. Once you’re the one footing the bills for cleaning and repair, everything changes. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself being almost obsessive compulsive over the littlest things. You’re just protecting your investment and your new home after all.