Posts filed under ‘Buying a Home’

What Not To Do When You’re Buying Your First House

So, I was just emailing back and forth with my new Twitter friend Melanie D’Acchioli. She’s in the process of buying her first home (actually, short sale – good luck girl!) and I mentioned that I’m always willing to shell out some advice on buying your first home. I wound up putting together 4 items that I wish I had not done during our homebuying process. A lot of this is covered (in so many words) in previous blog posts, but to recap, my email to her included the following:

“I had stars in my eyes and just went for whatever was thrown at me. So, I have a couple words of advice, and I’d do it SO differently if I could do it over again:

1. Not working with a Realtor (why is that word always capitalized? It’s not like President…) who was sensitive to our first-time homebuyer status. She took FULL advantage and was lazy lazy lazy. We should have called her out and fired her, but we just went with it. She also provided NO counsel on our first offer, which should have been MUCH lower than what we went with. She wanted commission, plain and simple. Which comes to 2…

2. Low ball the offer. These days, just do it. We were afraid we’d lose our “dream place” if we didn’t act quickly and gave them what we thought was a “competitive” (too high) offer. But, if we had waited another couple months, we would have found another “dream place” at a much lower price. People are giving away their houses in this market, so they’re more willing to be flexible, if they haven’t already driven their asking price into the ground. If you’ve got a short sale, it’s very likely that the bank just wants it off their hands, so they might be just as receptive to a lower offer. What’s the worst that could happen? They say no, so you offer them something a little bit higher? We were too timid to be aggressive, which ended up costing us.

3. Not pitting loan officers against each other for the best rate. We probably settled at a very high rate when we could have held out for something much lower, but I felt bad about inconveniencing my Realtor’s relationship with the loan officer. Shop around as much as possible, it’s their job to be inconvenienced as long as YOU get the rate you want. Technology makes the transfer of forms & materials much easier, so they can handle it.

4. We looked at one place and were like “we can fix the bathrooms, the kitchen, tear up the carpet, etc.” Nope, not even a little. We’ve been at our place since September 1 and barely have it decorated (still have 3 rooms to paint), nevermind remodeled and whatnot. Everything is 10X more expensive than you think it will be, so these items become more of a “wish list” vs a “to do” list. Luckily our place was in good shape and was basically exactly what we wanted, but if we had settled for a fixer upper, it’d still be one.”

What words of advice do you have for first-time homeowners? I’m only 6 months in, and our process went quickly, so I’d be interested to hear what more experienced home buyers could offer…


March 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm 4 comments

Don’t be an overzealous first-time homebuyer.

When we bought our place, we were so eager to move out after living with my dad for a year and a half that we jumped at every opportunity that presented itself. And, when you have excellent credit and a boatload in savings, opportunities come out of the woodwork. But, they’re not all good.


I’ll be honest, we made some mistakes. We settled for a realtor who we felt was lazy and did not have our best interests in mind (The Masiello Group, that’s you. You get no link love and you do NOT get my referrals). We settled for a mortgage broker that was a partner to our realtor, instead of researching the best person that would give us the best rate because we felt bad about inconveniencing everyone involved (note: it’s about you, not them. They are paid to do what YOU want to do. If it means they have to work a little harder, so be it). We put 10% down when – if we had lived with my dad only 6 months longer – we could’ve put 20% down (How much do you need for a down payment?) and probably could have gotten a better overall deal on a condo, since real estate prices continued to plummet.

I’m telling you this because maybe, just maybe, you’ll listen. Here’s the thing: friends, family, and people who’ve been there, told us to wait. They told us to hang back, do the research, and learn from their mistakes. Still, we were on our own accelerated timeline, and when gambling and bargaining don’t really appeal to you, you settle. Financially, we settled.

Don’t get me wrong – I am pleased as pie that we bought our condo. It’s exactly what we envisioned, and it was the first big step in building our lives together. We’re so incredibly fortunate to be able to afford our place at such a young age, but I know that we made many typical first-time homeowner mistakes. I may not have it all together domestically, but we went through the home-buying process quickly. It forced me to take responsibility for my decisions, whether they were split-second or well thought out. I cannot wait for my friends to begin the home-buying process, as I’m hopeful my experiences – and the advice of those who went through this before me – will help them avoid our mistakes.


January 19, 2009 at 11:25 am 1 comment

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