Few people know that Jovan is, in fact, my second husband. *gasps* *fainting* *someone screams Jezebel*
Please keep this to yourself as I haven’t shared this with Jovan yet, waiting for our 7 year wedding anniversary night to spring this on him.
I bring this up because I actually bought my first home with my first husband. Both of us were first time buyers, had no idea what we were doing, what was important, and what was not. We ended up buying a home sold to us by the listing agent, for more than the original list price even though it was on market for almost 100 days 😑, and let me just say, my marriage wasn’t the only thing I was excited to leave behind when I finally pulled that plug 😂. At the time we didn’t know a Realtor who we could trust and sorta stumbled through the process ignorant to strategy or even the concept of a professional helping us make better decisions.
Fast forward almost 15 years and Jovan and I have now personally owned about a gazillion homes and I’ve helped hundreds of first timers buy homes – I’ve pinpointed exactly what I would tell my younger self if I could do it all again.
5 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me As a First Time Buyer
1. You caring more about white cabinets than location and floorplan is dumb
Hey, guys. Stop doing this. Whether it’s the cabinets have to be this, I cannot have carpet because of my “allergies” meanwhile you have cats and Guinea pigs in your apartment, I don’t like the red accent wall, I wanted the yard with grass not rocks… meanwhile the house is in a perfect location, has the right flow and space, AC blows cold, roof 5 years old, and I’m poised to make this seller pay for all your closing costs because every other dummy has passed for the same superficial reasons. Don’t be like the other dummies! Weight your decision on those things that cannot be changed but that bring true value – LOCATION, SCHOOL DISTRICT, PARKS NEARBY, NEAR FREEWAYS, and of course the space you need to live. The rest you can work on over time and when you do your buck will go further because you nailed the most important factors.
Or, buy the box an hour from civilization because it has white sparkly countertops and the seller is leaving the BLESSED NOT STRESSED sign; I get paid regardless and you’ll just have to live to regret it as you commute 90 minutes daily.
2. Seller Concessions > Price Reduction
I don’t know about you guys, but for me one major barrier to me buying my first home was that I had exactly $4 to my name at the time. Baller credit score yes, but that didn’t do me much good when it came to the fees related to buying a home. I’m not talking down payment, I’m talking closing costs. Most people buying their first home don’t have THOUSANDS of dollars in their bank account unless they are really getting some traction on OnlyFans. Even if they do, wouldn’t it be nice to use that cash to paint/furnish your new place or, idk buy formula for your baby? This is why being strategic in negotiations is necessary. So many buyers try to get a discount off asking price when negotiating a contract… to me, this makes little sense. Instead, PAY THE SELLER AT LEAST ASKING PRICE AND GET YOUR CLOSING COSTS PAID INSTEAD. The appraisal contingency protects you from overpaying for the property so don’t trip and a few thousand dollar price reduction spread over 30 years does nothing to alleviate your empty-pocket syndrome anyways. But that few thousand dollars taken care of for you by the seller at the closing table makes a BIG difference in real life for you.
3. Don’t ask the seller to repair, get money
This one is simple and is rooted in my profound trust issues. If you discover something busted, ghetto, bo-jenkity (shoutout to Eric for this word) in a home inspection, why are you going to ask the people who let it be busted, ghetto, bo-jenkity to fix it? Sure you can demand they have a “licensed something or other” do it and now you have to worry about confirming that, and making sure this licensed person isn’t their cousin Cleetus who came and hit it with a hammer and called it good. No baby. Just get money. Hire your own person later to fix it right and you’ll have more peace of mind and not have to fuck with chasing down a contractor at a disconnected number because it broke 5 days after you got keys.
4. Use Down Payment Assistance for Godsakes!
Down payment assistance, also sometimes called “first time buyer programs” come in different shapes and sizes. I’m not a loan officer so I’m not going to dissect to any great level but one thing I do know is just about nothing is free. Many buyers think these programs are free money to them, they aren’t, they cost something (almost always). But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be used. In fact almost ALL of my first time buyers utilize DPA and to me it makes perfect sense. Once again, who’s walking around with a down payment when you barely have two nickels to rub together? And although down payment assistance programs often come with higher interest rates, they are a great way to get your foot in the door as an owner – you can refinance later or sell WAYYYY before you ever pay that bitch off, and now you have a down payment for realsies because you sold your first home and made some major money. And for those who do have a down payment saved, I still think it’s smart to look at down payment assistance. It may make more sense for you to keep your down payment cash, utilize the program despite higher cost because that cost is spread out over time meanwhile keeping your cash to improve your property will help you add value and enjoyability to your home.
5. Ready to buy is a decision, your excuses are why you make zero progress
I’m going to be super frank here. If you’re qualified to buy a home and you know your family needs a home of their own, that means it’s time to buy a home. I understand you’re scared and you’re masking that scaredness with “ewwww it’s not a good time to buy, or imma save up, or my dad said interest rates are too high or I’m gonna wait for a crash.”
Don’t play yourself.
Most of y’all been saying that same shit for years meanwhile you’re already paying a mortgage (just not your own) every month that happens to go up every year, your kids have to switch schools once a year because you haven’t put roots down, and you’ve yet to start the clock on what’s likely to be the best investment you can make towards financial stability. If you can afford a payment on someone else’s home you can afford one on your own. The interest rate is truly not relevant if you can afford the monthly payment, and nothing builds wealth and self esteem faster (especially for parents) then owning the roof over their kids’ heads.
You not taking action IS an action. Those in the game are winning, those who sit out have decided to lose.
In conclusion… I hope this taste of wisdom gets you thinking about your own home buying goals, or helps you if you’re currently buying! As always reach out to me with questions.