Buying Our First Home: Part 1

budget, home buying, Uncategorized / Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

We are officially homeowners now! My husband and I just closed on our first home and we are beaming with boundless excitement, hope, and possibilities that come with buying a home that we hope to grow into for years to come.

Our home buying story began last spring. My husband and I had been talking about “one day when we buy a house” for a few years, especially since we moved to Baton Rouge from Washington, DC two years ago because home prices here are a quarter of what they are in DC (for serious, a quarter of the cost, we checked). Home prices were low and the market was recovering. We kept hearing about historically low interest rates on mortgages and started thinking that maybe that now was the right time. We knew we were settled into Baton Rouge, had friends, knew the town, and planned to stay even after my husband finished his degree.

I knew that I did not know anything about the home buying process and I wanted to become as informed as possible, so I started researching it. I went to the library and read Ilyce Glink’s 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask: With Answers from Top Brokers from Around the Country cover to cover. It is a bit dated, but has solid advice and information so I would recommend it to any newbie home buyer. I read other books, blogs, and articles on the current housing market, changes in mortgage rates, and other bloggers’ home buying stories. I spoke with my friends and family about their experiences and rounded out my education so that I felt comfortable with my understanding of the process. I wanted to make sure that we knew what we were doing and felt comfortable with the purchase process.

Almost 20 years ago, my parents had bought me and both of my sisters stock with $800 that my grandparents’ had given to each of us. My parents being the money savvy people they are, they bought stock in a natural resources company which had historically seen a good return from rising stock prices. Thank god they did not put it in a savings account earning less than 1% interest or took us on vacation with the money. My parents told us about the money and told us that they bought stock with it. As a kid, that is a lame Christmas gift. But my parents are known for fiscally responsible albeit lame gifts, like the year that we all got envelopes with IRA paperwork we needed to sign because my folks were opening IRAs for us in minor trust accounts.

I forgot about the stock until last spring when I did our taxes and was entering in the taxable amount of the dividends earned on the stock (we reinvested the dividends so they just kept buying more shares). I do that every year but this year I realized that the stock value had grown to over $5,000, enough to use for a down payment!

My husband and I had many discussions about what we wanted in a home, mostly a backyard and comfortable space to live in and grow into. We also took a look at our budget to figure out how much we could afford to spend monthly on a mortgage note and used online mortgage calculators to roughly determine our price range. We agreed that we wanted to be able to comfortably afford our mortgage on my income alone so that when my husband graduated from school in a couple years we would be able to pay off his debts and our mortgage without stress. That would also leave breathing room for future costs like children.

We got a referral for a great Realtor from friends of ours who had recently bought a new house near us. We had a few calls and emails with him discussing what we were looking for in a home before we went out looking at homes. We are easy to please, no demand for granite countertops and we like dated kitchens and bathrooms. We don’t care if it’s pink tile, as long as we can move in and comfortably live without having to knock down structurally deficient walls and in a safe part of town, we are happy.

More on our house hunt in the next installment…

70 Replies to “Buying Our First Home: Part 1”

  1. That is amazing! Congrats on your new home. I know how hard it is to be a first time home buyer. Our first time was not as difficult as our second time around that is for sure. Mortgage companies did not want to give us a loan the second time.

    So glad you are in your new home. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks! Yes, we really didn't want to buy too much house and end up in a bind. Watching the housing market crash really opened my eyes to how many people over extended themselves that way.

  2. Congratulations! You deserved to celebrate. You can be an example to many around you. I pray you have a wonderful time decorating everything just the way you like it.

  3. Yay! Wise parents and an exciting time in your life. Our first home took lots of elbow grease from lots of hands, but it was ours and we loved it. Enjoy and imprint memories on your heart of this special time.

  4. Congratulations on purchasing your first home! That is so great! My husband and I also recently bought our first home! Isn't it so great to be in a place that's all your own?! We're loving it!

  5. So excited for you!!! We are looking at houses right now but unfortunately prices are high here in Vancouver (about double what we can afford right now) so we're just looking. It's fun to look and dream together, though. We really need to work on saving so we can get that down payment! That's so awesome your parents bought those stocks for you. My parents did a similar thing with Canadian bonds, though I've cashed/spent all mine now (had lots of fun in Australia on it!). πŸ™‚ Good luck with your new home!

    1. My husband and I also spent a few years passively browsing, especially when we were still in DC and we were priced way out. Dreaming together is still fun though! And yes, I am eternally grateful to my parents and their money smarts πŸ™‚

  6. Wow, it sounds like you really did your homework! There's such a satisfying feeling in owning your own home, and you only get to buy your first one once. It's great your parents thought so far ahead on your behalf – that down payment is the biggest hurdle for most people. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you! Yes, my parents' forethought really helped push us over that down payment hurdle. And it is such a satisfying yet still surreal feeling to stand in my very own home.

  7. Oh my gosh, I so remember buying our first(and current) home. I think I had a mini nervous breakdown when we were in the final stages of getting financing…I ended up bursting into tears at a family supper IN A RESTARAUNT!!!
    Quilty Huggs,

    1. oh my goodness! I have been stressed but not quite there. though I have been known to worry aloud and break down in the most random of places, it's usually on the sidewalk or in the car lol

  8. Buying a home can be exasperating, but oh so wonderful at the same time! We always tell people to expect problems, a longer wait than planned on and more financial stress than they expected. But that day you get that key! When we closed on our house we took a trailer full of stuff to closing! Congrats on your home – it's so great you had the down payment money from investments. Good job parents!

  9. How exciting! I bought our first home 6 years ago and feels like yesterday! Congrats on the house. It sounds like you really did your homework and have a great house! Now it is time to start making it a home with many happy memories!

  10. Congratulations on your new home. My husband and I are just looking now and your time, dedication,and research give me hope that one day we will find our happy home too. Good luck to you.

    1. Good luck to you too! I started researching about a year out and I am so glad I put in that research time because I felt much more confident about the process than I initially thought I would.

  11. We are just barely starting to think buying a house would be better than renting any longer and it terrifies me. You have some good advice here. Congrats on the new house.

    1. It's not as scary to own as I thought it would be. I'm just so glad that I am paying myself (and the mortgage company) instead of just paying a landlord.

  12. That's amazing about your parent's stock investment. We've invested some for our children, which I hope they can use for their first home. Okay, they're only 9 and 11, but that's why you need to invest early, right! Congrats!

    1. That's exactly when you start investing for them! My folks invested that money from my grandparents when I was in elementary school (I think) and then all those years later I remembered it and was so happy to see that it had grown so much.

  13. Congratulations! I remember my first home well, it is so exciting. Sounds like you have wise parents and you have followed their example! You're doing all the right things financially.

  14. How wonderful! Buying a home is SO stressful. I've done it twice. I'm a renter now and don't think we would buy again, only because we're too busy to maintain a home – you know, lovingly. But your house? CUTE!! Congrats.

  15. I always say you can change anything you want if a house has a great foundation, and is the floor plan you love. Pink tiles can be painted for now, changed when money is available!
    I would shoot for at least two bathrooms in a house, it's just going to save aggravation for all!

    1. I agree on the two bathrooms. We got one with two πŸ˜‰ And yes, the location and house bones aren't easy to change but pink tile can be changed no problem.

  16. Hello Alice,

    Congrats on your new home! I remember when her sister and her husband bought their first home. Now, they are looking to buy again because they have outgrown their current one (they have 6 kids). She would show me the houses that she was looking at online. I must admit it was exciting.

    Your house is cute. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. Moving and house hunting is stressful but also so exciting! There is so much promise that comes with a new home and I get excited any time I move or a friend moves and I get to help them find a place, move, and decorate.

  17. Congrats on buying your first home! My husband and I are still working towards that goal, we'll get there! Your house is so adorable! Have fun decorating it! To me, that's the best part! πŸ™‚

    1. Good luck on your savings! Keep it up and when you know where you want to land you'll be in a good financial position πŸ™‚

    1. So exciting! I'm sure that every home has its own excitement, but I know we will always remember this home for its new experiences and memories.

  18. Congratulations on buying a home! Your first home that's super special and it is a lovely house. May it be filled with a lot of good memories and tons of warmth while being a place your friends and family feel welcomed. πŸ™‚

  19. I thought I had already commented on this post, if I'm doing it double times please know it's not intentionally.
    Congrats on buying your home. May it be filled with nothing but love. Make all the wonderful memories that only you all can make. Hopefully, you'll have a house warming party and fill it full of friends. (My Mom had one when she got her house, and it was a great day in our life, and we got so much stuff for the house it was unreal.)

    1. We had a housewarming party a couple weeks ago and it was great to have it filled with warmth and friends. We didn't get stuff because we don't need anything, except a fence and no one brought us wood planks even though I asked πŸ™‚

    1. I'm sure building is quite the adventure and lesson in patience! Friends of mine are building now and they are so excited to see each part get completed

    1. Thank you! We really didn't want to get stuck with too big of a payment since I have seen that sink people, and we want to stay afloat

  20. ooh, how exciting – congrats! We're still renting but as house prices in L.A. are probably comparable to those in DC, it's understandable why still still have not been able to buy. But still, a huge congrats again to you!

    1. Yeah, as soon as we moved out of DC and realized that buying was within our reach we were jumping for joy. The prices in DC and LA are nuts! Good luck to you!

  21. Congratulations! Buying a home is exciting and also totally stressful. We were lucky to have family help us with our down payment, but even so there's so much to do an sign and worry about.

    1. So, so many papers to sign! Glad you could have family help you out too. I like knowing that my Grandparents and my parents saved and invested to help us get here, so it feels like my family is here in the home with us.

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