After much anticipation, I’ve finally taken the first steps toward buying my first house as of this weekend. Since I found out I got my promotion and raise about a month ago, I’ve known that the next step I wanted to take knowing my new income was to visit a bank and get a mortgage preapproval. I kept putting it off for some reason or another – either having too much to do on any given Saturday (the only day both D and I would be able to go in together that the bank was open), or fear of the whole thing in general. A few times over the past few weeks, I went to pick up the phone and give them a call to set something up and I’d work myself up into a nervous frenzy about it and decide not to.
Well, two weeks ago, I finally decided to go for it and I talked to a nice guy in the mortgage department at the bank we had chosen. It was the bank where we attended a first time home buying seminar about a year ago, and they had a really awesome first time homebuyers program that we wanted to get involved in. This particular program only requires an 11% down payment rather than the full 20% and has lots of other great benefits.
This past Saturday was the big day, and yes I was a ball of nerves. I had no idea what kind of rates we’d be looking at and how much we’d be told we could afford. The man we met with was very helpful and answered all the questions we had. I left my financial information with him and he told me he’d get back to me no later than Monday with the results, as he had to run through the applications, numbers, etc. I was kind of disappointed that I wouldn’t be getting my money answers right away, but relieved that the first step of this whole process was over with.
We came home and I started doing my usual Saturday things around the house: cleaning, making phone calls, checking up on things online, and D settled in with some NHL ’11 on the PS3. It had to have only been 2 or 3 hours later when I checked my phone and saw an email from the bank. I had my mortgage pre-approval, complete with some very promising numbers! We were approved for up to $400,000 with some wiggle room to go higher if needed. This was very exciting and I was so relieved to find out that we would be able to afford what will hopefully be a very nice house.
Sunday I woke up with no energy, until a thought occurred to me: we can go to open houses now that we know our budget! I mentioned this thought to D and we immediately got dressed and listed out 4 different addresses in the city we currently live that were having open houses that afternoon.
Interestingly, each house we saw was better than the one before it. However, none had everything we were looking for, but we weren’t going into this spur-of-the-moment open house expedition anticipating to find our dream home. Here’s what we found:
House #1 – This house was kind of a disaster, in that we didn’t even end up going inside the house. The street it was on was enough to drive us away. It was the most narrow one-laned two-way street of all time, located on a precarious hill and just driving up there and trying to park was giving me anxiety.
House #2 : A little better. This house was very claustrophobic though, and had a really odd attic space that they were using as kind of a closet. The finishes were nice – granite countertops, nice fixtures, new looking appliances. However, definitely was not for us, and later we found out that the house had been built in 1810(!), which really explained the narrowness and awkwardness inside.
House #3 : This was a split-level house with more room, but the layout really wasn’t doing it for me. Again, nice fixtures, etc. but not for us.
House #4 : This was the best one yet. It was very large (over 2000 square feet), had a big in-ground pool with patio and deck in the backyard, a semi-finished basement, and very big, upgraded kitchen. The downsides: the closets were absolutely tiny. I don’t think I could fit half my clothes in the master bedroom’s closet, let alone any of D’s stuff. There was also only 1.5 baths, and we’d ideally like 2 full. This house was very much getting close to what we were looking for, but the price was also very high.
Overall, I was encouraged to see what our money could get us, after years of imagining the worst (that I would have to settle for something old and falling apart because Massachusetts prices are ridiculous). The next step is to get a realtor and since my mother’s cousin is one, I’m going to try getting in contact with her and moving on from there. I can’t stop looking at all of the online listings now and I’m extremely excited for this process.
Do you own your own home? How long did it take you to find the house you ended up buying? If you’re not a homeowner yet, what’s one thing you couldn’t live without in a house?