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20 Aug

top 5 tips for serious first-time home buyers!

welcome to our first of many #TrippOasis home series! in this series we will be documenting our home buying/building process, our tips and tricks for first-timers from our own experiences, and of course home decor/interior design! if there’s any topic you’d like to see covered specifically, please leave a comment with suggestions below.

last year, robbie and i decided that 2018 would be the year we would buy a home {read more about our decision to move here}. we are at a point in our lives and careers that renting a one bedroom apartment just didn’t seem to fit anymore. however, we definitely didn’t think we would be building a home! sometimes the home-buying path leads you down a winding road of ups and downs. we are first-time home buyers so we had a lot to learn. so much research, thought, trial and error, and prayer went into our decision, so today we wanted to share with you our top five tips for beginning the home-buying process from our own personal experience.

long before we were actually ready to buy a home, we would go look at model homes in new developments {or even just homes we thought we could afford here in the Bay for sale} to get an idea of what we wanted. it was always fun to see how the models were decorated, and robbie and i really enjoyed ‘just looking.’ i definitely suggest doing this because it’s fun to see what your future home could look like and what your style is. the below tips are for serious first-time home buyers, but even if you’re not quite there yet, have some fun on the weekends by looking at models homes in your area to get an idea!

1. save, save, save

if you’re serious about buying a home, you’re probably already doing this step! writing the check for a downpayment will be the biggest check we’ve ever written, as it is for most people. saving for a home isn’t necessarily easy, but such an important sacrifice for your future. sure it’s been difficult to put a big pause on designer purchases but it’s easier when i remember that i’m doing it for our future. we’ve been saving for about a year, and luckily since our home won’t be done until March of next year we get even more time to save, save, save! the more money you put towards your down payment, the less your monthly mortgage will be AND the less interest you’ll have to pay over time. if you haven’t already done so, start saving ASAP!

2. deciding what you need

our home is going to be 3,000 square feet. to put that into perspective, we currently live in 750 sq. ft… so that’s a lot more room! before we seriously started looking, we calculated how many rooms we wanted based on our needs for living and working from home. we knew we both wanted our own offices, a future nursery, and a guest room. so we were able to determine early on that we needed at least a four bedroom. it’s important to decide exactly what you’re looking for, as it helps narrow down your search.

3. get pre-approved

this is the biggest, scariest step if you’re a serious first-timer!!! i feel like this was the intimidating adult thing we had to do to make our home-buying process a reality. being self-employed was a bit tricky, as you have to show proof of income from the last two years of your current job. while we’ve always had a steady income, we weren’t making a full-time income off of SRL until 2017. so it left us in a weird spot because we couldn’t use Robbie’s former job to show our income in 2016 before because he was no longer employed there. however, because you link your bank account to the loan company’s site when you apply, they could see we had very little debt {just one car payment}, a good chunk of savings in our account, and were consistently depositing money from our work. we definitely had to take extra steps because of self-employment, but it wasn’t too bad and nothing we had to sweat about. we originally applied for a loan with Quicken Loans {highly recommend!} which we were approved for, but our loan will actually be through our home builders simply because they were offering a discount if we went through them. home builders typically do this as an incentive to buy and it worked for us! you can also get a loan through your bank {we looked into Chase home loans as well}, but just be sure to do your research on interest rates. i’m happy to answer more questions about the pre-approval process as first-timers if you want to leave a comment below or email me!

4. set a budget, stick to it

once you’re pre-approved for a home, you’ll have your budget set since you’ll know how big of a loan you qualify for. there’s a bit of wiggle room with this, but in all reality just don’t look at houses that are above your budget. we did that a few times, i fell in love with them of course, then you get frustrated and sad you can’t have them, and we quickly learned that’s not the way to go. keep looking! you’ll find your dream home within your budget! it may take months, but it’s possible.

5. make a list of needs and a list of wants

this was a tip i read from Jacey’s blog post here. she isn’t a first-timer and i’ve loved reading her home-buying tips as they begin their renovations on a new home. robbie and i made a list of our needs and our wants. each home we looked at had to have our needs to be a true contender. if they also had our wants, bonus! but those wants weren’t a make or break situation. for example, i really want a pool. but that’s still a want, not a need {but maybe in AZ it really should be a need though haha}. buying a home with a pool costs more, so during our hunt we looked at a lot of homes without one! luckily, because we are building on our own home and our lot has a spacious backyard, we can install one in the future, but it’s still a want and something we will save for if we decide to put one in after our home is finished.

our lot!

can’t wait for a future tub!