Last weekend, my wife and I met with a real estate agent to initiate the first step of buying our first house! In the past, I have written about how we are in no hurry to purchase a house, take on a mortgage, and begin incurring all the extra expenses that we hear about from friends and family. But, we anticipate the home buying process to be a lengthy process for us as we carefully vet our options to find that perfect house. This article will be a different style and format that I have had in the past, because I would love to leave it open-ended for a discussion and hear from as many people as possible about this topic. So please, at the end, share your experience/story!
Advice we have received about buying a house to date
One thing I have learned about discussing buying a house with others is that they have no problem sharing their experience with you and trying to help you avoid their missteps. For some, they hold back their advice, let you describe your plan, and wait a while to share their friendly advice. For others, you mention the prospect of buying a house…and off they go! I love every second of it because I want to gather as much information about the process as possible before making what could be the largest financial decision of my life. Lanny and I often complain about the financial commitment of owning our cars on this website; but owning a house and the debt incurred dwarfs the financial commitment of owning a vehicle. It is partially why Lanny constantly debates whether or not he should use excess capital to pay down his mortgage faster or use the capital to invest in the market. It is that important of a commitment that you want to get it right!
To date, here are some of the nuggets of advice my wife and I have received so far:
- Rent for as long as possible, kick the can on home ownership, and save up as much as possible (Editor’s note after a comment from Big Al – I should have mentioned that I have a pretty affordable rent agreement. Definitely luck and a dribing factor for why I was told to rent as long as possible).
- Put as little money down as possible in the current interest rate environment
- When I asked someone how much money I should put down to gauge their perspective on the current interest rate environment, their response was to put as much-needed down to avoid PMI (private mortgage insurance). When I asked as a follow-up how much that person would put down if PMI were not in the equation, their response was zero dollars.
- You can change anything cosmetic about a house; however, you cannot change the location of your house. So make sure you are in love with the location.
Seeking your advice about buying a house
All of this is great advice and I will definitely be calculating to the penny the perfect down payment with all things considered (maybe a future article topic). But here’s why this article is different from articles I have written in the past. My conclusion is going to be open here and hopefully encourage participation from all of you! I mentioned earlier that I welcome all advice that I receive from family and friends in an effort to gather as much information as possible. But many of them, outside of Lanny of course, do not share the same personal finance savvy-iness, frugal mindedness, and mentality that all of us in the community share. I don’t know if all of us truly appreciate the sense of community we share online. We have all helped each other through various life choices by the sharing of knowledge and our past experiences. Whether it is sharing stocks on a watch list, reading about your debt reduction plan, how you are aiming to minimize your tax burden, or even just encouraging/pushing each other to strive for financial freedom…we are our best resource and there is a lot of knowledge to be shared here.
So for everyone out there in this community, I was hoping you would share some of your advice and experiences with me. It can be about your experiences as a first time homeowner or the purchaser of many different houses. Specifically, here are some topics I would love to get your opinion on. But please share other experiences outside of these questions.
- What mistakes would you avoid if you had the chance to purchase your first house all over again?
- What was your goal in deciding how much money you wanted to put down on your house? Avoiding PMI? Or were you willing to incur PMI if that meant that you put as little down as possible?
- When purchasing your house, did you buy a starter home or bypass to a larger house for your family to grow into? My wife and I are leaning towards the latter to avoid moving multiple times in a short period.
Thank you everyone…I cannot wait to read all of your responses and use your advice as my wife and I begin this wonderful process! We are looking to have this done by the end of 2017, so hopefully next year will be as much fun for us as it will be for Lanny.