Published by Annah Tucker
My first home buying experience started three years prior to signing on the dotted line.
My husband and I were not married yet, but we knew we wanted to have a wedding and buy a house soon. Like most millennials, we were very aware we would have to find a way to afford all those big price tags on our own.
GET TO WORK
I started small. First, I consolidated our finances into an online money managing tool to use for budgeting, savings, goals, etc. This gave us a “big picture” and we got to work right away on what needed attention most.
I began paying off small balances on debts we owed, started saving what we could, and kept a watchful eye on our credit scores. I also made a conscious effort to not apply for any new credit. Slowly but surely, we began to see our credit scores creep up to quality, loan eligible scores.
Helpful Hint: If there are any delinquent debts showing on your credit report, research the dates and if they are older than 7 years old you can write a letter to each credit bureau and request that information be removed.
The next hurdle: paying for a wedding.
In December 2014, my husband and I had a wonderful celebration with family and friends in a modest, rustic, outdoor country wedding in Driftwood, Texas. The only thing I would change about that day would be to wear my veil, which I realized I forgot as I was walking down the aisle to meet my husband. It was a great day and I would not change it for the world.
We all have obstacles to overcome. The best way to get through these is by prioritizing what is important to you and deciding the best route to get you there.
PACK THE PATIENCE
Fast forward eleven months and much sacrifice later, we decided to take a chance and apply for a home loan. To be honest, I never expected to get approved let alone get a good rate. To my surprise, the hard work paid off, and we were pre-approved for a loan and the fun could finally begin.
After weeks of searching and visiting homes, we found the one we loved, and things began to slow down. We were lucky, it only took a few days of negotiation for us and the seller to agree on the selling price.
Once the price was agreed upon, we could get to the most dreaded part the transaction: the funds needed up front to close the deal.
It was Christmas time, so we were lucky enough to earn Christmas bonuses that year, and we had to cash in my 401k. After reaching deep into our pockets, we were able to come up with the amount needed.
Then came the option period. This is an allotted number of days the buyer can terminate the contract for any given reason. The buyer is also required to provide the seller a non-refundable fee (option fee) to have this time for consideration.
The option period can be 1-10 days long, depending on different variables, with ours being 10 days. When you provide this option fee, it must be in the form of a cashier’s check.
When I provided our option fee, through our realtor, the seller left it on the bar in their home for 4 weeks and forgot about it. Then, the day before we are scheduled to close, I get a call from them asking for the option fee. (TALK ABOUT PANIC MOMENT!) I was at a loss because I knew I had provided it weeks ago but had no way of proving it besides the deduction from our bank account.
I highly recommend getting something in writing when exchanging funds during a real estate transaction, or any monetary transaction in general. The good news was the seller located the check and things continued as scheduled.
Everything comes to a head after the 30-day waiting period that occurs once all parties agree to the terms, and the option period expires. If you add it all up, it takes anywhere from 4-12 weeks to close on a house, which really isn’t that long but can feel like an eternity.
We closed on our home two years ago in February 2016, 3 months after applying for a loan.
ENJOY THE RIDE
From the beginning of this process, it is important to keep the small goals/objectives front of mind and constantly remind yourself of the end goal.
Yes, you will have to miss out on celebrating a friend’s birthday, skip a family vacation that year, or not buy that new car right now but in the end, the sacrifice will be worth it.
Rely on your partner, surround yourself with supportive, trustworthy people and enjoy the journey.