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Monday, July 31, 2017

My Experience as a First Time Homebuyer

Buying a house has been a long-time goal of mine and I'm excited to announce that I now have the keys to my very own house!

Here are the things I did years before I was ready to buy a house.

1. Lived in the city, got familiar with the different parts of town, figured out where I felt most comfortable.

2. Paid off my debt.  Credit card debt, car debt, student loans.  At the time I bought my house, I had no debt.

3. Saved.  Every new year I make a list of about 3-5 resolutions and the last several years, the resolutions have included Save $___/month.

4. Set up a personal timeline.  I've known for the last few years that my moving date would be August of 2017.

5. Get familiar with the market.  For probably the last year, every day I looked at houses available through Trulia, Zillow, Realtor, etc.

6. Pray.  This is #6 on the list - but it's truly the most important thing.  For one year prior to my expected move date, I prayed specifically for God to lead me to a house perfect for me.  For 2017 I chose Deuteronomy 31:8 as my theme verse and I prayed that scripture over and over again throughout the process and I saw it come to life.

7. I made a list of what I wanted.  Here is my must-have list:

NW Wichita
3 bed
2 bath
Large bathtub
Wood/wood laminate floors
Updated kitchen
Updated baths
Fenced yard
Outdoor living space
Garage with remote

Under that list I included a wish-list.  For me, this really helped focus me.  For one thing, I didn't look at houses with only 1 bathroom or without a basement - which saved me from getting worn out by the process.  Another way it helped was not to let me get swayed by a cool feature of a house (wow - granite counter tops, cool, this house has really pretty landscaping) - I looked back at my must have list and found those weren't on it!  I'm very happy to say the house I bought has everything on my list - the only thing sacrificed was 1/2 bath.  

The first thing I did, when I was ready to buy a house is to contact my bank, in hopes of getting an idea of what price range I should be looking in and getting a pre-approval letter.  

When it was time to start looking - people I talked to say it takes 2-3 months, so I started mid-May - I asked friends for recommendations of realtors.  

Since I knew exactly what I wanted - I only looked at two houses in person and I put an offer in on both houses - which kind of cracks me up!  

The first house I found was nothing like what I thought I wanted - it was a quad-level.  Fully carpeted.  Extremely open floor plan.  But I loved it and I could picture myself living there.  And it had a greenhouse, which I loved! 

The things I didn't love - the cabinets were painted dark brown, and I really wanted white.  The floor was carpeted and I really wanted hardwood.  The yard wasn't fenced.  And there was no dedicated storage.

The thing that bothered me most was that a house next door looked rundown, their fence was falling down into my yard.  There were piles of garbage bags under their carport.  I looked up property records and discovered it is a rental house.  I knocked on doors in the neighborhood but couldn't really get any information.  I drove by at different times throughout the day.  I loved the house but I really wrestled with the decision.  I had an impression that the neighborhood wasn't as safe or nice as I really wanted.  I finally decided that a wooden fence would make me feel more secure.  So my realtor and I wrote the contract on Sunday afternoon and included that the Seller would put up a fence around the backyard.

The next day (Monday) around noon that the Seller received two offers and decided to take the other one.  I was disappointed, but I truly felt like God was closing a door.  I felt he was going before me and protecting me.  A lot of friends at work shared stories of how they lost a house and then found one much better - which I found comforting.  

Monday night I drove by several houses that were listed and had potential.  Across the street from a house listed (that I hadn't really considered previously because it had one bathroom and no bathtub) I saw that a for sale by owner sign had been put in the yard.  (I later found it had been put in the yard on Saturday).  

I got the number and went home to search online.  The pictures posted were from a prior listing but they were GORGEOUS.  My realtor contacted the Seller and we went to look at it the next day (Tuesday) after work.  In person, full of furniture, the house looked a little smaller and less gorgeous.  But I really liked it.  I asked if I could look at it one more time, and get the opinions of my mom and sister.  We went at 8 the next morning (Wednesday).  My family was very positive and when I went back to my must have list - I realized it had nearly everything I wanted (except 1.5 bathrooms instead of 2).  The neighborhood felt much safer.  I talked to my realtor and we put an offer in.  We also knew that another Buyer had looked at the house twice already and may be putting in an offer.  When I left work that day, I texted my realtor and asked if it was a bad sign we hadn't heard anything yet.  She said don't worry yet.  At around 7 that night we heard that the Seller was planning to accept my offer.  Around 11 that night - I actually got the signed contract.

At this point people would ask me if I was excited and I wasn't - I just felt like the process is so fragile - the whole thing could fall apart at any moment.

Next up was the inspection.  I was so nervous - but God went before me.  The inspector said it was actually really good results.  He found only a few things that concerned me and the Seller agreed to fix them.

Then the appraisal ordered by the bank.  Again, I was nervous, but God went before me.  The appraised value was the exact same as the purchase price.

At this point my other sister visited town and I drove her past my new house and she noticed that the garage doors had a design of a shield and cross.  It was actually really hard to see but I felt it was an amazing confirmation that God had gone before me and put a seal on my doors as a reminder that He had gone before me and prepared a place for me.

Closing got pushed back a few days, but everything went smoothly.

As of today...I own a house.  I'm so thankful and excited!

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