6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought a House
I bought my first house when I was 24. And while I thought I was prepared at the time (I wasn’t), I quickly learned that both buying a home and owning one are much more complicated than they seem.
That’s not to say they’re difficult by any means, but those picture-perfect HGTV experiences you’re used to seeing? That’s probably not what you’re going to get when you buy that first house.
There will be hiccups, you’ll get your hands dirty, and you’ll feel your way through it — hopefully with a few good stories to tell.
Are you preparing to buy that first house in the near future?
Here’s what I wish I knew before I bought a house all those years ago
1. There are lots of costs you don’t think about.
It’s easy to just worry about your down payment. After all, it’s probably your biggest cost as a homebuyer. But the only one? Definitely not. Closing costs are also a pretty good chunk of change, and you might experience some sticker shock when you see it all tallied up.
There are also costs for moving, furnishing your house (you’ll need quite a bit if you’re going from a small apartment to a full home!), and tons of other expenses in between.
Finally, once you’re all in and settled, there are still more costs: Utilities, lawn care, maintenance (those air filters won’t change themselves), and repairs. No matter how new your home is, repairs are always going to crop up, so make sure you have a good emergency stash ready just in case.
2. Repainting isn’t as simple a fix as you think.
When I toured my current house a few years ago, I fell in love — with everything but the walls. The previous homeowner had painted most of the rooms in weird patterns, bright colors, and in ways that just didn’t jive with my personal preferences or aesthetic.
“Easy fix,” I thought. “I can just repaint.” Little did I know, painting several full rooms — as well as several hard-to-reach areas on the ceilings — isn’t simple, nor quick. I ended up having to hire a contractor to do most of the work (for a pretty penny, too).
3. Getting your offer accepted is just the first step.
It’s pretty exciting when a seller accepts your offer and you’ve got a signed and sealed contract on the table. Unfortunately, the journey is far from over at this point, and there’s still a long way to go before you’re a bona fide homeowner.
You still have to get through the mortgage process (and all the documentation and back-and-forth it comes with), your home still has to be inspected and appraised, and there may even be more negotiations if there are issues with that inspection or appraisal. Consider the contract the first rung on the ladder and gear up for quite a few more.
4. There’s a lot of hands-on work.
Homeownership isn’t for the faint of heart. Cleaning a full-sized home is much more time-consuming and backbreaking than a small apartment, and there are a lot more repairs and maintenance you have to do, too (after all, there’s no landlord to call this time around).
Though you certainly don’t have to do everything yourself, DIYing most fixes is going to be the most economical option. If you farm it out, expect to put in a little work researching, vetting contractors, and getting estimates.
5. Cleaning your windows is a big job after you’ve bought a house.
In a small rental, you probably only had a handful of windows, if that. Just a simple wipe-down every once in a while would do the trick, and you’d be done with the task in a matter of minutes.
As a homeowner, the job gets significantly bigger. In my current home, we have over 20 windows across the property — many of them double-paned. When you tally up cleaning both panes — inside and outside — as well as wiping down the tracks, you’ve got quite the day ahead of you. Windows on the second story are even more problematic (and the No. 1 reason I hire a company to come do it for me annually).
6. Storage space is at a premium, so use it wisely.
You might think all those closets are going to change your life, but a year into your stint as a homeowner, and you’ll be wondering why you don’t have more.
It’s true: Storage space fills up quick. This is especially obvious after a few holidays in the home when you’ve had to find spots for Christmas trees, Easter baskets, and countless birthday presents and other items.
My best advice is to invest in a good garage storage system — something along the walls (we have big industrial shelves) or one up above that saves you on floor space. A few years from now, you’ll be glad you did.
Buying your first house?
If you’re planning to buy your first house, get in touch with an Embrace Home Loans officer in your area today. We’ll make sure you’re on the right track from the start.