My husband and I were 23 when we bought our first (and current) house. Our real estate agent said she normally doesn’t work with first time home buyers this young. We knew what we wanted and were ready to make a commitment when it came to buying a house. It seems like people are waiting longer and longer to get married, purchase a home and start families. Not everyone has the same priorities and maybe you are young and want to buy a house. Buying a house at a young age isn’t easy but it can be done. Here are a few tips for buying a home at a young age.
1. Educate Yourself
First and foremost you need to understand how the home buying process works. Do you understand how a mortgage works? Do you know what private mortgage insurance is? How is your financial situation? Do you have a good credit score? You need to understand the basics of home buying before you start house hunting. Why? It’s simple: So you don’t mess up! You need to understand exactly what you are signing up for when you buy a house. Buying a home is a huge commitment. As a young adult, you need to understand how the process works.
2. Set your priorities
Buying a house can be a little overwhelming especially if you are young and on a tight budget. We learned that house hunting is all about priorities. As a young homebuyer who is likely on a tight budget it’s safe to say that you probably be making a few concessions. You will need to ask yourself: What do you really, really want your house to have? You may not know the answer to this question right away. We had to look at a handful of houses before we knew our answer.
For us the answer was location. Location was a key factor in our house hunt. It wasn’t until we looked at a few houses outside our preferred city that we realized how important location was to us. Living in this particular city however did mean higher home prices. Higher home prices meant we couldn’t afford as nice of a house had we moved to a different city. We were okay with this and decided to adjust our expectations so we could live in the desired location. This meant smaller houses and/or houses that needed more renovations.
3. Think long-term when buying a house
If you are young and buying your first house, spend some time thinking about your future. Make sure that you can live comfortably at your first house for a few years. Our mortgage counselor told us that people typically live in their houses an average of 5-7 years before moving. Do you have a stable job or will your job require you to relocate? Do you know where you want to live for the next few years? Is there a chance you will need to move? Do you want to start a family soon? Will there be enough space in the house? Is the house in a good school district? These are all important questions to ask yourself when you are thinking about buying your first house at a young age.
The reason you want to be able to stay put for a few years is that selling a house and moving is not cheap. It’s important that you’ll be comfortable in your first house for a few years and won’t want to move right away.
4. First home not the dream home
If you want to buy a house while you are young, let’s be honest, you probably won’t be purchasing your “dream” home. It won’t be a perfect house. There will likely be parts of the house that need updating or fixing up. It’s okay. Nobody said that you should be buying your dream home at a young age. Just be excited that you are house hunting and be ready to make some compromises. You have your whole life ahead of you to get the dream house! I know I would love some marble countertops myself, but the laminate will just have to do for now!
We have several rooms in our house that we would like to update including the kitchen and two bathrooms. However, this type of work is very expensive and we probably won’t get to it for a few years. That’s okay. The house is safe and functional and this is what is really important. As a first time homebuyer, you have to be ready to make these compromises.
5. Build an emergency fund
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since my husband and I bought our first house nearly two years ago, it’s that houses require maintenance. Maintenance isn’t cheap. As a young, first-time house hunter, make sure you have a good emergency fund established when you buy your first home. Things break and need repairs. In our first year, we had to buff and coat our wood floors (the floors were in really bad shape by the time we moved in) and we replaced the washer and dryer. Not cheap! This was in addition to buying things we needed as new homeowners like a lawnmower and all sorts of other things that add up quickly! The point is, make sure you have cash set aside for house emergencies. They will happen and you will need to spend money maintaining your home. The sooner you can start that emergency fund, the better!
What do you wish you would have done differently when you purchased your first home? What is your advice for young, first-time home owners?
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