I never dreamed that at 32, I would not only own a home, but own two. I’m going to put it out there that a lot of this was my husband’s doing. My husband has always been more frugal and me…well, let’s just say a Chanel purse is on bucket list.
My husband and I both very privileged and I try to remind ourselves of that everyday. We both come from more affluent families; my husband had no debt coming out of college; I had minimal college debt that I paid off before my husband and I got married. We both had good jobs. I wanted to write this so you had some context of my home buying experience. Many other people don’t have this experience. Many people won’t ever had this experience. It’s something to think about.
When my husband and I were searching for out first home, we were very frustrated with each other. This seems to be a re-occurring theme, since we also had our first big fight when we moved in together. Our Sacramento apartment was really great. It wasn’t brand new, but it was large 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with a balcony looking over the pool (that no one ever went into because it was freezing!). We would have bought that apartment if we could, but alas off we went into the home buying world.
My father-in-law and my mother were both real estate agents, so we knew what to focus on:
- Location and Layout
- Don’t look at minor details because those can be changed (i.e. paint, kitchen cabinets)
We narrowed our search down to Downtown, Midtown, Curtis Park, and Tahoe Park. Sacramento has many neighborhoods with “Park” in the name. 🙂 We were looking for a condo/town-home initially. It seemed like a natural move. It’s the next step before full home ownership.
As you can probably predict, we didn’t buy a condo/town-home and we didn’t buy a place in any of the neighborhoods I listed above. We bought a single family home in Upper Land Park, which as you can guess is above Land Park. This leads me to tip #1: Be Open. There are sometimes diamond in the rough neighborhoods that you may not realize were out there.
As I mentioned above my husband and I fought during the home buying process. Tip #2: Fighting is normal. I will mention that these were not violent or name calling fights (those are not okay). I was (and still am) more particular about where we live. I am a homebody and spent a lot of time at home (even pre-COVID). I need to make sure I felt at home in the house. I remember we looked at a home in East Sacramento (which is next to Midtown). It was larger in square footage than our apartment, but everything was compartmentalized. All the rooms felt small. We had a fight about my expectations since I turned it down. It did have the location, but not the layout. If you are buying a place on our own, you won’t have these problems, but if may also be good to have someone else’s perspective.
After about a month, my husband and I had two offers that were accepted and had to look at our lifestyle and what was the most important for us. The first house was a 2 bedroom 1 bath in an up and coming neighborhood. It was very under budget, but father away from town. The second home was a 3 bedroom 2 bath home with a larger yard and next to Downtown. It was 100k more expensive than the first home but still within budget. We ended up choosing the second home because we could walk/bike to the restaurants we were use to and my husband could still bike to work safely. Tip #3: Pay a little bit more to maintain your lifestyle. Unless you are going from big city life to small town life, you get use to what you like. In our scenario, we would have needed to buy another car to maintain that lifestyle.
What are you first home buying experiences? What do you wish you had focused on. Leave any tips in the comments!