3-Part Guide to Buying Your First Home: Part 3

FAMILY & HOME December 1, 2015


This is it— the end is in sight. In my previous two articles, I discussed what to prepare for and to expect the unexpected. Up next, you will get a glimpse of my final experience leading up to closing. My road was a long and winding path, parts of it treacherous, parts unpaved. There were times when I felt as if actually closing would be a Pyrrhic victory, one whose losses outweighed the reward. But I plowed through, and the result is that I made good decisions and I am happy. I learned that the struggle is worth it: you truly appreciate the things you have to work for.

If your offer has been accepted, your next step is to get an inspection. Some people choose not to get an inspection, but it’s the only thing protecting you from unforeseen damages or existing problems in the home. You can negotiate to have the problems fixed or you can walk away with no consequence.

After you get past any inspection concessions, the survey, and title searches, things move pretty quickly. Everyone wants to close. If you have never purchased a home before, my advice is to keep asking as many questions as you feel are necessary. You will receive approval to close confirmation and your attorney will schedule the closing within a few days. You’ll receive settlement papers within 24 hours of your closing.* These will explain what you owe at closing. My settlement documents were sent to me an hour and a half before closing. I was nervous not having an idea of what I needed, but luckily it was reasonable and I still had time to get to the bank.

At closing you are very overwhelmed. There are tons of papers to sign. Generally, if you have a good attorney he will review each document with you. Read over everything anyway. Make sure that all the numbers add up correctly. I have heard horror stories about closings so I was so nervous. You are also signing your life away for hundreds of thousands dollars worth of a loan. But if you go into it with your eyes open, your mind clear, and an idea of what will work best for you, it’s one of the most exhilarating and rewarding goals you can accomplish.

Now you have your keys -- those “precious” keys. So after you get those keys in your hand, what do you do? I had all of these plans and ideas, and then I realized that they all cost money and time -- lots of both. I didn’t need to do a ton of work on my house, so I went through each room one at a time, thought about what I wanted to do, then calculated the expense for each room. I then determined what priority number one was. I was so eager to move in. I knew that I was going to remodel the kitchen but did not realize that the dust gets EVERYWHERE. But it’s new and exciting and you pretty quickly get over the inconvenience of having to use paper plates for takeout because you don’t have a kitchen.

I ended up needing to paint everything (The walls, doors and trim were dirty-ick!) Factoring in the amount of stuff I needed, I had to throw my pride out the window and make some deals. I am not above haggling or at least asking, “Is this the best you can do?” I was able to purchase a sink that I wanted at one store because I asked if they would honor another store’s deep discount. I also closed right before Labor Day when there are lots of sales on items like paint, which I took full advantage of. Bottom line is that it doesn’t hurt to ask for a deal or to see if there is something extra they can take off the price – 9 times out of 10 they want your business and will offer something.

Make sure you research what you are buying. Check out choices both in stores and online. I was ready to settle for a $98 sink because I thought they were all the same until I read some reviews. I then decided it was prudent to research a bit further. I discovered that sinks have different gauges and the faucets need to be made out of certain materials to be of the best quality. I ended up shelling out slightly more than I wanted to, but the benefit is that I will not have to replace these fixtures anytime soon. I referenced This Old House, which has credible tips and expert advice

I also needed to buy some new furniture. Again, keep in mind that these things cost lots of money and it adds up quickly. I was fortunate enough to get some lamps and tables from friends and family. That’s a great part about buying a home, too. People are excited for you. They want to help you and they want to give you things. I think of it as a special piece of someone that has worked its way into my home and that is comforting. I have odds and ends that have been sent to me with love and good wishes and they are peppered all over my house-- and it makes that house a warm and happy home.

So that is where I am. Some say you are always working on your house— there’s always something to fix. But I am confident that with the help I have been receiving from family and friends that it won’t be so bad. The hard part is over and hopefully I won’t have to move for a long time. I already have so many memories and I have only had my house for a few weeks. Maybe these tips will help anyone who is planning on buying a home, maybe not. But you can’t deny that it’s an unexpected journey.

*As of October 3rd, new regulations went into effect requiring closing disclosures be provided 3 days prior to closing date.

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