I’ve mentioned before that I bought my first home at 21, barely able to celebrate with a glass of bubbly. I’ve learned so much ten years and six homes later. Man, there are so many things I wish I knew back then. Here’s what I would tell my younger, first time homebuyer self:
I know you want your dream house right this minute. But it’s not time. You won’t appreciate it now anyway. Trust me. You haven’t come into your own yet and it’s way more fun to experiment with design, colors, and landscaping now before you get to the forever house. You’ll think that bright teal paint that reminds you of your honeymoon is fantastic. It isn’t. You’ll soon realize this first time homebuyer process isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s going to feel really intrusive providing all of these financial documents and you’re going to spend so much time organizing paperwork and going through the application process that it will start to suck the fun out of actually shopping for a home. You won’t let it though, will you? Don’t buy the first one you see. Please promise me you’ll keep looking. No, that neighborhood is not OK. You will not be safe going around the corner for a late night ice cream craving. Save, save, save until you find the location that you want. It’s true what everyone tells you about location. The rest can be changed. So that’s the fun part. Don’t buy something completely done. If you play your cards right this could be the first great investment you make in your life. You don’t know it yet, but your husband’s pretty handy. He doesn’t know it yet either. But you two will be making memories and breaking down walls together in no time. Don’t listen to everyone. They all will have their opinions about where you should live, which kind of house you should buy and how much you should pay for it. Keep an ear open, but listen to your gut. You know more than you think you do and at the end of the day, this is where you will live and no one else. And don’t stress about not having money for furniture right away. Your grandparents will come over to help hang shelves. They will be so crooked the picture frames slide off. When Grandpa declares “good enough for who it’s for”, he’s right. Stop crying in the bathroom and enjoy the moment. They’re perfect. Please consider buying a duplex. Listen, I know you don’t want to share walls and you don’t think it counts as your first house, but it does, it really does! The rent you’ll get from the other side will help pay your mortgage and you could keep it as an investment property and move on up in a few years. Will you at least consider it? Lastly, I am so proud of you. You have no idea what an incredible achievement this is. Celebrate it! This is something not everyone gets to experience and you worked really hard to earn it. Kiss your husband and enjoy a sushi date night together. I know you can’t afford it right now, but just this once. It’s the start of something truly beautiful.