Buying a home in your 20’s might seem crazy to some people, but for my husband and I it was the perfect plan. It was a couple months before our wedding and we were comparing all the living options in our area. Between looking at apartments and other rental properties, we decided to look into buying a house. And by “look into buying a house” I mean browsing the Zillow app having no idea where to start or what our budget should be.
I feel like a lot of young adults have these same intimidating feelings when thinking about buying a house in their 20’s. They either want to wait until they’re married, have a more secure career, etc. (not bad ideas) before looking to buy a house. Or they value low-maintenance lifestyles and owning a home usually doesn’t fit that style of living as all maintenance responsibilities fall to the homeowner.
While we were looking for a house we found one that we both agreed would be a perfect starter home – so we spontaneously called a realtor to go take a look. We instantly knew it was the house for us! Most people look at more than one house when house hunting but something about this house just felt so right, no question about it. The next week was full of inspections, negotiations and paperwork. The entire process took about 6 weeks and we closed on our house a month before our wedding! When buying a home in your 20’s (my husband and I were both 20 when we bought our house!) here are some things to consider:
Build Up Your Credit Before
How to build your credit is a whole other blog post, but I’ll give you a summary. 😉 When I started college I decided to start building up credit by opening a credit account at Best Buy to purchase a laptop for college. By paying off the laptop within the 12 months of no interest, I was able to build credit. My husband built his credit by paying payments on his vehicle. The bank also took into consideration the bills we had in our names (phone plan, etc.). If you haven’t already starting building credit I suggest you start NOW! I love shopping so I limited myself to getting a Best Buy card and I ensured the card could ONLY be used at Best Buy (so I wouldn’t be tempted to go on a clothing shopping spree).
Know Where You Want to Live Before Buying a House
When we were planning our wedding and looking for a place to live, I still had two years left of college so we knew we would be staying in the area for at least the next two years. We also had no reason to be in a hurry to leave this area – all our friends and family live here! It’s so important when buying a house to understand the level of commitment to that location. You won’t be able to move quickly and the days of having a 12 month lease are over. Make sure you plan to stay in the area for at least 3-5 years before considering buying a home.
Buy a House Within Your Means
If you’ve never looked at houses before or talked with a realtor or bank it’s hard to understand how much the monthly payment will be on different mortgages. And it’s especially important to factor homeowners insurance, HOA fees, maintenance and taxes into your budget. Here’s a great calculator to help determine what you can afford when buying a house.
Save For a Down Payment
I didn’t realize how important a down payment was until we were in the process of being approved for a loan. Since this was our first time buying, we had no equity to utilize so our down payment came solely from savings. Having money to put down on a house lowers the amount you have to borrow from the bank, also lowering your monthly payment.
Do Your Homework
Know the location. Drive by the house during different times of day. Is there a lot of traffic during the afternoon? Pay attention to the news. Is there any crime or break-ins? See if you know anyone who lives in the neighborhood and ask them their opinion. You want to make sure you’ve checked everything before committing to buying a house, because once you sign the papers (and trust me, it’s a LOT of paperwork) there’s no going back!
Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage
This step might be the most important! And of course it’s the one we skipped when buying our home, mainly because we had no idea where to begin or if owning a home was even an option for us. Typically, before you call a realtor to go look at a house you’ll want to contact your bank and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Talking with your bank first can help you decide on a price range as well as ensure you aren’t wasting anyone’s time by looking at houses you could never afford. This will also send the realtor the message that you are serious about buying a house and it will save time in the process and help you secure the house you really want.
It’s now been 2 years since we bought our house, and I couldn’t be more thankful we took the leap into home ownership! If you have any questions about buying a house, please email me or leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!