My Friend’s Experience With Buying A House During The Housing Bust

Recently, I asked my friend who recently bought a house just outside of Atlanta, to share her experience with buying a house as a first time homeowner during a time when people are generally scared to buy or sell their home. Here is her truthful, insightful account of buying their first house.

My husband and I just bought our first home about a month ago. Prior to putting in a bid, we had not planned on owning a home for another two years, but since our rent was going up another $100 if we were to resign, we decided to consider a lease-purchase home. When my husband, our realtor (my husband’s sister), and I went to look at some lease-purchases, we ended up looking at a few homes that were for sale as well. And of course we fell in love with one of these homes!

After crunching some numbers, we calculated that we would not be spending much more on the house than we already were for our apartment. And when we considered the tax break we would be getting, the amount we would be paying in housing would be approximately the same.

After about a week’s worth of negotiating, we finally were under contract. Everything went very smoothly from there. We had absolutely no problem getting a loan approved, and the previous owners made all of the requested repairs that came out of the home inspection. Closing was not nearly as long as I expected it to be…the only bad thing was that we forgot to bring the cashier’s check for our down payment…oops!

But it all worked out just fine, and now we are homeowners! The thing we love the most about homeownership is the privacy. I felt as though I was always surrounded by people (strangers even) when we lived in the apartment, and there was no escaping them. Now we have our own place where we can really get away from everything and everyone.

I would not change a thing from our experience. I feel that we were pretty lucky with how things worked out and how we easily found the right place at the right price for us. We were also fortunate to have my husband’s sister as our realtor. It was good to have someone we could trust and could walk us through every step.

Here are four things you can learn from their experience as first-time home buyers:

  1. They ran the numbers and made sure that buying a house would be financially better than renting. Sometimes, buying isn’t always the best financial decision to make. Both of them work full-time and make great incomes, so it was a no-brainer.
  2. They had a down payment. The days are over when unproven borrowers can walk in and get 100% financing.
  3. They took advantage of a buyer’s market. They asked for what they wanted from the seller, and the seller did it. You can’t be ridiculous, but don’t settle for unrepaired damages or paying exorbitant closing costs. You’re doing the seller a favor just by showing interest in buying the property. You don’t have to be a jerk and milk them for every little thing, but make sure you’re getting what you deserve.
  4. They surrounded themselves with people they trust. Use a real estate agent you know and trust. It’s even better if you know an attorney who can close the loan and/or a mortgage broker that can help you get financing.

Let this be encouragement to you that buying or selling a house doesn’t have to be dictated by what the market is doing. Adapt to the market conditions and go forward with your plans to buy or sell. Don’t be scared. Real estate is a great investment. If you try to time the real estate market, you’ll get burned just the same way as if you try to time the stock market. It doesn’t work. So, understand the conditions, and go from there.

  • JB

    We close on our house next week. I think you’re right… you don’t want to try and time the market too much because you will get burned… but at the same time you do want to take advantage of a buyer’s market if you’re looking to buy in the near future.

  • Dennis The Menace

    At some point the worm must turn as it were. Household formation increases by at least 1% per year or more. The employment situation does not help matters. But rents are increasing at a good clip so the advantages of owning may force the hand of many undecided buyers. Like those talked about in the post above.