Home. It’s a four-letter word that encompasses so much for so many. Everyone defines it differently. For some, home is, like the old adage says, “where the heart is.” Others believe home is wherever family and friends gather. Still, others identify home as a physical dwelling they return to each day. However you describe it, home is important, and we all hope it will be a place of safety, solace and serenity. These are the things that come to mind when you’re buying your first home. It takes more than hope, though, to find the right property for you and your family. I’m putting my interior designer and real estate developer hats on to help you avoid making a few common mistakes along the way!
Prioritize Preferences, Not Perfection
Taking the step to become a first time homeowner is huge! On my discovery+ show, The House My Wedding Bought, I walked several couples through the process of finding the home of their dreams while planning the wedding of their dreams. Each couple wanted something different in a house, and sometimes it seemed almost impossible. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when YOU are home searching. One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to home buyers is don’t look for perfection. It’s easy to get caught up in the picture you’ve always held in your mind about the home you’d buy one day. Now’s the time to shift the focus onto the aspects of your home that matter most.
Identify your non-negotiables. When you’re buying your first home, you will likely view lots of houses. Most of them will have something that isn’t exactly your style. Maybe the countertops are the wrong material or color. The house might have carpet when you’re a fan of hardwood flooring. But, an outdated backsplash or unattractive cabinet handles aren’t a reason to write off a house that otherwise checks all your boxes.
First Things First
Remember, you can always wait a few years and redesign your kitchen or get those floors you’ve always wanted. What you can’t change is the neighborhood or the layout of the home. Consider the major factors that are often permanent. Is your home in an area with a good school district? Are you in close proximity to the places you frequent? These things are worth a yes or no vote. Don’t discount a house because of features that can be modified. I always tell people that part of the fun is in creating the space you’ll live in together as you grow. Every part of your home doesn’t have to be flawless upon move-in. Select the house with good bones and great potential. You’ll be happier with your purchase in the long term if you do.
Let’s be real. Nobody likes to talk about money. If you’re buying your first home, determining the budget should be one of the first things you do. It will help you remain realistic as you search. Have conversations about what you’re willing to spend on a home, as well as what will be comfortable. Many people plan based on what they believe they can afford on the top line. They assess the down payment and the monthly mortgage, but that’s not all you should be thinking about. Unexpected circumstances happen to the best of us. People lose jobs. Medical emergencies arise. Don’t enter into a bad decision simply because you want “more” in a house. Don’t get in over your head with bills. Set yourself up for success by being pragmatic when it comes to the financial aspect of buying a home.
Invest In Sync
Buying your first home is something to celebrate. So much about the process can be stressful, do your best not to add to that. My advice is to be truly united in this significant investment. Don’t fixate on who supplies more money or how it all came to be. You’re making this investment together. Whether it’s a small condo or a multi-million dollar house, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not just buying a property. You’re creating the life that you will live inside of it. If you begin the home buying journey on the same page, you will be that much closer to achieving the goal at hand.
Ultimately, when you’re buying your first home, you are making the decision to begin a bright future together. It’s an exciting time, but also a serious one. If you make wise choices and keep the important aspects in perspective and on the horizon, you’ll be successful. Don’t make these mistakes if you don’t have to! Happy house hunting!