If last year’s home buying frenzy — with its bidding wars, escalator clauses and potential buyers lined up Gold Rush-style for open houses — scared you out of the market, two recent first-time buyers have some good news for you.
Yes, you can navigate the intricacies of buying your first home. But keep in mind that oh-so-practical Girl Scout motto: Be prepared.
These steps include thinking about what you really want in a home — and can afford — lining up financing, and talking to other homeowners to find recommendations for a real estate agent.
“When we found the house we wanted, it was so easy,” said Brianne Hebert, who bought a home in Lake Stevens with her partner Remington Rohrer.
Their real estate agent and lender kept in constant contact, she said. “For first-time home buyers who didn’t know the terminology and didn’t know how fast or slow the process was, they held our hands and it couldn’t have been easier.”
Hebert said she had heard all the home buying horror stories, stocked in part by the rapid rise in last year’s home prices.
“Not a thing went wrong,” she said. Rohrer spotted a house the day it went on the market.
The next day, a Saturday, their real estate agent, Barb Lamoureux, met them at the open house for a walk through.
She outlined step-by-step what to expect, how it compared with other homes in the area, and her assessment of the home.
That evening, Hebert and Rohrer drew up an offer but wanted to think about it overnight. When they awoke Sunday morning, they knew it was the right home for them.
By Sunday evening, their offer had been accepted. They closed in January.
Hebert, 34, who works as a project data management specialist at Boeing Co. and Rohrer, 29, an accountant, had been renting near Snohomish. “We have a 2-year-old,” Hebert said of their decision to buy. “It was time to put down our roots.”
Among the things that appealed to them was the house was built on a half acre of land, so it offered privacy, but it was five minutes from a grocery store.
Its 1,600 square feet was “exactly what we wanted,” Hebert said. “We wanted something we can enjoy and not spend every waking minute cleaning.”
Its three bedrooms provide a place for family members to stay when they visit. The back yard is fenced and it includes a hot tub.
“It’s a wonderful home and the perfect location,” Hebert said. “We absolutely love our home.”
Bradi Carpenter, 25, a teacher in the Mukilteo School District, bought her first home after looking for about two months.
Part of her decision to buy was based on simple economics. She was spending $1,650 a month on rent. By buying a home, she said she saves $500 a month on housing costs.
Even so, she found the idea of having to make an offer quickly daunting. She put in one offer on a house, but it wasn’t accepted. “Every time after that was like, ‘Do I have to make an offer now?’”
Carpenter said she’s not one to make decisions quickly. “Knowing I had to make a decision when I just met the house was terrifying.”
But those feelings were offset when she pulled up to the north Everett house she eventually would buy, built in 1904.
“There were other people there and I said, ‘Those people are in my house.’ I just knew this was it; I’m going to make it work.”
She moved in early last year. The home is petite — just 450 square feet. “I picked a very unusual house that not many people wanted,” she said.
Even she admits there’s not a lot of space. Carpenter said she wishes she would have followed the advice of the icon of declutter, Marie Kondo, before she moved.
“I had to get really creative with storage space,” she said. She taped all the furniture measurements to the floor.
When someone questioned whether her couch would fit, she responded: “Oh watch, I’ll do it!”
“Now I know my money is going for something positive for myself, rather than just handing my money to someone else.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is some advice from two first-time home buyers from Snohomish County:
Make a list of your needs and wants before you start home shopping. That includes things such as its location and number of bedrooms.
Choose your home-buying team. Talk to several real estate agents and lenders before you decide who you want to do business with. “It really came down to “Who do we trust?” and “Who is going to communicate with you? Being a first-time home buyers we wanted to know everything was OK.”
Take a careful look at your budget. Figure out what you really can afford.
“Paint color can be changed. It’s really the bare bones you’re looking at. Probably location is key.”