Money Matters

How To Survive Buying Your First Home

2 Mar 2016 by: jhurley 

By Matt Ryan

For me, 2015 was a very eventful year. I graduated from college in May, travelled to 17 countries this past summer and started a full time job at a firm for which I interned for the prior summer. I was also living at home until one memorable day in December. After careful thought and a watchful eye on my funds, I finally decided it was time to move out… so I did.

How does one decide if now is the right time to move out from under Mom and Dad’s roof and buy a house or condo? I don’t have the perfect answer, but I can explain how I bought my first place.

First, I binge watched “House Hunters;” a HGTV series that takes first time home buyers out on a search for their dream home. From my extensive research on HGTV, I formulated “The List,” which consisted of my wants and needs of my future bachelor pad.

Next I researched Zillow to look throughout San Diego at properties that met the criteria of The List. After my first advanced search on Zillow, I realized The List needed to be shortened… a lot. Apparently, houses that are directly on the beach are rather expensive. Being relatively young and in good health, an elevator probably should not have even been on my list at all.

After revisiting and editing The List to reflect my realistic wants and needs, I settled on the following criteria; two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a parking spot (parallel parking isn’t my thing), as close as possible to the beach, less than 15 minute commute to work, and places to eat within a half mile.

Implementing The List
The next step was to see what kind of budget I could work with. This step should probably be done first, but luckily in my case it worked out. To determine what I could afford on a monthly basis, I made a detailed budget of my income and expenses. Although I could manage the costs of a new home on my own, I planned to have a roommate with rental income. In terms of the budget, the added cash flow was “icing on the cake.”

Next, I spoke with a mortgage broker to get the approximate costs involved in buying a house so I could plan a “purchase budget.” I was preapproved and found out that finding the right place for my budget might become a little tricky. One thing about House Hunters is that it is filmed in other cities where the housing prices aren’t quite as inflated as they are in San Diego. This was yet another learning point for me.

I put my search engine to work alongside my real estate agent, who is also my brother, and we started looking at houses focusing in Pacific Beach, Mission Valley, North Park, and Point Loma. That search led me to Point Loma.

Finally, I walked into a condo and after seeing a dark green wall covering an entire side of the living room, I knew this was the one. All it needed was a little love, and some beige paint, which I promptly purchased!

Mr. Fix It
The weekend after escrow closed I invited six of my closest friends to help paint the entire inside of my new condo. This was no easy task. Although the paint guaranteed only one coat, the dark green monster wall took two. As a first time home buyer and new to the whole remodeling idea, I didn’t think painting the entire inside of the house in a day or two would be an issue… I was wrong. Turns out painting actually takes quite a while. Especially when you have to wait for your mistakes to dry before you paint over them again. Also, if you give one friend semi-gloss paint and another friend flat paint, you’ll notice a difference. The painting project was a great education in interior decorating!

In about two weeks, my friends and I had painted the entire house. Needless to say, the dedicated friends have free reign over my fridge for the unforeseeable future. After going through Angie’s List, I ended up hiring an electrician, a plumber, a handyman, another plumber, a floor cleaner, a furniture cleaner, and air duct cleaners. A whole team of professionals descended on my condo and fixed the things on my “to do” list. It was as if a tornado had torn through my house but the end result was that everything got fixed.

Now the house was fixed up and I thought it was ready to move in!  Wrong. I needed some furniture so I wasn’t eating breakfast sitting on the floor. Even though, I accounted for the expenses I’d incur from filling the condo with relatively nice furniture, it still came as a shock when I learned how hard it actually is to find “bachelor pad” style furniture at a reasonable price. Staying within budget while finding what my roommate and I considered the necessities was challenging. In the end, I bought a coffee table and end tables from an estate sale, a TV stand from a consignment shop, a couch from my aunt’s garage, and a dining table off of craigslist. The CCMI team also helped out by gifting a tall, thin table, investment inspired artwork, and kitchenware to help fill up my bare cabinets. In retrospect, I should have applied to be on a HGTV show. The process I went through finding deals was certainly entertaining enough to feature on a TV special.

This experience was an incredible eye-opening learning opportunity. It is a deeply satisfying feeling waking up in the morning, walking down the stairs, and eating breakfast in my own home. I put a lot of hard work into figuring out the budget and how to get all off the work done before I could move in.  My efforts have paid off. I love my new home and am looking forward to making many new and exciting memories!

CCMI provides personalized fee-only financial planning and investment management services to business owners, professionals, individuals and families in San Diego and throughout the country. CCMI has a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals who act as fiduciaries, which means our clients’ interests always come first.
How can we help you?

More by this Author
Below are additional articles written by this author.

As April is National Financial Literacy month, let’s look at how much we have learned since the Great Recession.  A recent survey completed by Wallethub.com…

by Bob Eddy, CFP ® For more than 42 years, Bob Eddy has assisted CCMI clients with a variety of their financial planning and investment…

by Peg Eddy, CFP ® Having been a CFP practitioner since 1983 and now on the cusp of my retirement, a look back on my…