How to buy a house for the first time without losing your mind

How to buy a house for the first time without losing your mind

Now that you know exactly why renting sucks, let's talk about all the headaches you're going to have when you decide you want to buy a house for the first time. Many first-time home buyers find just starting the process of buying a home daunting, but with a little guidance and determination, you too can join the ranks of homeowners and start complaining about things like "property values" and "mole crickets." But at least you're accruing equity, right?

Get your shit together.

The first thing you want to figure out is if you can afford a house. Have a job? Good first step. How much does it pay? (Really, that much? You guys hiring?)

Your first clue that you've got at least the credit to start the home-buying process are those envelopes from your bank that you're probably throwing away without opening that say things like "pre-approved" and "mortgage" on them. Open one up next time and see how much your bank thinks they can afford to lend you. Then call your bank and see how much they'll actually lend you. It'll probably be less, but if they don't hang up in disgust, it's a pretty good sign.

And as a first-timer, you're eligible for special programs that lower your mortgage interest rate and down payment. Though if you have that fabled 20 percent down payment saved up, you're more likely to avoid having to pay mortgage insurance, which is a real kick in the dick once you realize it's essentially a bet that the lender is making against you being able to pay your mortgage – a bet that you have to pay for.

Find a realtor.

If you're under the impression that, as a first-time home buyer, you'd be better off without a realtor, you're wrong. Your realtor is your best friend throughout the entire process. Yes, they get a commission based on how much you spend, but a good realtor will steer you away from trying to spend everything your bank pre-approved you for and into a house that you can actually afford. They also do most of the legwork of house-hunting for you, looking through listings for something that matches your budget and tastes and bringing you out to look at options that they've already narrowed down. They'll also advise you on things that you just won't think of, like making sure appliances included with the home come with a warranty, or making sure that your potential home isn't built over a Native American burial ground.

Don't fall in love.

You're going to look at a lot of houses. Like, a lot. And eventually you'll find one that you think is perfect: good location, good price, good layout. You'll talk it over with your significant other. You'll call the realtor to put in an offer. And you'll get a call back telling you that a cash buyer has swooped in to yank your dream home out from under you.

Cash buyers are us common folk's worst enemy during the house hunt, sneaking in with their giant sacks of money and snatching up properties that they probably aren't even going to live in, just to flip them and make a buck. If it makes you feel any better, this happens to so many people that it's become a cliché. And there's always another house that's just as good; maybe even better.

Practice your signature.

So you found a house you love, the seller accepted your offer, the house passed inspection. Congratulations! You're off to the closing. Hope you don't have carpal tunnel, because you're going to be signing papers for the next hour. And if you thought you could get away with that bullshit squiggle you sign your bar tabs with, think again. The bank wants you to sign, in legible cursive, your full first, middle and last name on what seems like 217 sheets of paper.

You will never be so conscious of your poor penmanship again in your life.

Join Pinterest.

Now that you own a home, get ready for a never-ending stream of improvement projects, whether it be rearranging the furniture in your living room six or seven times to find the optimal configuration or tearing down a wall in the kitchen to improve the flow from room to room.

The possibilities are endless, but Pinterest will give you plenty of ideas of how to keep improving on that home that you thought was perfect – back before you bought it.

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