First Time Home Buying—How We Bought A House At 21 and 24!
My name is Tyler and my wife's name is Ariel. We're the Thomas family! I am so excited to get to share with you our experience of buying a first time home. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy.
I want to share my wife and I’s experience of first time home buying. I truly hope that this will inspire anyone wanting to buy a home for the first time, or even just buy a home in a crazy market where you have to be extremely competitive.
Here’s our story!
When Ariel and I first got married, which was in 2019, we were immediately living in an apartment. It wasn't so bad at first, and the apartment itself was never that bad overall. In fact, it was quite nice.
As newlyweds, we didn't really care about owning a home because we were too focused on rearranging our lives to live together and provide together. We also couldn't afford a home at the time we got married because we had a lot of debt we were trying to tackle.
When we were first married, we had about $30,000 of debt that was built up from student loans and credit cards. Ariel and I were able to pay that off within 2 1/2 years!
This is mainly why we wanted to rent in the beginning. You should always deal with your debt before adding a lot more. And that's exactly what we did.
We lived in the apartments for quite a few months when the upstairs neighbors moved in.
Beginning of the End
Things were peaceful, until our upstairs neighbors moved in. They weren't bad people. It was just they didn't know how to be very courteous of other neighbors.
Our apartment was on a ground floor, and directly above us was another apartment. When they would walk around, you could easily hear their footsteps. This was fine, except for when they had 20 visitors up there all walking around.
They didn't last that long, and eventually they got kicked out for being too disruptive. But they weren't the only disruptive neighbors. There were others that would play with a frisbee at 3 am! No joke.
We eventually grew tired of living next to this. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of other good neighbors!
It wasn't just the neighbors we grew tired of. Our apartment didn't have a washer or dryer, so we'd have to lug our laundry baskets to a laundromat or one of our parents house to do laundry. We also got real tired real quick of this issue. This drove us to pay off our debt quickly so we could buy our first home.
Paying Off Debt
Finally, after about 2 1/2 years, we got all of our debt paid off so that we could afford a home of our own.
I (Tyler) alone had $24,000 worth of student loans that needed to be dealt with, and I even went back to school for one semester which added another $7,500 worth of student loans. I had a credit card with about $2,000 on it from a laptop I purchased. And the rest was just general credit card debt we had.
It took us about 2 1/2 years to pay this off. We were so proud! When you work so hard to live frugally and save as much money as possible, you have this sense of accomplishment and pride.
We were finally ready to start house searching!
The Home Search
Ariel's mom is a real estate Broker, so she helped us with seeing houses we were potentially interested in. I was actually in school during the year of 2020 so Ariel was the sole provider of our family.
With her being the only one working, we were only approved for up to $150,000. In our state (Oklahoma) that was a decent first time home buyers option. But then COVID-19.
During our home search, COVID-19 became a real issue, as it was hard to go anywhere! Everything was shut down.
We continued to look at homes online, but we weren't really able to go see them in person. During the year of 2020, the housing market went crazy. You would think it would have slowed way down, but it actually sped way up.
Interest rates on mortgages dropped to record lows, and people were moving to places with more space to accommodate at-home living during a pandemic.
The housing market became so hard to compete in. Houses were getting multiple offers, and they would start to get bid up so high because people were desperate to get the house they wanted.
Housing inventory fell to an extreme low, so as soon as a house was listed on the market, it was usually gone within a day or two. All of this prolonged our home buying process because we couldn't afford to make an offer on a house that valued at $150,000 but being bid up to $200,000.
I (Tyler) Started Working
I finally started my career in real estate. I became a Realtor for Metro First Realty Shawnee in Oklahoma and was able to start contributing to our income.
This enabled us to being able to make higher offers on houses. I love real estate and I enjoy seeing new homes weekly. I mostly enjoy getting to meet new people and connect with them as we find their dream home.
This also gave me the experience and skills to negotiate and work a real estate transaction, even for myself.
Making an Offer
It would have been really nice to have gotten the first offer we made, or so we thought. We made a few offers here and there, but as we look back we realized that we would have hated the house we would have ended up with.
There were plenty of houses that we looked that were within our price range, but knowing the market, we would have no room to renovate if needed.
The few offers we did make, I am sure that God was looking out for us because it seems they actually had a lot of problems. So, in reality it was a really good thing that we didn't get those offers. We would have been settling because we were so desperate for a house!
Settling is not really my thing. I would rather wait and continue to save rather than getting something and not really loving it. If we were going to make an offer, I wanted to know that we were going to love that house if we got it.
So, we didn't really make many offers because the few houses that did come up were maxing us out on our budget, or they weren't good enough for us.
One day, as I am a Realtor, I scheduled an appointment to show a house in a nice, cozy neighborhood that is very well-kept. That very morning, my client messaged me and said that they had to cancel their showing appointment.
I asked Ariel if she wanted to go see the house anyways, even though we felt it might be too much money for our budget. We went and saw the house, and we absolutely adored it! Ariel and I immediately made an offer that same day.
But here's the kicker. In our market, it is really hard to make an offer that's lower than the listing price. We offered $10,000 less than the listing price and we got it!
Ariel and I couldn't believe that we actually got the house. We absolutely adored this house and we were going to be so crushed if we didn't get it. The sellers were amazing too!
Waiting for the day of closing was hard. Each night in the apartment, I would tell my wife how ready I was to be in our new home. And finally closing day was here. I was really nervous for some reason. I had no reason to be, because all we had to do was sign the paperwork and then we were done.
I knew, though, that after we walk out of that closing office, we would now have a new home. That's a big step when buying a home for the first time. It isn't something you just rush into. We were patient with the whole process and we ended up with a beautiful home, and I even got to mow it for the first time right after moving in. I know that sounds weird but it made it feel even more like our home.
Looking for a home is not easy, and you should never settle on any old house. We had a specific style and standards that we wanted. We were patient enough, and we ended up in the right house.
If I had to give advice to other first time homebuyers, I would say be patient, pay off any debt as much as you can, and don't get your hopes up before knowing if your offer is accepted.
Each offer we made before the final house, we got our hopes up high. They were dashed each time when we found out that we didn't get it. So refrain from getting your hopes up to high because many times the first offer won't go through.
I hope this story inspires you to hold onto that hope of owning your own dream home someday. This was our success story, and you will have yours too. Thank you for reading!