Friday, July 05, 2024

How I Bought My Home

In my May 6 post, I showed you my inspirational photos. Well, below are the influences I read and viewed that motivated me and made it all possible.

The last few years have been stressful. It started with the pandemic, working from home, caring for my father and his diminishing health, his sudden cardiac episode that lead to a pacemaker, his recovery, and then his sudden death. I don't know what a stress-free life is. 

A year later in 2023, my sisters and I decided to sell the family home, where I had lived the last ten years. Theoretically, that was great, I could finally own a place where I could do what I wanted. But truthfully, that loaded on more stress because I would need to do both things around the same time. Luckily, I did not have to wait to sell before I could buy.

Two weeks before the pandemic, my part-time job became full-time, then our offices were closed, and the employees started working from home. I lived rent-free and my gas and meal costs were cut by more than half. I didn't change my way of life so that extra money was never touched. When I finally checked my account, my balance was over $20,000! I transferred that and regularly moved the extra money to my savings account. By the time we decided to sell the house I had received my portion of our inheritance and now had enough for a 20% down payment. That relieved some of the stress and gave me much-needed control over my future.

I started looking into "buying a first home" resources. The first two below were essential and truly helped me make solid decisions. You need to think about the home-buying process in practical terms. Observing my co-workers, I knew how quickly rents could rise and how I might find a great rental and in a few years be forced to move. So renting while waiting for the "perfect" place was not how I wanted to go. Even if I had to stretch to buy a place, I could have a set monthly mortgage and possibly refinance in the future and pay a smaller amount.

The purchase amount lenders qualify you for probably should not be your goal because their numbers reflect ideal situations. I was lucky to get something $20,000 below my qualification, resulting in a sustainable monthly payment because you never know what the future holds...knock on wood. 


Now, I didn't buy a lessor home, it has the style and uniqueness I wanted. I have friends and family nearby, my mechanic is around the corner as well as a grocery store, drugstore, and gas station within two blocks and work ten minutes away. What the place lacked for that money was any updated finishes, which luckily by buying a less expensive property I have the means to change. Not anything huge, but I can add new doorknobs, painted cabinets, rugs, new blinds/curtains, and maybe new ceiling fans and custom shelving down the line.

Resources:

Ric Edelman: His book, Truth About Money, is a good all-around guide to personal finances and uses plain language so it's highly understandable. As part of the author's company, Edelman Wealth Management Group, there is this valuable tool, a How Much Home Can I Afford? calculator that helped me calculate how much I wanted to pay.

New York Times: Is It Better To Rent or Buy? calculator. So detailed and the accompanying information is so good.

New York Times: The Hunt home-buying columns. The budgets were much higher than I was playing with, but these stories were still motivational. I applaud them for opening up the stories to non-New York locations.

Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home by Ann O’Connell and Ilona Bray. This one backs up its advice with legal know-how.

Alexandra Gater: Her series of videos on YouTube got me through the buying process and showed what I could do in a new place. Her makeovers focus on Toronto rental apartments but reminded me I didn't have to start with permanent changes. I'd been waiting decades to get my place so I could take some time and try out a few things first; like removable wallpaper (her go-to) and faux backsplash tiles.

Caroline Winkler: This Washington, DC interior designer I'm following on YouTube is a great contrast to Alexandra. Her mood is more my vibe, not so sunny and less gimmicky (no memes!). Her gateway videos are $0 makeovers where she uses what currently existed in the space. Definitely check out her Interior Design for Indecisive People video.

Emily Henderson: You may have already heard of her, she's a big deal. However, my interest was in the lower-scale makeovers that her staff undertook on their personal spaces. I saw concepts in those that I could see applying to a space of mine. I especially liked the colorful spaces of Jess, Caitlin, and especially Julie's bedroom.

Mortgage or Marriage*: This Netflix series first entertained me and then just annoyed me! Couples with a set budget (enough to cover a house down payment in Nashville, TN) are given the option of a dream wedding or house. The two hosts then compete to find a home or a wedding package that fits the couple's specifications. These plans include vendor discounts, freebies, or added home amenities to sway their decision. What annoyed me is that so many couples with concrete reasons why a house should be their priority, chose to spend the whole amount on a one-day event. Even after walking through an available property and declaring it perfect. As if accumulating another $20-$30,000 will be easy after they wed. I cheered every time someone chose a mortgage and hoped they were inspired by those $$ wedding ideas and scale them down to something they could afford.

Pinterest: What can I say, my entire design plan was created using this app. Among my boards, I have everything corralled; Possible Purchases, Home Projects, Painted Doors and Trim, Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers, and Paint Effects, all devoted to improving my home.

*So, why is this one of my influences? Like most "reality" TV it showed me the grass is NOT always greener, especially knowing this was all in 2019. They should have taken the house...

1 comment:

Marie said...

Looks lovely and curated with your own personal things. I love it when people use what they have and the personal items from their life and families life. I think lots of design inspiration points toward everyone to look exactly the same as your neighbors. The first season of Capturing Home on Discovery really does a good job of taking design inspiration from your life and treasures. Bravo to you for utilizing all those resources and knowing what you wanted and making your dream come true.