I promised myself early on that I would not rely on anybody else to fully support me. The concept of owning my own home has always resonated. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I wanted to make sure that I always lived on my own until I was ready to start a life with another person. From a financial aspect, I always wanted to make sure that my living expenses were manageable without my partner’s income.
Around 2013 to early 2015, I was in a relationship with an individual who was not compatible. At one point of the relationship that person wanted me to move in with them. I did not want to. If I had moved in with him, it would have broken my rules, and an internal intuition prompted me that I needed to avoid cohabitation at all cost. My decision to not move in with him was the best decision of my life. We ended up breaking up within a year of purchasing my home.
Buying a home had always been on my mind, and I prepared for a long time to be able to. There were a few things I learned about home buying while working at my financial service job as a credit analyst that helped me.
Here are some ways I prepared:
I do not have a strict budget, but I do have a ballpark budget. A ballpark budget is essentially how much I allow per month of any given expense. A lot of times there are set amounts, like my car payment, rent, student loans, and fixed expenses. My budget on what I could afford was the building block of my home purchase.
A rule of thumb is that your planned mortgage shouldn’t be more than one week’s pay check in wage. If I were making around $500 a week, I should make sure my mortgage was around that much. The reason I wanted to keep my mortgage around this price is that there are additional costs to having a home that add up. That is something most people do not tell you about.
One thing that is over looked when planning to buy a home is financial credit. In my early 20s, I was careless with my credit. The scores were not at their best, and I knew they needed work. I was not aware of how to repair it or work on building my credit again until I started working for a credit repair and financial service company.
The first day on the job I was handed a book called You Credit Score by Liz Weston. This book was the foundation of my credit knowledge. After a year I became a senior credit analyst and learned exactly what I needed to do to build my credit. I was able to adjust my score from a low 600 to mid-to-upper 700s.
One of the best things I learned is that I had to have two credit cards used consistently with a less than 20% balance at all times. I did this very precisely and with the high credit score, I was able to get a very lower interest rate on a home loan.
Once I figured out what I could afford monthly, I started to shop for loans. One of the best sites I found was bankrate.com. On this website they provided details as to how much I could expect in an interest rate and who had the best deals. After I figured out rates, I started to research the different types of loans.
There are a ton of different loans, but the most common are Conventional, FHA, and VA. These all have different pros and cons. Typically FHA has mortgage insurance which is something I had not taken into consideration. The conventional loan did not have mortgage insurance if I paid 20%. Mortgage insurance is practically money down the drain as it has absolutely no return.
The hardest part was not obtaining a loan, but was finding a realtor. It’s very hard to find somebody to take you seriously when you are 27 purchasing a home all by yourself. I did not have anybody to help me get my mortgage. The research and purchase were done on my own, so it required a lot of negotiation and research.
Finding a realtor was difficult as a young female because most people did not take me seriously. It’s sad that there are individuals who judge others on their age and gender but, in reality, it happens. When I told realtors what I was looking for, I was constantly told that I would not find it.
Somebody once told me “Realtors are like photographers, everybody is one.” This was very accurate. As somebody who went to film school and took professional photography classes, I do cringe when somebody says they are a photographer and do not know a lot about how photography works. The same thing happens with realtors. It’s very easy to become a realtor which makes the field very saturated.
After calling multiple realtors, I ended up finding somebody through my mom. She contacted an old coworker who was a realtor. She did not want to help me but referred me to another person. The man who helped me was a father, and he wanted to help me find a place. He also helped me make sure that it was a safe location as I was a woman living on my own.
When I finally processed my mortgage purchase, I visited a lawyer’s office to finalize the paperwork. He was very friendly, supportive, and informative. He let me know that what I was doing was a great idea and that I reminded him of his son. Although I did purchase the home on my own, it was because of a supportive realtor that I was able to do that.
To conclude, I am grateful that I waited for marriage to move in with somebody. Had I not waited, I would be stuck in a horrible situation, and I wouldn’t have my place. Of all the financial roller coasters over the years, the only thing that has stayed untouched and safe was my condo.
I am now engaged, and my fiancé will move in after the wedding day. The best part about waiting was that after our wedding day I will now have a new chapter to start in my life. It’s very exciting to have waited especially in terms of the financial aspect. Once my fiancé moves in with me, we’re planning to save up for a bigger home — together.