Two women seated on a couch in a living room laughing

Much of my post-grad life has not been anything like I expected it would be. I did not want to move back to my hometown (despite my missing family during my time at a university just seven hours away). I did not plan on living with my parents while I saved up money to move out, but that is exactly where I found myself.

I was grateful to land a good job and be able to save most of my income while not having to pay rent or utilities. (Thanks, mom and dad! You have been great roommates!) However, after a year of sharing space again, it was high time to move out. We had worked well together for a year, but I was missing my own freedom and personal space.

I was missing my own freedom and personal space.

Between the two of us, my sister and I had both decided to stick around for another few years to build up job experience and our savings. We looked at options for renting before determining that we would actually save money by buying a home rather than renting one. Thus, began our rollercoaster of a search for our first home.

My sister and I had quite opposite approaches to finding our home. She loves the idea of doing projects to make an outdated home modern and contemporary, and she can see the potential in almost any home. I am the person I used to make fun of on HGTV for walking into a home and saying, “I don’t really like the paint color. I don’t think this house is going to work.”

I eventually had to sacrifice some of what I thought were non-negotiables, like the popcorn ceilings and outdated backsplash ,and realize that I was not going to get the sleek, modern home with a gigantic bathtub and big windows that I was dreaming of for my first home. After several offers, some rejection and lots of house showings, we are set to close on our first home in a few days!

I eventually had to sacrifice some of what I thought were non-negotiables.

Here are some things you need to know about buying your first home:

Find a good realtor.

Our realtor was recommended to us by a dear family friend, and we have loved every second of working with her. She has been available and answered all our questions. She has shown us houses quickly, as they tend to go on and off the market in a flash, and she has gone above and beyond to make sure that we are informed and that things are happening the way they are supposed to. A good realtor makes all the difference in whether your home buying process is stressful or smooth.

A good realtor makes all the difference in whether your home buying process is stressful or smooth.

Look beyond what you see.

This was particularly hard for me. I wanted to nix every house I walked into that had ugly countertops or 70s wallpaper, but I quickly realized that I could not afford my dream home. When I started looking at what could be versus what was in front of me, I fell in love with a house’s potential and could envision my life there.

Determine how much you can actually spend.

My sister and I had a price range we were approved for, and we agreed that if we found a house at the higher end of that range, it needed to be a house that did not need much done to it at all. On the other hand, if we found one at the lower end, we would have more in our budget for cosmetic updates we wanted done. Compare mortgage rates, visit with lenders and set a hard number on how much you are willing to and can spend on the down payment, as well as monthly payments.

While the home buying process has been full of ups and downs, sometimes within minutes of one another, it has been a huge opportunity to learn. As our closing date nears, I get more and more excited to move into my first home and create a space that feels authentic and comfortable.

There has been a massive learning curve. Some days, I still have no idea what I am doing or how to do it. At the end of the road, there is a fresh start and a new home that I get to make my own.

Have you purchased your first home? If so, what was the process like?

Image via Fernish

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