Buying my First Home

I just had my offer on a house accepted last week and I’m equal parts excited and terrified. Because I’m weird and superstitious I talk about the house that I have a prospective offer on as my “potential home” – nothing is final until I reach closing day! In the post I talk about my search for a house, and what’s to come in the future.

Why a house? Why now?

My main motivation is that the features I require from a living space have expanded greatly – and the cost for those features in an apartment is just not what I’m willing to pay to a landlord anymore. My non-negotiables for an apartment – covered parking, in-unit laundry, central air, – those items would start me off at around $1200/mo for an apartment. That $1200 isn’t even for prime locations either – downtown and stuff near Lake Michigan will run you closer to $1500/mo for a one-bedroom. And your girl doesn’t do studios, even in the fancy new builds. 

So I started tentatively looking in about November. And when I say tentative, I essentially mean looking at Zillow. It wasn’t until February that I reached out to a real estate agent and got pre-approved through a local credit union. I toured seven houses before my offer was accepted on my dream home!

My accepted offer

The house that I’m hoping to live in is a cape cod built in the 1920s (P.S – the subreddit r/centuryhomes has been such a stress reliever in easing my potential woes of owning a 100 year old house). I’ll be in the city limits of Milwaukee, neighboring one of the more popular suburbs (Wauwatosa).

Even when I made the offer, I knew the house was going to need some work done. My accepted offer was just under $100,000 and comps in the neighborhood are going for $120k+ these days. The last owners did a lot of nice-to-have cosmetics updates, but it will ultimately be on me to take care of the bigger ticket items. Some pertinent projects for the near future include regrading the yard to promote drainage and repairing loose stairs. Luckily, other projects can be put off for at least a couple of years. 

Fears of the future

I do worry a bit about my safety, being that I will be a single homeowner. At this point in time, I’m not very handy and I’m preemptively annoyed at the prospect of having to take care of repairs by myself or calling in a professional.  I only say “annoyed” because all I’ve ever known is a life where I call up a maintenance team and minor stuff is fixed for free! (free meaning already priced into my rent)

Other notes on the experience

The ‘starter home’ market is CRAZY – even here in Wisconsin! In my neck of the woods, I’m talking in the $150k range and under – which generally can get you 3BD/2BA in the city limits. Yes that may be very cheap to you – checking my midwestern privilege (/s). Mortgages are just so attractive now that rates are so low. I can only hope that all of these new homeowners went with fixed rates and not ARMs. I know that my credit union has 5/1 ARMs at 3% for first time homebuyers who only have to put 5% down, I only imagine that banks and CUs are offering similar products throughout the country. 

That’s it for now! Once I have signed on the dotted line and everything is official, I plan on making another post a few months into homeownership. I welcome any and all tips on being a first time homeowner, and even horror stories to adequately prepare me for the road ahead. Thanks for reading.

  • J