I figured I would write a little about our experience during this home buying process. We had NO idea where to start as first time home buyers and I'm hoping our experience may help some people? That being said, I am not even close to an expert, and this is just our experience :). I am going to break this up into parts because it is pretty long and overwhelming.
We did a bunch of surfing the internet and driving around the 'ville before we even considered buying a house as a viable option. My dad has always pushed buying over renting because you are investing your money instead of essentially paying for space. I know it doesn't work this way for everyone, but we are both pretty happy in our jobs and where we are, and started to look at buying as an option.
Fortunately for me, my future husband is a whiz with numbers (and a budget... this is good and bad, ha!). He made spreadsheets of what we make a year, what our take home is per month, what would be a reasonable amount to spend on a mortgage, insurance, etc. [As a side note,I know we are pretty young to be buying a house, but we were both incredibly fortunate that our parents were able to pay for college, so we don't have any debt we are paying off currently. I don't say this to "brag" or anything of the sort, I just wanted to put that out there so you can see where we are financially.]
I started by searching the internet once he gave me a good concrete number as our highest. Fortunately, we have had an AWESOME experience with our Realtor and her website actually lets you put perimeters on what you're looking for: I put in the area we were looking, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, our budget range, and their system sends a new email as often as you want. I chose everyday because, well, I like to be in the know ;). This ended up working out for us tremendously ;). If you are looking in the Charlottesville/Albemarle County area, I highly recommend Valorie Ford - she has been AWESOME to work with, and has been really patient with us as first time home buyers.
We also drove around A TON looking in the neighborhoods we liked. We actually ended up talking to a lady who was out playing with her kids in one of our favorite neighborhoods and asked a bunch of questions. Asking around was a big help.
So - the first steps we took were:
1. Deciding we wanted to start looking.
2. Setting a budget - you can do this in excel, and we also used an online house buying budget estimator that includes taxes for the area, insurance, etc. It was SUPER helpful.
3. Asking around about neighborhoods. Neither of us are from the area, and while Stuart went to school here, we weren't familiar with every area. Asking our colleagues at work, our insurance agent, and even driving through neighborhoods and stopping to ask questions were all helpful.
Next - how we found our house, and the process of getting a loan :).
P.S. I am happy to answer questions about any part in our process so if I haven't bored you to tears, shoot me an email :).
This post was scheduled ahead of time - just dropping in to say my heart and prayers are in Oklahoma right now.