Yes that's right... I bought a house before I turned 30 and on my own. I have been looking to buy a home for about a year. I looked in 2 states at over a hundred homes and lost a few along the way. A couple of years ago I read an article about millennials and how we were more likely to buy houses later in life because of how crippled we are in student debt. Right then I consciously made the decision that I wanted to buy a house before I turned 30 to break that stereotype along with a few other stereotypes about us. Let me tell you it was hard but not impossible. A recent study just came out from the Pew Research Center stating for the first time in 130 years It is more common for 18-34 year olds to be living at home with their parents than to be living on their own or with a partner. Just think about that for a minute. More millennials live at home with their parents than on their own.
Living at home to save
When I moved back from Georgia, where I attended grad school, I was lucky enough to move back in with my parents. Now let me tell you it was a bit humbling moving back home after 8 years living on my own. It was hard not to see it as a step back or admitting defeat. In my mid to late 20's living above my parents garage was a bit of a blow to my ego but looking back on it, it was the step up in the right direction I needed. I lived at home for a year and a half rent free but in that time I was paying myself rent into my savings account and trying to chisel away at my bills. After a year and a half I was in a better place financially. Not yet ready to buy a home but I was heading in the right direction to go back out on my own. I knew that this next place I wanted to be the last place that I rented before trying to find a house.
I decided to rent a house more as a trial run to make sure a house was more for me than a condo. I found a small cottage in an urban setting where I was responsible for mowing the lawn, raking the leaves and snow removal. Did I mention snow removal?! Well that was the year we got a record amount of snow. I knew that if I was going to be shovelling any more snow it would be on a driveway I owned!
Now I am writing my journey not advice on how to buy a home before you are 30. Just what worked for me. The important thing here is setting goals and figuring out how to achieve them. For me it was living at home and being persistent about saving and setting myself up to reach that goal. But here's the thing not everyone can live at home at 26 nor would everyone want to.
Finding the right realtor
So that's right I looked at almost a hundred homes with two relators. I cannot stress the importance of finding the right realtor. I am so lucky that my second realtor was amazing. She was a friend of a friend and I now truly consider her a friend. She genuinely cared about getting the right house for me and not just selling me any house. Finding the right realtor there is a sense of reassurance and comfort. You are going to be spending a lot of nights and weekends with this person so it's important to have a connection. And you know what? It's ok to break up with a realtor if it's just not the right fit. This is one of the biggest decisions you are going to make so find someone you trust as an advisor. Realtors have a wealth of knowledge and that is something you want to tap into.
Knowing what you want vs. what you can afford
Every episode of Property Brothers starts out with the buyers dream home and then they reveal the price and the buyers dreams of owning that home are crushed. It's so important to be realistic about what you can afford vs what you want. Have a few must haves on your list but keep it realistic. For instance I knew I wanted either a basement or a garage. I wanted 3 bedrooms or I would be fine with a 2 bedroom if I had a finished basement for a craft studio. I wanted a two story home with my bedroom on the second floor but I knew in my price range that would be a stretch.
Now when I started to look at homes I was looking at the top of my budget and when we started bidding on these homes they were going for way over my top price. One house went for 12,000 over asking price with 10 offers at the open house. Now this kept happening to me so I started looking on the mid to low end of my price range. This allowed me to be more competitive with my bids.
It's also important to realize what you can afford and what you can afford comfortably. I bought a house midrange in my budget and I am thankful everyday that I did not go on my high end. There are so many unforeseen expenses when first getting into your house. Like a simple bathroom remodel ends up bringing your whole bathroom down to the studs and starting over.
Don't just look at the cost of the house look at the property taxes. Because you may think your budget is X but in one town your property taxes could be triple what they were in another town. That drastically affects the monthly cost of your mortgage. Figure out what monthly payment you are comfortable with and work backwards to find the appropriate cost of your home.
Realizing there's nothing wrong with buying a home by yourself
Yes I want to get married and have kids.... buying a house doesn't change any of that. I am building equity rather than paying someone else's mortgage. There is a stigma for women buying houses on their own, there is nothing wrong with being driven and not wanting to pay rent anymore. Now if someone finds that intimidating then that's on them.
Knowing when you need support
Now buying a house on my own and making that decision on my own could have been daunting but I am lucky enough to have a great support system. My mother must have seen over a hundred houses with me practically giving up all of her nights and weekends for viewing appointments and open houses. My father's opinions were invaluable especially when it came to inspections and renovations. My grandfather who was a licensed contractor for longer than I have even been alive was a great help when it came to inspections and I valued his and my father's opinions on the state of these homes.
The moment you've all been waiting for the house... MY house! These are all pictures from the real estate site and how the home looked from the previous owners because I can't wait over the next couple months and years to show the improvements I have made from renovations to decorations.