This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.
Drone shot of our current home in South Carolina.
Our Journey to Home Ownership
I was 26 and working as a school counselor just outside of Philadelphia and Matt was working as a college pastor at a church. We had been married just a few years and were renting a gorgeous apartment in an old historic 1890’s home that had been converted into apartments. Our two-bedroom apartment had original pine floors, 10 foot ceilings, and a clawfoot tub! However, it also came with a cranky landlord, neighbors who frequently made a terribly stinky stew, and plaster walls I wasn’t allowed to touch. We knew we wanted to soon start a family and have a home of our own, but home ownership seemed unobtainable at the time.
As the lease renewal was rapidly approaching, I finally sat down with our finances and crunched the numbers. I talked with a realtor and figured out that our cost to rent was more than what a mortgage on a townhome would cost. Our credit score was great, so I’d be able to secure a lower mortgage interest rate. Now we just needed to save for a down payment in order to lower our mortgage payments and avoid mortgage insurance. We downsized to one car, rented movies instead of going to them, and kept a tight food and entertainment budget. Within the year, we had the money available to purchase our first home!
We recently visited friends in Pennsylvania, and I couldn’t help but drive by and take a peek at our former city home. The bed & breakfast we were staying at was located just blocks from our old house, and my friend insisted we drive by to see if anything had changed. As we drove by my beautiful house–with the 100 year old door still painted in Wythe Blue–I realized that the only thing that has really changed since then is me! It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since we moved into our home here in South Carolina, but this move has created a new community, new job, new schools, new church, new friends, new home, and new life. Thinking back over all of the DIY projects we’ve accomplished has me nostalgic for all of the homes we’ve owned over the course of our adult lives. I wouldn’t change our journey of home ownership for anything! What’s even better is that Matt and I are currently on our way to being completely debt and mortgage free! Consistently buying a house within our means has allowed us to work towards our financial goals.
3 Tips to Consider When Buying Your Home
Maybe you are thinking about purchasing a home for the first time, or maybe you are considering a move to a new home. Owning a home can be a daunting task, but the SunTrust onUp Movement is all about having the confidence to move forward financially– one smart step at a time! SunTrust has some amazing resources available on their site to help us all manage our money like a boss and achieve our financial goals–including home ownership. Here are 3 tips to consider when buying your next home.
1. Determine your price range and stick to it.
When we were looking for our home in South Carolina, our price range was all over the place. We knew we could qualify for more than we were currently paying on our previous mortgage, but we weren’t sure how comfortably we could live with paying a higher rate. Before you end up falling in love with a home you can’t afford, it’s a good idea to first figure out your ideal price range. The Home Ownership hub on onUp.com offers some fantastic tools and resources to help determine how much your monthly mortgage payments should be based on your current finances.
2. Make a realistic list of what you are looking for in your next home and then be willing to compromise.
It’s easier to find what you want when you already know what it is that you want! Your values and lifestyle will inform what you’re looking for in a home and it’s important to be realistic with what kind of environment will work for your budget and family. After looking at literally hundreds of homes with our realtor, from fixer uppers to new construction, she encouraged Matt and I to sit down and evaluate our non-negotiables and determine which elements we absolutely had to have in our home and which we could compromise on. We sat down, made a list, and decided that the home’s location, square footage, ceiling height, and land lot size were our non-negotiables. We then tried to keep an open-mind about everything else! It’s important to be willing to reevaluate your list as you get a better feel for what’s available in your area and price range.
3. Do your research and seek out help.
The home buying process can feel intimidating, but you are not alone in your journey to home ownership! There are online resources and professionals waiting to help you navigate each and every step along the way. Finding a loan officer and realtor you trust should be at the top of your list. Getting professional help from an experienced loan officer will allow you to shop for a home with greater confidence. They will review your financial situation and goals, help you evaluate loan options that suit your budget, and determine what you might qualify for in terms of a mortgage. Finding a realtor who has experience in your area and a reputation for good negotiation skills is imperative! Ask around for recommendations and look for a realtor who is willing to listen to what you are looking for.