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The American dream. Buying your first home, or is it achieving the perfect apple pie recipe? Well after 5 moves with the military we are finally looking to buy our first house!
We are buying our FIRST home! It's super scary I won't lie but I will admit we aren't your typical home buyer. See, our families live in an area of Florida known for seasonal vacation rentals. Because of this, the rental market is one of the highest in the country.
So, while Florida is not where we plan to put down to many roots, and while we never planned to be back in the state any longer than to visit we would be crazy not to take advantage of this.
I want to share our process with you in hopes of helping you along your journey.
Buying Your First Home – Our Story
What is our plan?
We are getting all our ducks in a row and then we will be buying our first home. We plan to be in Florida for the next 2-3 years working with my dad and learning his business inside and out. Then we plan to open a shop up in Gatlinburg Tennessee and buying our “first HOME” there and renting this house here in Florida out.
I say buying our first home in Tennessee like that because right now we are looking at houses in an investment mindset. In Tennessee we will be looking at them for us personally, it will truly be our home.
We have been working on our credit over the last few years, paying off debt etc as we have been traveling, this just wasn't our end game!
We are currently getting all our paperwork together to get pre-approved for a mortgage, we are just waiting on hubby's last W2 so we can file our taxes and use those and proof of my income.
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What are we looking for in a house?
Well, we have 5 kids and a dog and we are used to living in less than 300 square feet currently. When it comes down to it we really just need 3 bedrooms and place for me to work. So we are looking at 4 bedrooms, and we are looking at 3 bedrooms with a den or bonus room. We would like a fenced backyard and something that would allow us to do some work on the house and increase the value of it. Plus we are paying attention to location!
Because we are also in Florida we are paying attention to building the structure and making sure there are hurricane shutters.
What do we NOT want?
While it's been quite a debate with our family we don't want a pool. The up keeps, the laws around having a pool (having to have a fence and gate and alarm) and then renting a house with a pool? It's one more thing for them to break.
We also don't want a really older house, we are looking for something 2000 or newer. The reason being all the new hurricane codes were put into place after hurricane Andrew and the homes built after 2000 have all those codes in place. Being that the area we are looking at was affected by hurricane Charlie in 2004 and more recently Hurricane Irma in 2017.
We do not want a 2 story house. With how far south we are and the summer heat our electric bill to cool off the second story would be insane. Why two-story homes are even being built here, I don't know!
We also do NOT want a house on a busy street, a condo, or the every popular manufactured home that are down here.
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So why am I telling you all this?
Because I will be sharing our journey of buying our first home and once we have the house we plan to do a lot of DIY and work ourselves and I want to share with you how to decorate and remodel a house on a budget!
We don't even have the house but we have a name for it! The Florida Farmhouse. How did we get that name? Well, we LOVE the farmhouse style and want a small farm spread when we get to Tennessee. So this is our attempt to build up our farm-style decor to take with us, the only problem? This style is NOT popular in Florida.
So many homes in this area are decorated in the old tacky Florida Tropical decor. This is an off-white tan furniture and is popular among the older crowd here. Or there is next to no decor because it's young families with small kids. To see an example of this type of Florida decor I am talking about and a manufactured home I mentioned above check out this home listed on Zillow.
We love Joanna Gaines Farmhouse style mixed with a bit of Smoky Mountain cabin rustic. I started a Pinterest board of home decor ideas, DIY projects etc you can follow and see what ideas I am looking at.
Related: Farmhouse Living Room – Fixer Upper HGTV Living Room
My tips for buying your first home
Know your credit score. This is big you need to know your credit score and if it's not good you need to work on it before you even apply for preapproval. You might need another year to work on your credit, take this time to improve your credit score and build up your emergency fund and down payment.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you even step foot in a house. This is so you don't fall in love with a house, then, can't get financing for it. While I have been looking on Zillow and been in touch with a real estate agent we won't walk through any houses until the pre-approval is done.
Make a list of what you need and want in a house. Then make a list of what would be a bonus if you could find it. Know what you can live without and what your deal breakers are and make sure you are on the same page as your spouse for buying your first home.
Look at the bones of the house. Remember paint colors can be changed, the decor isn't YOUR decor, you can redo the bathroom, the kitchen, the floors. You need to look at the BONES of the house. Does it have enough bedrooms to work for your family? Enough bathrooms? Does the layout work? Is the backyard big enough? Are the neighbors right on top of you? Those are things you can't change.
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Location, Location, Location. Make sure it's the right location for buying your first home. This can't be changed. Is it in a good part of town? Drive by during the day and at night. Is it close to the amenities you want (or far away if you choose)? Is the size of the land the house is on big enough for you? Make sure it's not on the main street especially if you have kids! Well unless you are into this sort of thing!
Talk to neighbors if you can and pay attention to the neighbor's homes. Are they well taken care of? This is a sign of a good neighborhood. If the homes have been let go and there are many homes on the same street are for sale that's a red flag. Look into it! Also, see if there are a lot of rentals near you. If there are a lot of rental homes it's not a deal breaker but just be prepared you could have new neighbors every year!
Make sure it's in a good school district even if you plan on homeschooling. It's good for resale and in case life changes and your kids have to go to public school. You just never know!
Work your budget. When you get pre-approved for buying your first home they will tell you your max and what then monthly payment will be on that max. Sit down with your budget and work the number into it. Remember you don't have to go to the top of your budget. You need to factor in property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, HOA fees if there will be any, and making sure you are putting money aside every month for repairs. The roof could go at any time and it will be your responsibility to fix it. Make sure you have a good emergency fund set aside for things like this.
What tips do you have for buying your first home? Let me know in the comments below.
Roger Middleton says
I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to understand what you’re looking for in a house before purchasing one to make sure you can find the perfect one. My wife and I have been talking about getting into a home, but we don’t really know what to do. We’ll have to start looking around at homes for sale in the area that will work for what we’re wanting.
Deb Pearl says
Thank you for all the tips for buying your first home. I really want to buy my first home, but I don’t know what to do. I think it would be very smart to get pre-approved for a mortgage. It would be nice to not fall in love with a house I can’t afford.
Danielle, The Frugal Navy Wife says
Yes I highly suggest talking to a bank first get your pre approvals and start the process then go look at homes That was my fear of falling in love and not being able to afford it it.
Earnest Watkins says
My wife and I would love to move into our first home together, so I really appreciated the tips you gave. My favorite one was how you suggested making a physical list of what we want in a home before we start our search. I’m sure this would also be a huge benefit too if we get a real estate agent involved since it would help them clearly see what our needs and wants are.