Buying a Home

5 Things I Wish I Knew about Buying My First Home

Feb 19, 2019, 4:25 PM | Robin Kocherhans
A couple receives the keys to their first home

There's a lot you'll learn along the path to first-time homeownership. From how the loan process works to what kind of information you'll need to give to your lender, a lot of it is simply part of the process.

But what about after you own your home? While there is tons of information out there about the home ownership process, not everyone talks about the after. What happens now that you've closed on your home?

Instead of wondering, you can find out what other people wish they knew and use it to prepare yourself for the reality of being an actual homeowner.

5 Things to Know about Being a Homeowner

  1. The First Couple of Months Will Really Hit Your Pocketbook Hard

    When you go through the home loan process, it's pretty typical for your home to have an inspection. While they are pretty thorough, the truth is that it won't catch everything.

    Inevitably, usually in the first few months, an issue will crop up that puts a strain on your finances. Whether a storm blows down part of your fence or you find out that the beautiful tree out front is sending roots through the pipes, you'll want to have some extra cash stashed away.

    This can feel like a big jolt, especially since you've just paid a lot of money at closing. But it's normal, and as long as you're prepared (mentally, emotionally, and financially), you'll come out on the other side.

  3. You'll Need to Buy More Than Just Appliances and Furniture

    Most people think of the big things when it comes to filling their home. It's easy to get excited about a beautiful new couch and the shiny new fridge. But it takes more than these to make sure your house is ready for you to live in.

    You'll also need to budget for (and buy!) the little things. Shower curtains, blinds, drapes, extra keys, lightbulbs . . . all of the little necessities are easy to overlook, but they can really add up when you have to purchase them all at once.

    So before you start moving, sit down and make a list of everything you'll need for each room. Be as detailed as you can so you don't forget something. That way you aren't sitting in the bathroom on your first morning realizing you should have bought toilet paper.

  5. Try to Make Cosmetic Changes Before You Move In

    One of the easiest and most affordable ways to have a big impact on the look and feel of your new home is to make small cosmetic changes.

    Things like updating your flooring, repainting the walls, or installing new carpet are fairly easy DIYs. But don't let that fool you into putting them off until after you've fully moved in.

    For example, it's much harder to paint the walls or ceilings once you've already put furniture in a room. And while the paint dries, that room will be completely out of commission. The same goes for flooring changes.

    It's all much easier if you plan ahead to do these updates before you unpack and officially move in.

  7. It Won't Feel Like Home for Awhile

    A lot of homeowners expect to feel a huge sense of celebration when they finally move in, but for many, it doesn't come. Instead, you may feel overwhelmed (or even underwhelmed) or like a stranger in someone else's home.

    Instead of panicking and worrying that these feelings mean you made the wrong decision, just know it's normal. It takes time, after all, to find your new favorite pizza place or the fastest route to work.

    One way to counteract these feelings is to go exploring. Walk around your neighborhood. Say hello to the neighbors you pass (and, if you're feeling particularly extroverted, go ahead and introduce yourself). Visit nearby parks or shops. Anything to start getting familiar with the area.

    Another reason everything might feel strange is that you're probably surrounded by boxes and many of your things aren't within easy reach. The faster you can unpack and decide where everything should go, the sooner it will all start to feel like home.

  9. Be Ready for Costs to Change

    Did you know that your actual mortgage payment is only one of many recurring monthly expenses that come with buying a home? What you consider to be your total monthly payment is a bunch of different costs bundled together.

    While you pay these costs to your loan servicer all at once each month, part of it goes to your principal and interest (your actual "mortgage payment") and the other portion gets held in escrow to cover your homeowner's insurance premium, property taxes, mortgage insurance (if applicable), etc.

    But because you pay them at the same time, it's easy to forget that they're separate charges. So, while your monthly mortgage payment shouldn't change (as long as you have a fixed-rate or are still in the fixed-rate portion of an ARM loan), the other amounts could, and many homeowners are surprised when it happens.

    For example, it's completely possible for your property taxes to get reassessed. If this happens and they go up, it will make your overall monthly payment higher. Knowing this is a possibility allows you to research what your options are ahead of time, including filing an appeal, so you'll be ready to respond instead of being caught off guard.

Elevate Your Experience

Now that you know some of the biggest surprises new homeowners face, you can make sure you're ready for when they happen to you. That way, thanks to your preparation, the months after you move into your new home can be just as peaceful and enjoyable as you imagined.

In fact, at Elevate Mortgage Group, we're all about having a low-stress experience throughout the entire home-buying process. From the first phone call to moving in, we see ourselves as your guide to help you find your way home.

Robin Kocherhans

Robin has been writing about mortgages for almost 2 years and has been a professional writer for 8. She loves researching and answering your questions about home loans and the mortgage process, as well as helping simplifying complex topics to make them easier for you to understand.