After whats seems like a 18 straight months of the the what-if game (What if I move in with a friend/rando on Craigslist/rent a studio? What if I live in the city/burbs? What if I bought a place?), I stopped playing. Granted, it's a good practice to force yourself to look at all possibilities. At the end of the day, though, you have to ask yourself just one question: What do I want? The answer came easily. I want to move out, and downtown because my commute blows. I also want to buy, and I've saved enough to swing it.
So--great--awesome--I had this decision and zero clue on how to start. I may or may not have googled "how to buy a house". Heaven help me. But I kept on googling. I read, and re-read, and then read something else until I had a basic idea of what I needed to do.
Then, I started chatting up virtually everyone I knew. One co-worker gave me the name of the mortgage broker that had given her the best rate. Another co-worker gave me the name of the buyer's agent she recommended. A friend suggested that I consider financing through credit union, as they have a tendency to have better rates. I asked my dad for the name of his lawyer. I soaked it all in. These people had done it before, so their 2 cents is worth a lot more to me.
Finally, I got my act together:
(1) I sat down and was honest with myself and my money. What do I have in savings...sitting right now in cash? What savings can't I touch but could use as collateral? What bills will go away when I move? What new bills will I have? Warning: This step is plain ol' depressing. I recommend you have a hugh jass cup of coffee.
(2) I called the mortgage broker and a local credit union. The conversation with both went something like "____ referred me to you. I think I need something called a pre-approval. But I'm new to this and not really sure. Can you help me?"
(3) I "shopped around" and ended up calling the buyer's agent suggested by my co-worker. True to form, I had an awkward Aimee moment and referenced "Operation: Move Out" in our initial conversation. As if the realtor and I were in cahoots.
(4) I started looking. I had a rough idea of how much I could spend and looking online at sites like Trulia helped me to understand how much "house" that bought me. Warning: This step is plain ol' exciting. I still recommend that you have a hugh jass cup of coffee.
Just when I was feeling like I was failing at this whole process, my grandmother sent me the following email: (Yes, I am aware of just how amazing it is that my 89-year old grandmother emails me. She also comments on my Facebook photos. She is awesome.)
I am so proud of the fact that you have become such a responsible young woman. You "take the bull by the horns" and go after what you want and that's a great characteristic. Look forward to hearing from you sweetheart.
Hmm. Bull by the horns. Something like that.