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I Am Now A Homeowner - All About Buying Our First Condo

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Keys To My New House
©iStockphoto.com – luismmolina

The title of this article says it all! After saving my down payment for years and years, and after six plus strenuous months of trying to buy a home, I'm finally a homeowner. We actually closed on our new home about six months ago, but the last six months have been so busy that I'm only now getting around to closing out this series of articles about my personal home buying journey!

Buying Our Home Has Been A Long Journey

To recap: We started out trying to buy a new construction condo only to find significant problems with the construction (and a difficult builder). We moved onto a great home which happened to be a short sale. This was almost our most difficult experience during the whole process. Next, an appraisal saved us from buying a home where the seller was lying about the square footage. We are so fed up at this point that we almost rushed into the wrong house. Next, we strike out with a difficult seller. Thank goodness that one did not work out, it's still on the market for much less than we offered! Betting that others found the seller just as difficult as us. Looking back on all of this, it's amazing we stuck with it! I'm proud to announce that today's article is the last in the series. It's all about the home we ended up buying that we have been thoroughly enjoying for the last six months! The moral of today's article: Everything ended up well for us and if you're saving up your down payment or ready to buy a home, stay focused on your goal and it will become reality.

We Knew Exactly Which Home We Wanted To Buy

I mentioned it in a few other articles, but something that helped us quite a bit was narrowing our selections down to two condo complexes. There are so many variables when trying to buy a home. Do you want a house or condo? Do you want a small place or a large place? Is a backyard important to you? How about age? Do you tend to like newer properties or older properties? When you haven't decided exactly what you're looking for, the whole process can be quite confusing and it's easier to make an impulse decision. By the end of this long journey, we had seen so many places that we are certain we wanted a condo in one of two different complexes, each built by the same builder about ten years ago. My advice to you: Try to iron out with as much precision as possible the exact type of home you want to buy. If you're still saving up your down payment, it's a perfect time to think thoroughly through all of these questions.

We Expanded Our Reality And Bought A More Expensive Condo

Now, throw all of that advice out to door, to an extent. With anything in life, there's always give and take. It had been six long months of trying to buy a home in one of these two complexes and it just didn't work. Something would have to give. We spent years and years saving up our house down payment and we didn't want to compromise and select another condo complex, we had our sights set. One day, I started thinking to myself, why not go for the expensive one! For a few weeks, there had been a more expensive (and larger) condo on the market in one of the complexes which was higher than the maximum mortgage amount we qualified for. Since it was out of our range, we immediately crossed it off the list. However, when we started looking closer it was really a gem of a unit. Moreover, if you look at the price per square foot metric, it was actually cheaper on that basis than some of the smaller units that had recently sold. At this point, our perspective changed from waiting for a small one to come up to thinking how we could afford the larger one. It's a rough economy right now. It would probably be easier to get the larger unit if we could afford it. It was time to expand our reality.

I Asked My Dad For A Down Payment Gift

At this point, it was a really easy conclusion. We didn't have enough down payment to buy the larger unit. However, if we had some help (and put more then 20 percent down), we would be able to buy it! I wrote my thoughts down on paper. We would get a better deal, in terms of price per square foot. We would get a larger unit and never have to move, even as our family expands because we now have an extra bedroom. My fiancee and I would have a better life together because of more space. Overall, the bigger unit made a lot of sense. I took these arguments to my dad and was able to get a down payment gift from him!

The Rest Is History - I Am Now A Homeowner

We ended up putting down a 30 percent down payment with the 23 percent we saved up and my dad's gift. This reduced the amount of the mortgage to a level that could be supported by our incomes. We went in with a "take it or leave it" offer (that was also fair) and it was accepted. There were some hiccups along the way (as there always is) such as having to get an extension from the seller to switch lenders (we had a bad experience with our original lender and did not feel comfortable staying with them). However, we were upfront with the sellers and did our best to establish a friendly relationship with them. This went a very long way and they were flexible on the timing. It all ended very well and we are now homeowners. The moral of all of this: Stick with it. It took several years to save up our down payment. It took over six months of very hard work to close the deal. However, it's all possible even in this bad economy. We're not rich. We're not even upper middle class. I would say we're lower middle class but working hard to increase our income. Despite these obstacles, we were able to make it happen and own the home of our dreams.

What's the plan going forward? We are setting our sights on paying off our 30 year fixed mortgage early. Once we own our home in full, we will have a greater extent of financial freedom and less need to work so hard. It's all about enjoying life, after all. However, this is not going to happen anytime soon. Owning a home is s a serious commitment. We have had difficulty saving money, but are working super hard to do so. Even though we're not saving for our down payment anymore, we're now saving up our security fund so we can have a cushion in the event that we need it. And, of course, we're saving to pay off the mortgage early. Have there been some troubles since we bought our home? I would say yes - life always carries it's challenges. The big one as of late is the possibility of a special HOA assessment. Are we worried? A little bit. However, that risk is mitigated because we purchased assessment insurance when we bought our condo. My advice to you: if you live somewhere with an HOA (homeowner's association), make sure you purchase special assessment insurance. Now, we will only have to pay the deductible which makes life a lot easier. So happy that summer is almost here. It will be the first summer we enjoy in our beautiful new home!

New: Homeownership has been absolutely amazing. However, it has not been without stress. Learn about our unexpected expenses of homeownership and why you should save for these expenses in addition to your down payment. Also, I just uploaded a new article all about my first two years of homeownership.

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