It’s been a little over a year since me and my fiance bought our first home together! Before buying my first house, I had lived with my parents, college housing, and then an apartment for a brief time. I jumped into home ownership exactly how i’ve jumped into things most of my life..head first and eyes closed! Not the best idea. I’ve made some mistakes, and a year later i’m here to tell you them. A few of these may surprise you, some may have you nod your head in agreeance and hopefully some will spare you from making the same mistake!
Overestimated how much space I need
When we started our house search, I was dead set on buying a house with at least 3 bedrooms..for some reason I believed that I should buy the biggest house my money could afford.
I believe this is a total downfall of American culture..we equate success with big home, new things, the bigger the better! When in fact I didn’t need a house this size.
Brian and I moved from a 900 sq. ft. apartment into a 2,000 sq foot home. We didn’t have any furniture, and for months rooms sat vacant. A year later 2 rooms still have nothing in them..and our two extra bedrooms are just furnished enough to make them seem not empty but they serve no real purpose.
After a year of living in this house, I wish daily we could shrink it. We don’t plan on having kids anytime soon, we don’t have guests over often..and truly it’s a waste of space. I dream about the day we can downsize! The pressure to fill up the house just so it’s not oddly empty weighs on me, however I don’t need anymore anything.
Maintaining a lot is no joke.
Another requirement on our list was land. We wanted as much land as our money could afford. I mean are we pioneers..why did I think I needed an acre of wooded and complicated land?
Our 1970’s home sits on .75 of an acre but most days it feels larger. The yard is sloped and we have over 50 mature trees on our property which equates to constant cleanup of branches, leafs and pine needles.
Our yard is too shady to grow grass, but we have a mixture of sand, clay, moss and a plethora of weeds. The lot is so much for us to maintain that we have had to hire a company to maintain the lot which is an unexpected cost we didn’t anticipate. When we bought the house, the lot was impeccable and beautifully landscaped..the couple who lived here before us were retired and spent hours a week doing yard work. As two young working professionals, my fiance and I have zero time to commit to our yard. This is our 2nd biggest regret about this home.
We do love having a huge yard for our dog and for privacy, but realized we’d be just as happy with 1/4 of an acre and just a few trees. If you don’t have time to maintain a lot, it just feels like a burden and less like a fun space to enjoy.
Cosmetic updates are not “cheap”
If you’ve spent any time perusing my blog or scrolling through my Instagram, you’ll know I have done a ton of thrifty makeovers. I spent an hour the other day adding up what i’ve spent sprucing up my entire house and it’s less than $2,000 over the last year, which is pretty dang good considering what we started with.
However, I remember viewing the home and seeing all of the outdated things I would want to change. In my head they were simple and cheap weekend projects. Painting a wall here, changing a light fixture there..etc. What I didn’t anticipate (because I have never owned a home or lived in an older house) is how much time each little change takes. I’ve busted my butt to get this far with my house..and all those cosmetic changes are great, but now there are things that need changed that aren’t cosmetic.
For instance, we have 20 doors in our house and I decided they all need painted..a year in and 6 of those doors are finished. The carpet desperately needs replaced, the kitchen and bathrooms could use a good overhaul, and the popcorn ceilings are haunting my dreams. Which brings me to my next mistake..
Buying a fixer upper as your first home sounds appealing..
We got a good deal on our home. It was structurally sound and the maintenance was ideal – the previous home owners took care of everything perfectly. However this was our first home, and we knew when we bought the house we didn’t want to stay here forever. This is where things get tricky.
We want to fix up the house to raise the value and enjoy living in it, but don’t want to sink money into it that we won’t get back. We want to move within the next 2 years..so finding the fine line between unnecessary upgrades and value raisers is a hard line to find.
As much fun as I’ve had renovating this house, sometimes I wish I could spend my weekends doing other things. I love my thrifty revivals and home decor is kind of my life..but I’ve have a shift in perspective. A small house with less spaces that need TLC would be ideal for me and the stage of life i’m in right now. This is definitely something to think about when buying a home.
Rushing to buy.
We live in a booming housing market..we bought our first house 8 hours after it went on the market. Within those 8 hours we were in a bidding war with 2 other applicants and ended up paying 10k over asking price. This was how it was happening all around our city so this is what we expected.
We had been house hunting for about a month when we found our house and I was so nervous that we’d never find a house we could afford so we jumped on it.
We didn’t think much, because we didn’t think we’d have the time to think. Let me tell you, it’s ok to think. Not too long of course, but waiting and weighing our options would’ve been smart on our end.
I don’t like to live with regrets, but I am much smarter now with rushing on big decisions. Patience is a virtue for sure.
I was thrilled that we have no HOA (homeowners association) in our neighborhood. This means no approval for exterior things..no nosey complaining neighbors, bonfires when I want..etc. However some neighbors take this leniency way too far and don’t maintain their lots, have cars parked in their front yard, and burn fires at all times of the day.
When we buy again, I will either buy far out from a neighborhood and be part of no community or buy in a neighborhood with an HOA. It has shown to be a curse in disguise!
Things I did right with our first home! It’s not all bad.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. The location of our home couldn’t be more ideal. We are so close to everything, live in a beautiful older established neighborhood and have a stunning lot. This location is what sold us the house and what will be our saving grace when selling it again.
Not waiting to renovate. We started renovating this house before we even moved in technically, which was a great move on our part. If I wouldn’t have had a gust of motivation at first, I probably wouldn’t have come this far with the house!
Take away lesson…and where we stand now.
I do not regret buying our first home, as it was an investment and a huge life lesson. I now know I can be happy and prefer to live minimally and smaller! I understand the importance of location, of biting off more than I can chew, and realize my wants and needs as two separate things.