We bought our home with a mortgage in May of 2019 and took some time to reflect on our experience about a year and a half later. Find out about all of our highs and lows during our home buying experience and why we almost didn’t close on the house.
The Good: Our Preparation
Something we encourage everyone to do is research. Whether it’s before you get student loans, a credit card or a mortgage, learn everything you can before you sign on the dotted line. We did our research on the home buying process, mortgage lenders and first-time home buyer mistakes and this was really beneficial to us. The amount of knowledge we gained from this was one of the reasons we actually started The Loaded Pig. If you are looking to take a big financial or life step, do yourself a favor and take the time to LEARN.
Aside from researching the ins and outs of mortgages, we researched the geographical areas we were interested in. We weren’t looking far from where we lived at the time and had spent most of our lives, so we had a good understanding of the areas. But, you still don’t really know crime rates and school ratings until you search for it. We wanted to ensure that we were mindful of the factors that cause properties to appreciate over time.
After we compared several lenders and were pre-qualified for a mortgage, we made our list of “needs” and “wants.” For us, the most helpful thing we had done before looking to buy a house was rent several apartments together. Not only did we use that time to improve our credit and money management skills, but the advantages and disadvantages of each place we rented really helped guide us.
Looking back now, the best financial preparation that we took before buying a house was estimating the monthly costs of home ownership for several of our favorite properties. This is where the homeowners association fees, maintenance and lawn care come into play. We estimated on the high end for expenses that we were unsure of, like electricity, water and internet, and used exact figures for the numbers we could find. This really helped us weed out the properties that were nicer, but riskier financially based on how high the monthly costs would be. Read our article, Important Monthly Costs of Owning A Home You Need To Consider, to learn more.
Check out our credit card guide to find a card suited to your credit and to learn more about managing your credit.
The Bad: Our Mortgage Lender
We compared several lenders and based on interest rates, commission/lenders fees and ease of use, we picked Better Mortgage. This seemed like a sound decision at the time, especially since they have no commission or lenders fees which saved us $1-2K at closing. However, all that sparkles is certainly not gold.
It’s a good thing that our employers at the time were understanding of our situation, because we had to talk on the phone with our “loan ranger” multiple times a day. This was despite Better touting their “easy online process.” We were asked to upload the same documents over and over again and explain the same things multiple times. They were hard to work with, unorganized, and it seemed like we rushed to get everything done as quickly as possible and they rarely did.
Even though we had planned for a much longer closing period than their average, because of the closing date we picked, they still allowed a significant surprise to pop up ONE week from closing. The underwriter found that they had estimated the taxes incorrectly and because of this we would have to pay off $10K on an auto loan THAT DAY in order to bring our debt-to-income ratio down. Otherwise we wouldn’t close on the house. Fortunately, we were able to do this and the silver lining was that because of their mistake they lowered our interest rate.
Despite getting a lower interest rate without paying any points, the level of customer service we experienced at Better Mortgage fell far below our expectations. Especially because we had excellent credit and put over 20% down.
The Ugly: The Sellers
Finally closing day arrived! At this point we just wanted to close on the house after all of the mortgage chaos. Our final walk-through was scheduled in the morning a few hours before closing. We were surprised to find that the sellers were still packing up the house for about 30 minutes after our scheduled time to do the walk-through.
Before we went inside we noticed that they had the garbage and recycling rolling bins overflowing near the street and other random junk laid around them. We quickly checked the HOA rules and found that this was not permitted and we could be fined. So we talked to our realtor and he told them they had to take care of the trash, that we would not be responsible for it. They agreed after some back and forth and moved it from our driveway to the next door neighbor’s and claimed that the neighbor agreed to put it out on trash day and bring the bins back to our house. We considered having our realtor come up with a quick agreement that we would withhold some amount of the purchase price of the house until this was resolved, but we decided not to. That was a mistake.
During the closing, the sellers exchanged phone numbers with us and told us to let them know if we had any questions. They also kind of rudely told us to take care of the house, but alas we were homeowners! After closing, we returned to the house to start cleaning and were shocked to find the trash back in our driveway and no neighbors to be found. We texted the sellers and didn’t get a reply. We spent that evening throwing all of their trash in trash bags because they used the bins like a dumping ground and we had to return to the house before we moved in to take the trash out several times to get rid of it all.
The Bottom Line
We love our home and have really enjoyed living here since June of last year. It checked off all of our “needs” boxes and most of our “wants” as well. The mortgage process was grueling and our experience with the sellers was truly terrible.
That being said, we are so thankful to live in a lovely home in a great area. We would have changed a few things during the home buying process, but one thing we both agree on is that we couldn’t have picked a better place to call home.
There was no website or podcast that could have fully prepared us for our home buying experience. And that was because they all say the same facts, but lack personal experience. We wanted to change that.
This is the home buying advice that we were missing:
- Learning everything you can about the home buying process will not prepare you for the frustrations you may encounter with the lender and sellers.
- Don’t trust anyone. Get everything in writing, even if it’s something as small as trash left on your driveway.
- Interest rates might tank in a year, so don’t take that personally.
Check out the home buying section of our website to learn more.
Financial freedom begins with good habits.Rebecca & Tiago, theloadedpig.com