Lessons Learned in Purchasing My First Home

Learning by experience is a part of human existence. It’s an educational process that lets us understand things firsthand. It also allows us to learn from the mistakes of others. When it comes to purchasing your first home, hearing the experiences of others who were once in your shoes can help you avoid learning some tough lessons on your own.    

Based on our extensive experience helping people originate and manage home loans, and receiving feedback from our satisfied members about their real estate purchases, below are five key lessons that we find many people learn when they purchase their first home.

  1. Age Isn’t a Just a Number

If you’re considering buying a home that was built in an era that used different construction materials and methods than the ones we use today, have a professional inspector who has experience inspecting the vintage of the home inspect the operating systems of the house (e.g., HVAC, electrical, and plumbing).

The house may be fit now, but could you pay for age-related improvements totaling $50K or more in just a few years’ time, if you really had to? This is a question to consider before you buy an old home that has old systems in place.   

  1. Newer Isn’t Always Better

An old house can be a Chinese puzzle box of mysteries that needs to be examined by a series of inspectors to identify all problems, but new homes don’t inherently offer a better, long-term living experience. At a time when the residential real estate market has become a “seller’s market” again, new homes that are constructed more cheaply than they appear — and priced too high for what they offer — are becoming too salable again.

Before you buy a new home, be sure it isn’t a house of cards. Have a professional inspector examine the construction methods and building materials, and offer an independent opinion about the true lifespan of the implements that comprise the house.

  1. Know What You Can Invest

When you calculate the cost of owning a vehicle, you consider more than the monthly loan payment. The same goes for a new home. In addition to your mortgage payment, be sure to consider monthly utility expense, homeowner’s insurance, and annual property tax. If you plan to live within a homeowner association (HOA) community, you have a monthly association fee to consider, as well.

Remember this: The cost of purchasing a home and the cost of owning it are two different things.

  1. Neighbors Have Knowledge

People who have spent years living near a property have often seen hours’ worth of events occur on the property. Does the gas company show up frequently after strange smells are noticed? Has the residence often lost power, when nearby houses were unaffected? Has the residence experienced some unexplainable fires?

These are things your realtor may not be able to tell you, but they are things that neighbors can often reveal. As the old saying goes, “It pays to ask around.”    

  1. Not all Loans are Equal

Congratulations, you qualified for a low interest rate on your mortgage, but the rate is only locked in for the first two years of a 30-year contract. Are you getting a good deal? If you made the decision with the help of a professional home loan advisor, then probably so. If you agreed to the contract simply because of its initial terms and conditions, then perhaps not. Loan advisement is a highly underused service. Take advantage of your lender’s expertise.

Let Us Lend a Hand

American Eagle Credit Union is a longtime, financial subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union. We provide a full range of best-in-class financial products and services, and strive to help people save and spend money wisely. If you need financing to purchase your first home, call us today at (800) 325-9905, our use our contact form, to schedule a free consultation


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