Might Be Buying My First House - What Should I Know?

So my boyfriend and I have been together about 6 years, living together for one (were long distance for awhile), and we’ve been living this past year in a house, renting. We decided awhile ago we might like to buy, so we started looking. We have a buyer’s agent helping.

We’ve looked at a million online (or so it feels like) and many in person. I think we’ve finally found the one. We wanted it in a certain area - near where we live now since it’s a good area and close to highways and in the middle of our places of work, and we wanted a 2 car garage (near impossible around here), and we didn’t want a real fixer-upper - wanted the main living areas to be move in ready minus paint etc.

So today we did a second viewing on the one and I brought my parents along, mostly because my father has been a professional carpenter/home remodeler/all around home expert for 30 years and I wanted him to see if he could spot anything jacked up off the bat (I know there will be an inspection etc but if he could spot anything bad with just his eyes and the flashlight he brought…) and he deemed it a damn nice house, nothing really wrong at all he could spot.

We are meeting with our agent in about 45 minutes to get serious about paperwork, etc. Today was an actual open house and there was a good crowd, so we can’t dawdle.

Any advice for a green homebuyer/homeowner?

Everyone is going to lie to you, Everyone.

Are you buying this with your boyfriend, or are you buying your own house that you will live in with him?

Have you researched the sale history on the house? That info should be available from the county assessor. Where I live, that information is available online. If you know how much the previous owners paid for the house (and how long ago they bought it), that can help you in deciding what to offer.

Also, if you are already approved for financing or have cash in hand (anything that means you don’t have to wait on a mortgage application to be approved), that is to your advantage in negotiating. Many a seller has had a deal fall through at the last minute because the buyer couldn’t get financing.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

I would normally say hurry up and offer, but I guess that is regional. For many of the houses that we looked at around here, they are under contract within 2 days or less. It sounds like you have a little more time to consider things in your area, which is nice.

The bf actually went ahead and put in an offer tonight. He is putting his name on everything, mine won’t be on it legally until/unless we get married then my name will go on the title. I will be paying towards the mortgage though. But since he has good credit and a very good job, he didn’t need me to jump on to qualify to buy this home so I didn’t. I am the one with a car note and grad school debt and and the underpaying job :o But even though it’s him sticking his neck out there, he considers it ‘our’ thing since I will be paying as equally as I can and it will be ‘our’ home.

Our buyer’s agent called the seller’s agent and there was some other interest but no other offers yet. We put in an offer, using comps, that was about 8% below the asking plus closing costs. We expect it to be rejected with a counter, but based on those comps etc we think they are a little overpriced so we think we can make this happen. We asked for a response tomorrow by 5. I would not be surprised if they got a back-up offer since a lot of other similarly priced homes are not as nice (this one is small but it’s well kept/updated, most of the ones priced the same are bigger but crappier) and there was a nice crowd at the open house today. We are in an area with all older (50+) homes so a lot are still ‘diamond in the rough’ status and we are not the Property Brothers. The rest of the homes out here are very expensive which prices a lot of people out.

This right here is not a great idea, IMO. What happens if you two break up? You’ve paid all this money towards the mortgage but have no interest in the property. If you’re going to put money towards the mortgage you should insist on being on the title. If you’re not on the title, then you should figure out a way to contribute to the household in a different way.

It looks like I can probably be put on the title at closing even though I am not on the mortgage, so this can be a point of discussion for sure, and as long as in our state it wouldn’t screw anything up, I don’t see anyone raising issue with it.

I don’t see a problem as long as she doesn’t (financially) see the house as “hers” until they get married. His name is on the mortgage, his name is on the title. That makes sense. Before they get married, she is essentially just paying “rent,” just like if he had a guy roommate.

If they breakup, its his house and his responsibility to pay the mortgage back.

The scariest nights of my life were:

  1. First night in our first home, when the realization hit that we had just agreed to 30 FREAKING YEARS of substantial payments on this house, due monthly, NO MATTER WHAT!
  2. First night at home with our 1st child. Oh, crap, I’M A DAD! How does THIS work?

Buying a home is a big step, and often a couple’s first huge financial commitment. It can be scary.

I had a condo that I bought with a tiny down-payment. What I didn’t know was that my very small equity (due to tiny down payment) made it impossible to sell, as there was no equity to pay a real estate broker. When I bought, I was in a field of business that was about to undergo some serious changes.

If you are contributing to the mortgage, then it would be very prudent to get your name on that title right after escrow closes, regardless of how solid your relationship is.

  1. I agree with others that contributing towards the mortgage on a handshake (or kiss-kiss) basis is a recipe for heartache and disaster.

  2. If it’s not a fixed-rate mortgage, don’t do it.

If she’s paying rent, she should have a lease. If she’s paying the mortgage, she should have her name on the property.

My moment like this came a few weeks after we bought our house. I went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, and nothing came out. I was all set to call the management office, when I remembered that we weren’t renting any more, and there was no management office. I was on the hook for figuring out how to deal with this myself.

Fortunately, there was online news, and I found out that the problem was a water main break. Owning a home is another thing I’m not sure how people did before there was Google and online news.

Stuff is going to go wrong. Don’t kid yourself and say it isn’t because this is a new house, or because old houses are built better than new ones, or because you looked it over before you bought it. Even if nothing is wrong with the house now, stuff breaks. Things like water heaters don’t last forever.

Angie’s List is a good resource for finding a decent plumber or electrician when something does go wrong and needs fixed now. Google is your friend, too. If you know someone who is handy and willing to answer questions, that’s good, too.

Any problem involving water where it shouldn’t be is generally one that needs to be dealt with now, or at least today, rather than later. Water is an incredibly destructive force.

You’re getting a lawyer to handle the closing, right? If not, my first advice is, get one.

Next advice is to discuss the title/lease/co-owner type issues with the lawyer. He can explain your options and makes sure you go into it with your eyes open.

Good luck!

K lemme make sure I understand this:

The boyfriend’s name’s on the mortgage and title. Financially, you’re completely out of it until you two marry (*if *you ever do) – however you “get” to help pay his mortgage in the meantime?

No, there’s no possible way you’ll get screwed over in this deal, none at all.

It’s time to get married, hon. You’ve been together for 6 years and shacking up for 1 year already so the whole “don’t wanna rush into anything” argument just doesn’t hold water in my book. There’s absolutely no reason to NOT get married considering the two of you are about to commit to paying off “your” house together for 30 years – what, he can commit to a building for the next 30 years but can’t commit to you, the woman he loves?

If he balks at marriage at this point, he has no intention of marrying you and is just jerking you around until he finds someone else … and in the meantime, he’ll use you to help pay off his house.

I hope I’m wrong, I want to be wrong, I pray I’m wrong, but I’ve seen SO many women fall for shit like this that I’m cynical. Protect yourself!

I’ve seen enough episodes of “Judge Judy” to agree with this - paying the mortgage without getting any equity (and also without any recourse if your boyfriend wants to kick you out or sell the house out from under you) isn’t a good idea. I also agree that you should buy it with your boyfriend (both names on the title) or create a specific agreement for you to pay rent to him, with all the rights and obligations that come with being a tenant.

Regarding buying a house - the first thing you will probably need to find is your local big-box hardware store, since you’ll be spending a lot of time there in future weekends. :slight_smile:

On the other hand, it is a truly awesome feeling to know that you can make that house and yard into what YOU want it to be - take walls out, put walls in, change the whole yard, change the way the house looks, it’s all up to you (unless you have a Homeowner’s Association that tells you what you can’t do).

Your house is NOT a substitute for a 401(k) or an IRA. It is especially not an ATM where you can use home equity loans to get money for anything you want. Houses can and do go down in value- ask someone who had to sell a house in California, Las Vegas, or Florida in the past few years if you doubt this. I don’t know what your local housing market is like, but there is no market anywhere where a house is guaranteed to go up in value.

You want a fixed rate mortgage. Period. Interest rates are near historic lows. Your salary is not guaranteed to go up over time, nor is his, so don’t assume you’ll be able to afford more in a few years. Don’t assume you’ll be able to refinance easily if you need to- refinancing has gotten a lot harder in the past few years.

Don’t be house-poor. The safest thing to do is to ignore equity and the mortgage interest deduction, and budget for your mortgage the same way you did for rent.

Seconding everything Anne Neville said. It’s all the opposite of the thinking that led so many otherwise sensible people to disaster in the last decade. There hasn’t been a better time to nail down a fixed mortgage in our lifetimes; it could be the anchor of your financial success and stability, not through inflation of the house value but by reducing your housing costs for the next 10-15 years. Free money.