Buying a House

So You Want to Buy a House: What Now?

There are so many articles out there that guide you through the process of buying a house.  As my husband and I dreamed of one day buying a house of our own, I read through hundreds of articles and posts.  Every single one of them fell short, though.  There was something missing from all of them that left me confused and frustrated and it took me way too long to figure out what they were missing.  I finally realized, none of their lists, directions, and how-to’s started from the beginning.

When you want to buy a house, it starts as a dream.

You fantasize about what your home will look like, the memories that will be created there, and the sense of comfort it will provide.  I’m no stranger to those fantasies. If you’re reading this, I’m going to guess that you’ve been dreaming this dream for a while now.

How to make your dream a reality.

If you want to make your dream a reality, your first step is going to be making that dream a little more realistic.  While I know it’s not unheard of (thank you HGTV), buying your dream house with a multi-million dollar budget at the ripe old age of 24 when your only source of income comes from your 9-5 as a barista is pretty darn unlikely.

Look at your dream and decide which aspects are ones that you’re not willing to compromise on, regardless of budget.  For me, that was three bedrooms to grow our family, a dining room where we could share family meals, and a big back yard to play in.

For you, this could be an en suite bathroom and an internal garage or a condo in the city with a wonderful view.  You see what I’m getting at.  Break it down and pick which ones are non-negotiable for you.

See also: How to Create a Realistic Household Budget and Maintain It

Start researching early.

Once you’ve figured out what your essentials are, it’s time to do some research.  Chances are, you already have a location in mind that is either close to your office, has great school districts, or is just the right distance from your family.

I need to stress with the utmost importance, you are only doing research at this point.  Do not, I repeat, do not allow yourself to become emotionally invested in any of the homes you find during your research.

I recommend that you start looking around on to get an idea of what the market looks like.  If location was one of your essentials, you’re going to be looking at all of the homes that meet your essential criteria in your desired neighborhood.

If location is not one of your essential criteria, look at homes that fulfill your essentials list in the different neighborhoods of your desired area.

Let me show you why this is so important.

Blawnox, Pennsylvania is a very quaint little suburb of Pittsburgh along the Allegheny River.  Homes here sell for an average of $150,000.  Now, if you look at the neighboring suburb of Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, it’s an entirely different story.  Homes in Fox Chapel regularly sell for well over $1,000,000.  These towns are less than 3 miles apart and the houses are selling for over a million dollar difference in some instances.

(Go ahead and get lost looking at those gorgeous homes in Fox Chapel.  They’re totally worth it!)

See also: Five Essential Chores to Keep a Clean House

Why are you researching anyway?

Researching is important because is gives you a framework for your savings goal.  One of the first (and biggest) hurdles of buying a house is saving for a down payment and for the closing costs.  I’m going to assume that most everyone knows you need to have a down payment when you buy a house but there’s no set dollar amount for how much you need to save.  Your research shows you what your dollar amount needs to be.

How much you need to save.

When you do your research, take note of the listing prices.  Have an idea as to the highest (and lowest) you are willing to spend on a house.  Even though you may not end up paying anywhere close to that number, I want you to use it as a reference for how much you need to save for your down payment.

Look at the highest listing price that you are realistically able to spend and make your saving’s goal 20% of that price.  For example, if you are only comfortable spending $100,000 on a house, your saving’s goal is going to be $20,000.



You’re ready to move to the next step of buying a house!

Now that you have a saving’s goal, you’re ready to move to the next step of the home buying process: Saving For a Down Payment and the Closing Costs.

  • I would love to be able to buy a house at the end of the year! My dream is to have a garden again. There is no room for one where I am now, renting a tiny room in an apartment. I can’t wait to read the next steps after creating a dream!

    • Oh that would be fantastic. I’ve never been much of a gardener (my thumb is perpetually brown) but I love to do things in the yard to clean it up and make it more usable. Good luck with your goals in the upcoming years!

  • Chelsey Horne

    These are great tips for first time home buyers!

  • Amazing tips! I’ve been thinking about my saving goals for 2018 with a first time house purchase in mind. House are extremely expensive in the Bay Area, but if we start to look a little further out there are so many more options available.

    • It is amazing what becomes available when you broaden your horizons just a little. I hope you’re able to reach your goal and buy a house this upcoming year!

  • So many great tips! Buying our house was the most stressful thing we’ve had to do, but so worth it! Now we are looking to move again soon and I’m bracing myself 😉

    • Oh that’s so exciting! We go back and forth about this being a starter home or a forever home. Only time will tell!

  • Buying a house was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. But I’m glad I have one… Most of the time…

    • It really is incredibly stressful but I agree 100%. I’m so incredibly happy to be a homeowner.

  • Lynn White

    These are great tips. Zillow and were my best buddies when we were looking for a house. I’d also add make a list of wants and needs.

    • I had tried but I loved the layout of Zillow. I think you are right, too. Wants and needs need to be examined because sometimes they can be confused and it’s important to know the difference.

  • Shannon Paige

    Great tips- looking for our first house (and first time moving out ever) right now. It is going to be such a process but going to try to enjoy it as much as possible. Definitely try that you can go one town over and spend so much more money!

    • Congratulations! It really is a process, especially when you tackle both of those at the same time. Good luck and I really hope you do enjoy it. It’s such an exciting time.

  • I remember this process back before we bought our house. I wish we had looked into it a bit more, but we definitely know what to look for the next time around!

    • I feel like the first time you buy a house is such a messy process. Hindsight is always 20/20.

  • Interesting post, thanks for sharing. Home owning isn’t on my cards at the moment and unless I win the lottery I don’t think it ever will be. But you never know!!!