It only took us a month and a half to find and purchase our first home, but the journey to get there was actually a very long one.
We’ve been married since August 2008, but for the majority of our marriage, we lived in what we knew were temporary situations, and we weren’t saving money or thinking about the long-term future.
Shortly after getting married, we lived overseas for 8 months and lived off donations while we did missions work. For 3.5 years, we lived in Baton Rouge while Hunter went to law school and lived off my salary in a tiny shoebox-sized apartment. For 3 years, we rented a duplex in DeRidder during Hunter’s law clerkship and started paying off his student loans.
Finally, six months after moving here to Shreveport-Bossier, where we were living with my in-laws, we attended a Dave Ramsey class and got serious about preparing for the future. For almost two years, we squirreled away money to go toward our down payment (we wanted to do 20 percent). Once I finally found a full-time job, the majority of my paycheck went to savings every single pay period.
Sometimes I felt like it was never going to happen. I would morosely look at houses on Zillow and get upset that we still weren’t in a place to buy a house. But finally, this past spring, we were ready.
First, in early April, we went and bought some new bedroom furniture at a store that was going out of business. This was my first step towards saying to myself — “It’s really going to happen, we’re definitely getting a house!”
We got a queen-sized sleigh bed (after years of sleeping on Hunter’s full-size bed he’d had since high school) and a matching dresser.
We then set up a meeting with a Realtor who was recommended to us by friends, and sat down to chat with her on a Sunday afternoon — Tax Day, April 15. She was so awesome and helpful, and that night she sent us several listings that fit what we were looking for.
That Saturday, April 21, we went and looked at 7 houses with her, which was super fun for me because I had been compulsively watching House Hunters and wanted to experience what I’d been seeing on the show 😉
There was one house that had been my favorite ever since I’d seen it on Zillow, and I held my breath when we arrived, hoping that it would be as nice in real life as it was in the pictures.
It was! After sleeping on it that night, we eliminated 5 of the houses we’d looked at and knew we were seriously considering two others — my favorite house, and a smaller, less expensive house that had some super nice renovations inside.
While we didn’t sit on our hands and we kept the process moving along quickly, our Realtor was so helpful in also making sure everything was taken care of right away. When we told her about our two favorite houses, she set up second showings that same week at both, then worked up comparisons for us and got rate sheets from our mortgage lender.
Less than a week after looking at houses, we made an offer on the finalist, the house that had been my favorite ever since I first saw it on Zillow. We decided to go with that house over the smaller one because after looking at the rate sheet, there wasn’t a huge difference in the monthly mortgage payment, and we knew we’d grow out of the smaller house too quickly.
We went back and forth with the seller just a few times over the next couple of days, and on April 27 — 12 days after we first met with our Realtor — we were under contract for the house! Closing date was set for May 30.
The next month went by so quickly. There was only one hiccup — the roof was original to the house (built in 2005), and a recent hail storm had damaged it badly. We asked the sellers to make an insurance claim, which they did, and then we ultimately agreed to pay for half of the deductible.
We got to go pick out the shingle color, and it was so easy after that. The roof was put on very quickly, and it was such a relief to know that wouldn’t be something we’d have to deal with in the near future.
We went through the inspection, picked out flooring to replace the laminate and carpet that was in the house, and started packing! The night before closing, my husband had left the cashier’s check for the down payment in his desk at work. I freaked out because I wanted to have it physically in my possession — that money had been taken out of our bank account and it was A LOT! So at like 8 PM that night, we drove back to his office to get it, haha.
On May 30, closing went off without a hitch. We celebrated with lunch, then went by the house to check it out.
That was when we discovered that the A/C, which had been working fine through the walk-through the previous day, was out! I could not believe it! Thankfully we had a home warranty, and they covered the cost of getting the A/C looked at and repaired (it did not need to be fully replaced).
One project I undertook while waiting to be able to move in was painting our kitchen table and chairs. I did not like the old wood color and wanted something different. I ended up getting Valspar chalk paint at Lowe’s and it was incredibly easy to get the job done — just took several hours and coats, plus a wax seal finish.
The next frustration was waiting for our floors to be replaced so we could actually start moving in. The A/C was only broken for two days, but that pushed back the flooring job, and then there was a problem with the material not being ordered, which pushed it back ANOTHER week.
We weren’t changing the tile floors in the kitchen, so we ended up moving a bunch of boxes in there and in the garage to wait to be unpacked. We finished moving out of our storage unit June 2, but it wouldn’t be until June 15 that the floors were finished and we could actually start putting our beds together and moving stuff into their proper rooms.
My parents came to visit that first weekend we were finally living in the house, and they were a huge help getting our washer/dryer and new kitchen sink faucet installed, replacing the mailbox, fixing the flower bed and more. Then we had a new over-the-range microwave installed, and finally at the end of June, our new couches were delivered from Wayfair.
Moving into a new house was SO exhausting, and if I’d have realized how much work it was going to be, I’d have taken off a week of work to deal with it! We have now been all moved in for almost four weeks, and the novelty has not worn off yet. I love it!
I was really leery about going into this process because I knew absolutely NOTHING. My husband knew a few things, but he also wasn’t super knowledgeable about the process. My top tip would be to find a super helpful Realtor who knows their stuff and will explain things to you thoroughly and who will advocate for you to get the best options possible.
Our Realtor was such an expert on everything and was very upfront with us about what she knew regarding the neighborhoods, the quality of local builders, contractors, everything. Because our Realtor was so awesome, the process was *almost* painless!