Real Insight from Our Newest First Time Homeowners

First time home buyers are one of the most inquisitive group of people you will ever come across. They are a sponge for real estate knowledge as they embark on what will most likely be the largest purchase they’ll ever make in their lives. And the person that can best help today’s first time home buyer is a first time home buyer that has just completed the purchase of their first home.

First time home buyers are one of the most inquisitive group of people you will ever come across. They are a sponge for real estate knowledge as they embark on what will most likely be the largest purchase they’ll ever make in their lives. And the person that can best help today’s first time home buyer is a first time home buyer that has just completed the purchase of their first home.

It just so happens I work on this blog with two of those very types of people. Both Gustavo Gonzalez and Lindsay Listanski have bought their first homes in the last few months so I thought they would be best served to help provide some insight to other first time home buyers out there who are currently in the midst of this monumental purchase.

1. What was the biggest surprise you had now looking back at buying your first home?

Lindsay: For me it was actually experiencing the lack of inventory out there first hand. I expected to have dozens of homes in every town I was interested in to select from and that just wasn’t the case. There were weeks where I felt like I was seeing the same houses over and over with nothing new.

Gustavo: The whole financial aspect was surprising to me. I was really surprised to find out how property taxes impact the amount of home you can afford. During our First Time Homebuyers Week, Coldwell Banker Mortgage adviser Stephen Kulisek summed this up best when he said:

“In this market every $10,000 borrowed may cost you only about $45 per month on a 30 year fixed mortgage while every $1,000 in real estate taxes per year will cost you about $83 per month. This means that from town-to-town and in some cases even street-to-street your Buying Power can change by almost $20,000 with every $1,000 spent on real estate taxes”.

2. What part of the process was smoother than you expected?

Lindsay: The mortgage process was WAY smoother than I had anticipated. Yes, there is plenty of paperwork to fill out but truthfully it was painless. I worked with Coldwell Banker Mortgage and they were organized, professional and always super responsive when I needed anything. My best advice for a first time buyer is to take the time to create folders to stay organized. This takes the stress out of a somewhat chaotic period.

Gustavo: I had a different experience than Lindsay and found the mortgage process to be a bit overwhelming at times with a process that seemed disjointed and disconnected. To answer the question, closing day was infinitely smoother than I had expected with everything taking no more than 45 minutes. I remember getting the keys and thinking “Really, that’s it?” I also came to realize to a greater degree what my agent did to shield my girlfriend and I from the wrath of the impatient sellers.

3. Now that you own your own home, what’s the first thing project you’re taking on in your new home?

Gustavo: After looking at what felt like thousands of colors with weird names, we ended up painting our entire top floor (including our ceiling) within the first week. For some odd reason the previous owners of my condo were enamored with dark mustard colors in the kitchen and baby blue everywhere else so we changed that and made sure the only mustard in the kitchen was in the refrigerator. Now that we’re done with the paint job, we’re eagerly figuring out how to build floating bookshelves in our library.

Lindsay: We took on two projects within the first week of moving in. As soon as we were handed the keys we walked in, did a happy dance, and then ripped up all the carpet. Luckily there was hardwood underneath it because the carpets had a strong odor from the dogs that the previous homeowners had. After that we painted. My husband and I had so much fun doing this. After staring at white walls in our apartment for three years it was so nice to be able to “make our place our own.”

4. Is there really a different feeling now that you own a home?

Lindsay: Yes, truly there is. I pull in the driveway at night and I get a sense of pride knowing I achieved the dream of owning my own home. My husband and I feel like we have finally planted our roots. It also hurts way more when you put a scratch in the floor or ding in the wall knowing it is yours!

Gustavo: I wish I had a driveway to pull in to! All joking aside there is absolutely a different feeling. When you rent you can’t help but feel a bit ambivalent about things. Now find myself fretting over the smallest of details and agonizing over any scratch or scuff on our wood floors. I’ve noticed that my ESPN to HGTV viewing ratio is flip flopping which is concerning to my younger self, but I find myself searching everywhere for inspiration and ideas on what to do with our place next.

5. What is a tip you wish someone would have told you before buying a first home?

Gustavo: It’s extremely important to go out there and interview multiple agents to see who you have the best rapport with and who would be best to help you find that first home. Seeing how buying a home is probably the biggest single purchase you’ll make in your lifetime, working with someone you like and can trust is of the utmost importance. Thankfully I ended up working with a phenomenal agent, but I’ve heard a lot of stories from friends who didn’t feel that connection or commitment. Selecting that right agent can make all the difference in the world.

Lindsay: If you are buying with someone else make sure they are as committed to the process as you are. I was ready much earlier than my husband was and I drove him crazy and drove our agent crazy. We would find something that I loved and I was ready to pull the trigger when my husband was still trying to decide if he felt like he was even ready to be a homeowner. You HAVE to be on the same page so that when the right thing comes along you are ready to go.

6. What is the best house warming gift someone should get a new homeowner?

Lindsay: That’s an easy one.. Home Depot Gift Cards!

Gustavo: A driveway! Hmm, maybe a lawn mower too, with some advice on how to use the lawnmower without destroying everything (myself included).

Husband. Father. Socializer. Mets Lifer. TV Aficionado. Consumer Engager.

David Marine is the Chief Marketing Officer at Coldwell Banker, where he oversees the brand’s marketing efforts and content strategy including acting as managing editor for the Coldwell Banker blog and heading up video production efforts. While CMO by day, David runs a three ring circus at night as he is the father of 4 boys. He also happens to be married to Wonder Woman. True story.

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