So my husband, Victor, and I did a big thing a few weeks ago! That’s right, we bought our first home!!
I never could have imagined such for myself. I am so beyond grateful for this blessing and opportunity. From the moment we first walked in the door, it has felt not just like a house, but like our home. As I sit writing this looking out into our still-needs-some-work backyard, my heart is full.
Learning from Those Before Us
As wonderful and magical as buying our first home sounds, though, it wasn’t without a lot of hard work. And we definitely learned a thing or two throughout the process.
One of my biggest hopes is to pass along things I’ve learned to people behind me so that they will feel more equipped going into new seasons. Sometimes, I must admit, we want to learn things the hard way, we want to experience for ourselves the ups and downs of something new instead of just taking someone else’s word for it. That’s part of the fun of life! But buying a house, trust me, is not one of those things. The more you know going in, the better off you will be. The more you take in what those before you know, the easier the process will be….and it still won’t be easy.
Age is but a Number when it comes to Learning Something New
At 22 years old, buying a house is a big deal. It’s not the first thing I’ve done early in my life, either. In the day to day, I’m chugging along, and I don’t think a thing about being married, doing bills, or working my full time job. It’s not a race; it’s just my life.
Buying a house was the next natural step for me. Victor and I had been saving up, and God opened the door for this home so gracefully for us. It was nothing but Him that made this happen.
I felt struck with my novice, though, any time I let myself realize that I was 22 and buying a house. It was one of those fake smile, hyperventilating feelings. I was on and off the phone several times a day some days with the lender, the attorney’s office (we went for sale by owner with no realtors involved), or the homeowner’s insurance agency. Inside, I felt like a kid playing house or dressed up for career day hoping every moment that I wouldn’t be exposed for being the child in the room.
But I’m learning that it doesn’t matter how old you are. Any time you do something for the first time…it’s just that: the first time. Buying a house for the first time is like that for EVERYONE. It’s a lot. It’s new.
Having my sister and my mom around who both have been there, done that helped me out a lot. I hope that I, now having been there, done that, can help ease the newness for you, too.
What I Learned
I could give a lot of practical how-to’s at this point, and maybe I will in a follow up post, but that’s honestly not the most important thing when buying a house. Besides, things change from year to year and from situation to situation. It’s the intangibles that are worth knowing going in.
1. It’s okay not to know
Be humble and ask questions to the professionals and those who have walked where you’re walking. It can feel daunting and vulnerable to walk into something so very new and important. You may feel like you’re supposed to know the answers to all the questions, but you probably won’t. It’s okay to ask, “what does that mean,” “what are my options,” or even just say “let me get back to you on that.” There is absolutely no reason to be down on yourself when you’re learning something new.
When you’re on the phone with the realtor or the lender or whoever you may be speaking to, just remember that you are good. You’re new to the game, but you’re smart and you’re capable. Being smart, though, doesn’t mean knowing everything, it means you’re able to learn. And the best way to learn is to ask. And, hey, if you feel like your question is silly, just remind yourself that Rebecca over here asked the lady at the insurance office what a pool was…I couldn’t understand what she was saying when she asked if our new home had a pool, so I said “what’s that? Is that a plumbing thing?” and she just paused, “….a swimming pool?” It’ll be hard to feel much more silly than I did in that moment!!
If you can be humble now, you will learn more in the long run. The professionals are there for a reason. They’ve been around the block, and so have your parents, aunts and uncles, coworkers, and other mentors in your life. Use your resources.
2. It’s important to learn
Just as much as it’s okay not to know something, it’s important to learn the things you don’t know. Don’t just go with what’s being said or done throughout the process of buying your first house. Instead, take the time to dig in and learn what things mean.
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It’s empowering to take charge of the business of your family. The more you learn, the more empowered you become. It’s easy to just take someone’s word for something, but there’s no real benefit to that. It may seem like less hassle at the moment, but it tends to result in more stress because deep down you know that you don’t know. Ask the questions, do the research, and get your feet wet. You don’t have to become an expert to learn what’s what when buying a home. You want to be able to speak knowledgeably and bring yourself fully to the table. It’s a self-esteem booster, and at the end of the process, you won’t feel left in the dark because you will know you have taken the steps to learn throughout the process.
3. Patience and One thing at a time
It’s nice to be ahead, but truth is, life looks more like the thing that’s right in front of you. When buying a house, that’s your only option. I must admit, it was difficult for me to want to keep chugging at the one-thing-at-a-time pace. I like to do as much as I possibly can, get my work done with efficiency, finish my part of the group project, bring things to completion in as short a fashion as possible while still getting it done with excellence. During the house buying process, I had to learn and practice being patient and focusing just on the task in front of me. While I knew what the end goal was, like in an obstacle course race, I had to set my complete attention on the individual obstacle in front of me. Only by tackling one thing at a time with precision and patience can the end goal be achieved.
Take a deep breathe and do the next item on the to-do list. The pros and those people that have gone before you that you are looking to for guidance will be there to help you figure out what the next step is at each point in the process. When you give your full attention to each step, you’ll be able to ask better questions, and you’ll learn more as you progress.
4. Keep your peace
In the process of doing something new, it’s easy to get off kilter and lose your peace. Decide on the front end to keep your peace. Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable in the process. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to your accountability partner instead of losing your cool. Nothing is worth losing your peace over, not even buying a house.
There will be countless situations that make you feel like your peace is dangling by a thread. Someone will ask you a question you don’t know the answer to. You’ll have to sit on the phone for way longer than seems necessary. You’ll have to submit a docusign for the 117th time. Take a deep breath and make your next move. Find your center and keep it. Live from a place of equilibrium where you’re peace is set internally rather than by external circumstances. And give yourself the time to find your peace each day. It will be well worth it in the end to not only have accomplished your goal but to have accomplished it with your peace and wholeness intact.
5. Hard work pays off
And in the end, it all proves worth it. There is something to be said for a little bit of hard work and digging in. There are moments over and over in the process when it feels easier to give up. But, take heart. Hard work always pays off. And when it comes to buying a house, that rule of thumb stands. The moment the keys land in your hands, all the phone calls, the signatures, the pages and pages of paperwork seem to fade into the background of this great feat you have accomplished.
There is always an exchange to be made. In this case, it’s your time, energy, and money in exchange for a place to call your own. It’s years of hard work saving up and weeks of painstaking step-by-steps in exchange for something truly priceless: home.
The Big Picture
Turns out, the things I learned buying my first house are the same things that we all learn when we try anything new for the first time. I’m one of those people that likes to work on something behind the scenes where no one can see me fail and then WAPOW! Show off my skills once I’ve mastered the new thing. But life doesn’t often work like that. Instead, it looks like setting aside our pride and stepping up to the plate.
One thing’s for sure, the process of buying our first home gave me the opportunity to grow day in and day out. Some days I did well, and other days I let the little frustrations build up and bubble over. I felt a whole lot better on the days that I chose to let peace reign from the inside out. And I’ve carried the lessons I learned into my daily life now. If I can keep my peace, stay humble and teachable, and take one thing at a time when the pressure is on and the lawyer’s calling, I can surely do the same at home with my husband, or with my sister, or with my coworkers, or with my family and friends.
So then it comes down to this: Set yourself in a position to learn, find your inner well of peace, and live from that humble place. When that state of being becomes your home, you will have a much easier time facing new things for the first time, including buying your first home.