I think most of us dream about some very specific goals in life, one of them being buying your first home. This is especially the case after years of paying rent, and feeling like you’re literally just setting money on fire every month. Sure, you have to be grateful for the fact that you have a roof over your head, but you’ll never see the money you spend on rent ever again. In fact, home ownership is one of two indicators of ability to build wealth in one’s lifetime (alongside education). Which makes it no surprise that so many of us have worked, and are working, toward this huge achievement. But as the saying goes, “if it was easy, everyone would do it,” right? And I am here to tell you- it most certainly is not easy. Our first home-buying experience goes a little something like this:
Dan and I had been planning to buy a home in 2021 (so this year.. weird), after we had our wedding in September 2020. Well, of course, that didn’t happen, and once we had decided we’d be postponing the wedding, we turned our attention (and savings) toward the potential of buying a home. We hadn’t done a lot of serious research, but one weekend in June with nothing to do, we decided to drive around some neighborhoods and check out different houses. We came across a new development with an office for tours, and in we went. Of course, we fell in love immediately with the idea of building a new home, and by the next day we had signed the paperwork for a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home with a gorgeous view of the mountains.
We spent that whole summer going to brunch on Sundays (hello bottomless mimosas!) at a place near the new house, and then going to check out the progress on our way home. I have a photo of almost every week of construction- it was so cool to see our dream coming to life.
Finally, in the beginning of December, we received our closing date for December 18th. We were SO excited. We had set up home insurance, ordered furniture and appliances and put in our notice at our current apartment.
The first sign of trouble was a few days before the 18th, when we did our walk-through, prior to the final one. They warned us that they had been waiting to get the water meter inspected and set, and that our closing date might need to be postponed until they got the proper paperwork to close. The date ended up getting pushed to the 23rd of December. We thought okay that kind of sucks, but not a big deal- right?
Well, during that time, a welder went into the crawl space to complete some last minute work, and a spark ended up catching on some of the insulation and a fire was set. The welder had no idea what had happened when he left, so the fire burned for some time before a plumber came in to do his work, and smelled the smoke. He immediately called the fire department, and that night we got a call from our seller.
Of course we were super bummed, but we eventually made the difficult decision to void the contract and get our earnest money back. We figured it too big a risk to purchase a home with fire/smoke/foundational damage, especially when it was supposed to be brand new! It was a bit of an emotional transition realizing that we were back to apartment life for the time being, but now I am grateful we’ve been given the extra time. It seems like the universe loves to give us all the time we need lol the wedding, a house…
This experience was definitely eye-opening, and it made me more excited to start looking for a home when we are ready- again. Since exploring more this summer, we’ve realized there are some areas in Denver we’d rather live, and that, though my heart was set on a new build, it might be fun to find a house in need of some work that already has some character and personalized touches. This has also given us extra time to save, and it is kind of nice not having to worry about a mortgage, and all the other expenses you don’t think about that come with homeownership, for the time being.
My best advice when it comes to pulling the trigger on your first home is to listen to your gut. I feel like that’s my message with most things, but for real! If we had gone completely off emotions when making our decision to move forward with the house or not, we may have ended up with a lot of regret in the end. Yes, I had dreamed about all the projects I wanted to tackle there, the fun memories we would make, and the possibility of having babies while living there, but that didn’t take away the potential issues we might have faced. Plus, it felt like that fire was a HUGE sign from our guardian angels that this was not the house for us. My Dad worked in construction, and I truly believe he was looking out for us here. It was too big a sign not to listen, so we did.
Big decisions like this are not ones that should feel rushed or super difficult. We have instincts and loved ones looking out for us, and once the situation is right, it will all feel right and fall into place. At that point it might be a little scary because it will almost feel “too” easy, but I think that’s a good sign! Though we may be destined for apartment living for the time being, I can honestly say I am grateful for this experience and feel more ready to tackle this huge life step- as soon as the time is right. But for now, hello no yard work and being able to call maintenance whenever there’s an issue with the appliances- gotta love that!
What was your first home-buying experience like? Are you thinking about taking this next step? Share some tips you’ve learned and/or any stories you have- I’m all ears!