I Bought A Condo.
I knew that I wanted to buy a home before getting my first & only apartment which I had for almost 3 years. It wasn’t something I had really put serious thought into until I added up how much money I had thrown away in rent over the years & how my rent continued to rise every year.
If I had bought a home sooner, a good chunk of my home would’ve been paid for considering my rent was nearly twice my current mortgage.
My rental lease ended in January 2017 which was right before I went to California for work. Once I got confirmation that I would be relocating to California, I made a plan. My entire plan from day 1 was to place all my materials in storage, pay off my $8k credit card bill (don’t even get me started on that ) and save everything else. No exceptions. My situation was unique because I was able to accomplish all of these goals in a very short time frame at the expense of my job...kinda.
Let me explain... Since my lease was up the same time that I went to California, this meant I didn’t have to pay any rent or utility bills for 5 months. That’s about $1200+ extra in my pocket every month. On top of that, my only true bills were my car note, car insurance, storage bill and my Verizon phone bill.
I made a “financial goals” plan in my notes app which broke down how much money I should be expecting from payroll each month, how much debt & bills I needed to pay off and how much money I allowed myself to spend each week. I stayed true to that plan which allowed me to write this post.
My #1 priority was getting my credit card bills paid off. In my previous situation, there were a lot of financial responsibilities I had to take on which almost outweighed the finances that I had coming in at the time. As terrible as it is to carry a balance on a credit card, I was happy that I had some kind of resource to help myself. With interest & making only the minimal payment while still using the card & creating a bigger balance, my card would’ve never gotten paid off to be totally honest. I have always been financially resposnible with great credit, but things happen. Sadly.
I broke down all my current debts and divided the full amount by 5 months, then compared that against the amount of money I expected to earn in that time frame. After that, I came up with my minimum MANDATORY payment I would make to my creditors which was $1,600 per month. After that was established, I subtracted my monthly allowance. I forced myself to live off $100 a week which was pretty strict considering the fact that I was living clean across the country in a state where everything costs 3 arms & 6 legs. Even if I spent over/under $100 each week, I made sure that my monthly spending didn’t exceed $400. This was the only way I was able to save money in a timely fashion.
Everything leftover from the above mentioned went to my savings. I had a numerical goal for this as well, but my salary is none of your business!
Anywho, My credit card bill (every single dime) was paid off in 4.5 months. Lesson learned! I refuse to ever in life pay interest or carry a balance again. EVER. You’re LITERALLY giving away money. Imagine buying something but being charged more than the price listed. Just throwing away cash. Don’t get me wrong, every purchase I make is still paid for by credit, but I only do that for the points & other benefits banks provide with the use of their cards. & I pay my balance off before the bill is ever due.
To give an idea of how I was able to live off $100 a week: My job was literally 1 street away from where I lived & I didn’t have my car. So, instead of paying for a monthly bus pass, I caught the bus to work every morning (5 Days a week) & I walked home everyday unless it was raining or too cold. Believe it or not, its always cool in the Bay Area (well, to me). The walk was about 25-30 minutes. This lead to me only spending $10 a week on transportation. I bought groceries every other week & meal prepped every Sunday night. This was really cheap because I was only spending about $60 maybe more on groceries every month. Sometimes I would buy food from the Cafe on campus at work but only if I just had to have a particular meal or if I was meeting someone for lunch or breakfast (roommate, coworkers, etc) even then, those meals very rarely exceeded $8.
So anyway, this cautious spending lead me to eventually lose about 25lbs from walking and meal prepping. Almost effortlessly! This also lead to a lifestyle change for me. I stopped indulging in crappy foods like heavy sugars, fried foods and soft drinks or juices. You can ask my roommate, she literally would have to pressure me to go to Popeyes with her which ultimately lead me to caving in because it smelled so good.
Now that we’ve established numbers, here’s the run down.
I met with my realtor a couple of months before I went to California & we basically just talked about what the home buying process looks like & what steps I should expect, etc etc. I was looking at properties the whole time I was in California which was a terrible idea because I saw so many nice properties that I couldn’t see or make offers on & when they sold, I got discouraged lol. Before I returned to Georgia, I set up a meeting with my realtor for the week after I got back to begin the process. Thankfully, my sister & her husband allowed me to live with them until I closed on my home. They were really helpful. They even watched my car for me & drove it occasionally so I wouldn’t die on me when I got back. Thanks y’all!
I told my realtor that I wanted to buy my home no later than September (It was May at the time) & honestly even that was a stretch, but I wanted to be realistic just in case I couldn’t find anything.
I knew that I wanted a condo because I needed my first property to be low maintenance. Even though I have to pay HOA (ugh $217 a month), I preferred to pay them versus having to solicit my own contractors for major work and landscaping. I also made sure to stay under a $100k price range. SO MANY PEOPLE told me that was impossible. They told me I would never find a nice property that cheap in a nice area. Well, they were obviously wrong & I knew they were wrong because I had done my research. Bloop!
I looked at about 4 properties initially. 2 in Mableton, 2 in Marietta. I only loved one of them & unfortunately, my offer wasn’t accepted because they received a cash offer. I was devastated!!! They sold it for only $1,000 less than I offered all because the buyer paid cash. I really wanted to stay in the Cobb area. My apartment was in Marietta & I had grown to love the location due to convenience to the city of Atlanta & my job(s). After this mishap, I looked at 1 more property in the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody area which ultimately became mine❤️. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t love it as much as the property I didn’t get, but it’s in a more developed area, in a gated community & very close to the highway and other popular landmarks.
I made my offer (under $100k btw), made some negotiations via my realtor & eventually, we were able to come to an agreement.
Important steps in the homebuying process: I had to go through a lender (CBC National Bank) for pre-qualification which basically assesses your current debt-to-income ratio & determines how much money you qualify for & how that weighs against your credit. This is very necessary because the last thing you want to do is “shop” for a home you cant afford because it’s a complete waste of time. The lender presented me with my affordability range & what types of loans available for me. Like FHA vs Conventional. I was able to attain a Conventional loan even though I didn’t have 20% of my purchasing price to put down. (Apparently this isn’t very common) My pre-qualification was affected by the remaining balance of my car loan & the amount of money I’ll have to pay on my student loans once they’re out of deferment. Even though I wasn’t actively required to pay them, they are still classified as a debt so it must be considered so that a bank is willing to give you money. The good thing about this, though is that I’m almost done paying on my car & that will be a lot more money in my pocket versus having a higher mortgage or more expensive home. After making the offer on the home (which is annoying because it’s literally like an auction lol) & your offer is accepted, it all begins. Next, you have to put down earnest money which is 1% of the buying price. Think of this as a deposit. The earnest money is refundable if you decide you don’t want the home, but it goes towards the down payment if you wish to proceed. Next, you pay for an appraisal and inspection which is required and non-refundable even if you decide not to buy the home which sucks because I believe this costed me about $700 total. (FYI some states don’t allow the seller to withdraw from the offer. GA does.) The inspector checks for any issues the home may have. I.e. electrical systems, air conditioning units, windows, etc. With this information, you decide if you will re-negotiate your offer. It’s up to the seller to decide if they’re willing to lower the price based on needed repairs. They can also just have the issues fixed or they can decline & you’ll have to shop for another home. There were some things that came up during my inspection which the seller ended up contributing the money towards my closing costs since the issues weren’t serious enough for me to need right away.
The appraiser comes in on behalf of the bank & they check out the property to make sure the home is actually worth the amount I offered. What sucks about this if they appraise it for an amount lower than you offered, that is the amount of money the bank will give you & YOU, the buyer, have to come up with the remaining balance yourself. So, never over-offer. Thankfully, my home appraised for a little more than I offered so in the end, I won. Once the inspection & appraisal influenced negotiations are made, it’s time to get to work. Basically you’re buying the home.
If I remember correctly, I was going to need approximately $9k in total to close, but I ended up paying a little (A LOT) less than that because my seller contributed most of the money for me. Honestly, my realtor did ALL the negotiating. All I had to do was tell her what I wanted. I didn’t even meet the seller until it was closing time.
Although I did not use any resources for down payment assistance, I wish I had the patience to do so. That would’ve saved me a lot more money, but I was in a semi-rush to have my home & a lot of the homebuyer programs can take months & not only that, I’ve read that it can make home buying more difficult due to the types of funding provided. Anywho, I used 100% of my own money. No money from my family or anything. I wish I was that lucky ☹️
Overall, the entire home buying process was very smooth and stress free for me. I hear so many horror stories from other people, but I had literally zero issues. I am also really organized and overly prepared when it comes to finances so I knew what to NOT do.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me. I’m more than happy to share more about my experience. BYE!