Buying a home is a dream for most people. And with so many millennial's unable to even qualify for a mortgage because of student loan debt, I consider it a major feat to buy a home before you turn 30.
But the romance ends quickly when you realize everything that goes with home ownership. I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park. I knew it was going to be expensive. Yes, I even had an emergency fund. But there are still some things I wish I had known before I signed on that dotted line.
1. Murphy's Law is Real
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong – for real. Life is easy when you rent an apartment. If something goes wrong, the landlord fixes it.
I knew that buying a home meant I was now responsible for these costs, but I had no idea that so many things could go wrong at one time.
Be prepared for just about anything – especially if you're buying an older home. The furnace may die right at the time your roof springs a leak. It's not pretty. It's not fun. But at least be mentally prepared for it.
2. Your Home is Never, Ever Done
Whether you buy a fixer-upper or a brand new house, your home will never, ever be done. There will always be a "next" project. It may be the garden. It may be painting the living room. It may be remodeling the kitchen. It may be getting squirrels out of the attic.
Your home will be like your life – always a work in progress.
Don't rush to get your home "done." It will never be done. If there are some more serious issues that need to be taken care of, tend to those first. Painting and wall art can wait. The first and most important thing is making sure your home is safe.
3. Costs Go Far Beyond the Mortgage and Down Payment
Everyone knows that buying a home comes with added expenses. But it doesn't really hit you until you're there. Even though I knew better, I still only considered the down payment and the mortgage.
I knew I had to pay utilities. I knew I was responsible for the home's upkeep. But I made the mistake of thinking that I wouldn't have to worry about "maintenance" until years after I bought the home.
When we started having issues with our sewer line, I was quickly reminded that budgeting for these extra expenses is really, really important. Thankfully, we had an emergency fund. Also, trenchless sewer repair saved us from having to dig up the yard and pay for new landscaping. Still, we wound up depleting our entire emergency fund (and then some).
4. You Should Probably Think about the Future
We're constantly being told to live in the moment; forget about the past and future. That rule doesn't apply to home buying. If you don't plan for the future, you're setting yourself up for heartache.
Things change. Life changes. You may not have the same job in five years. You may decide to start a family next year. You may wind up being single in ten years.
You can't predict the future, but you can try to plan for it. Maybe you don't have children yet, but if you're considering it in the future, look at homes that will accommodate your growing family. And make sure the local schools are good.
A home is a long-term investment, so it only makes sense to plan for the long-term. Make sure that your first home is one that will support your lifestyle in the years to come.