Lessons from a First-Time Homeowner

Maybe it’s because I’m a Millennial, maybe its because I work in real estate. All I know is that I caught the “homeownership fever” four years ago, and scratching the itch wasn’t enough. I’d causally (seriously) browse for homes on our local MLS, I’d create Pinterest boards with design ideas (who doesn’t), and I’d even picked out my paint color – Dove White, a.k.a. OC-17, by Benjamin Moore. I scrimped and saved for my dream, my poor dog taking the brunt of my money-saving schemes. Poor Sandy tolerated my sad attempts at dog grooming to save $60 per month! I even gave up Starbucks – briefly – and then cut my expensive caffeine habit significantly after I realized I was fighting a losing battle against a chai tea latte.


Earlier this year, my grit paid off, and I asked my amazing coworker Dore Brooks for a Buyer Consultation. Miraculously, interest rates had dropped, to a low the industry hadn’t seen in years. I was finally able to make my dream a reality!


The exciting part: I was scrolling through Facebook, in our private Keller Williams’ office group, and I gasped. I had found it! My house, not yet on the market, but a few photos listed by a fellow Keller Williams agent with the disclaimer “coming soon.” A few short days later, an offer was submitted. 30 days after, we closed and I was officially a homeowner!


And here I was thinking THAT was the hard part. Perhaps this would have been easier had I lived on my own before now…


1. There were costs I didn’t associate with homeownership. I had budgeted for utilities, HOA payments, and even taxes. Guess what I forgot? I need to stock a pantry! As an avid baker, this has been an expensive endeavor. Another cost? Replacing an electric panel that wasn’t up to code, and removing a leaning chimney. *Be sure to check out our past blogs on “due diligence” periods during a contract. These items weren’t a top priority to have fixed by the seller before closing, but I did want to deal with them straightaway.


2. My pipe dreams of new flooring, fresh paint throughout, and gorgeous matte black fixtures were just that – pipe dreams. Of course I wanted everything done immediately, but I quickly learned to prioritize. Not only are those things expensive, but they also take time. Lesley offered perfect advice one day when I explained that I felt overwhelmed: tackle one project per year. It seems so simple and it’s truly the best advice. Now, I have so many things to look forward to, and plenty of time to space out the costs: wrought iron stair railings, a new front door, painted kitchen cabinets, a new bathroom vanity…


3. Grace. Type A, I’m hard on myself. I’m surrounded by people who care deeply, and I’ve had to learn that no one is judging me for not having the perfect home, or the right pillows. Take pride in your accomplishment – you bought a freaking house. Many people aren’t able to do that in their entire lifetime. Enjoy a takeout meal – or popcorn – for dinner every once in a while if it makes you feel better. Tour your new neighborhood and introduce yourself to neighbors. Build relationships, because you never know when you’ll need a helping hand or cup of sugar.


Perhaps my biggest lesson is that I needed a stellar Realtor, and thank goodness I hired one. Yes, I do have an active Georgia real estate license. No, I haven’t helped anyone buy or sell real estate. Dore was, and is, a Godsend. Throughout my transaction, and even afterward, she has been incredibly kind, patient, wise, and honest. She negotiated on my behalf and was always fair. I knew I could trust Dore with my most expensive investment, and it gave me peace of mind.


If you’re having that itch, don’t ignore it! It gets worse if you do. Give us a call at our office, and let us match you with the perfect agent to facilitate your dreams and make them a reality. 678.921.1470.


Written by Christina Rotolo

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