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4 Tips To Buying Your First House From Someone Who Swore They’d Be a Lifetime Renter

December 6, 2023


Min Read
Moving boxes stacked in empty apartment awaiting movers.

This article is part of the #OwningIt series featuring real homeownership stories from Lower team members.

From our Brand Team, Emily W. has almost ten years’ experience in the mortgage industry, but more importantly, four years’ personal experience as a homeowner. Harnessing all of that experience, here are the four core items she believes you should remember as a potential homebuyer. If you’re envisioning a scene out of a Marvel movie, you’re on the right track.




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1. Buying a house is a “YOU” decision.

We felt the pressure to buy a home since we rented our first apartment. That pressure actually turned us away from wanting to buy at first. So don’t be like us. Let it be your decision.

Unless a person knows every bit of your financial profile like a professional advisor, and knows your lifestyle, they don’t have any business giving you advice in this matter. Seek out professional, third-party guidance before letting anyone steer you one way or the other.

No one else has to make your mortgage payment. If your family or friends are pushing you in either direction, just ask if they’re willing to sign on the dotted line with you or pay your rent, then drop the mic.

There wasn’t something miraculous that made us change our minds about renting. We truly enjoyed it for our lifestyle and thought we’d be lifetime renters. But, as we grew and changed, we began to realize a lot of the things we wanted happened to be in one place—a home. The cliché stuff like a yard for our kids and dog, but also the financial security and control over our surroundings. Our life changed, so our outlook on homeownership changed, too. (Sorry if that’s not the dramatic answer you were searching for.)

2. Rates don’t matter.

I was guilty of it myself—falling into the circle of hyperfocusing on rates. It’s what makes headlines, and what people love to talk about. The thing is, the process of buying a home can be complicated with tons of numbers, fees, technical terms, etc. And rate is the opposite—just one number. Simple. So when we get stressed, we can rely on the simplicity in a rate. But, as I’ve learned over the years, rate is just one piece of a very large puzzle. And if you have the information you need when you need it, you don't need to focus as much on the rate.

A good way to think more neutrally about rate is understanding if you aren’t able to afford the monthly payment of a home at 0%, you still aren’t able to afford the home. And the same goes if you are able to afford the home at 10%. See how taking rates out of the question makes your decision a lot clearer? It’s about you and your wants/situation. Not the market.

So, if you’re able to buy a home, and you want to buy a home, do it. Keeping your focus off of rates and on your specific situation will help you navigate the process.

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3. Be realistic.

Owning a home can be a magical experience. (Cue, the unicorns and rainbows.) My husband and I often find ourselves pausing to say ‘wow, we own a home’ even 4+ years later. Homeownership has allowed us to build equity on the financial side, but also build discipline on the ‘life’ side. All of the time, effort and energy we put into our house comes right back to us. It’s been a sweet ride.

But, being realistic about the process is also important. It’s all a balance.

One thing I’ve noticed from buying a home, and seeing others buy, is the transition period right after buying.

The selling process can bring up underlying issues with a home, whether they’re caught in the inspection or after you move in. Just keep in mind you may be doing some catch-up maintenance in the first few years of owning. Things that the previous owners let go or DIY’ed projects.

The first week we owned our home, we had to replace our HVAC after an issue discovered during routine maintenance. But now, we’re settled in, the issues have leveled off, and we have a brand new HVAC among other smaller projects that will last us years to come.

4. Get all the inspections.

When it comes to inspecting your home, there are a multitude of choices. You have your general inspection, which is the most common, as well as specialists for things like insects, septic systems, foundations, structural work, and even trees. Sometimes, your general inspector will identify an issue and recommend you seek out a specialist in that field. You can also reach out to them proactively if you’re concerned about any part of the property.

In some cases, a few hundred bucks can save thousands (and thousands) of dollars down the road. It happened to us, and we avoided some major work needing done.

If you do find issues, you can always negotiate those into the sale, choose to remedy them after moving in, or even walk away from the deal altogether. No matter the result, getting the information you need to make the decision is worth it.

“So, Emily, are you still a lifetime renter?”

We’ve owned our home now for 4 years, and in that time, I’ve realized nothing is a lifetime, and it doesn’t need to be. Our lives changed, and buying a home felt like a natural next step. The equity we’re building now is offering us financial security later down the line. And we truly enjoy our house, property and space to live. (Though our outlook might be a bit different on mowing days.)

Emily and her husband bought their house in fall of 2020 when home prices were skyrocketing and almost every property had multiple offers over asking (or so it felt that way to them). After one deal falling through, they finally settled on an old farmhouse with a huge yard for their young kids to play and retired greyhound to live her best life.

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