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The Emotional Journey of a First-Time Homebuyer

You’ve watched Shia LeBouf’s inspirational video 15 times and you are ready to go. Gone are the Craigslist roommates and creepy landlords who show up unannounced. You’ve decided your renting and couch-surfing days are over and you’re officially at the cusp of your adult life, ready to become a quantifiable “real human.” You’re ready to buy your first home.

You realize that getting there will be a journey in and of itself, one that’ll likely stay with you for years to come as you continue settling into your new space.

Here at Updater, we hear from millions of Americans each year about what it’s like to move, so we know that it’s no small feat. We’ve heard horror stories, complaints, exultations – honestly, we’ve heard it all…and then some.

And, of course, after swapping a few of our own moving horror stories through our Meet the Team series, we just couldn’t resist doing a bit of reflecting on the ups and downs of being a first-time home buyer.

So, first things first…

Phase 1: What will this cost?

Before any action begins, there’s some serious planning and logistics you need to get through. Most plans start with the age-old question: “Can I afford this?” If you’re at this point of your journey and need a bit of extra budgeting guidance, check out this handy mortgage calculator from QuickenLoans.

Before you can even start saving up for your down payment, you need to define your budget. You panic, sweat through a few old college t-shirts, and spend late nights poring over your tax forms, pay stubs, bank statements, ID scans, spreadsheets, and timelines.

Throughout, it’s necessary to remind yourself (over and over again) that this will all be worth it in the end. Hopefully.

Phase 2: Who’s going to guide me through this? HELP!

The second you figure out your budgeting plan, you find yourself at another dilemma: it’s time to find a real estate agent. This is the moment you realize all those Facebook stalking skills can actually be used to your advantage.

Is my agent somebody I can trust? How do I know that? Why are they telling me to buy title insurance? Suddenly, you find yourself in the position of a recruiter as you double and triple check references, success stories, and your candidate’s reputation.

If you’re at this step, have no fear. One of our clients, Coldwell Banker, put together some tips about choosing an agent here.

Phase 3: Where should I live?

You’ve finally found an agent you like and you’re ~feelin’ groovy~ as you start strutting around town touring places. This is your chance to shop around, so you gleefully set aside times after work to check out all the potential new digs.

If you have a partner in crime by your side (pup or SO – either works,) this is the time when the two of you weigh the pros and cons of a meh bathroom (but AN AMAZING KITCHEN!) together.

Or perhaps you’re faced with the dilemma of whether the incredible natural light is worth dealing with the upstairs neighbor who just happens to be either a nanny of four or a banshee – you’ll never be quite sure.

Phase 4: Will my offer be accepted?

You’ve found the one and made an offer! Congrats! If it was accepted, you probably look something like this:

But if it wasn’t, you probably look a little more like this:

If the latter is your case, this is the time to negotiate. You put on your best Frank Underwood negotiating hat when it comes to your agent and will stop at nothing to make your first home yours.

If you do find yourself stuck in this phase, this article called “11 Things You Need to Know About Real Estate Negotiations” has some great tips for all the things you need to know about real estate negotiations!

In the article, Allison Turk, a realtor associate with EWM, shared with Entrepreneur that it’s in everyone’s best interest to have this part over with ASAP. “In any market,” she says, “a truly motivated seller is less inclined to engage in lengthy negotiations – they just want to get the deal done.”

Phase 5: Is this real?

As the excitement of your offer being accepted settles in, it’s time to let everyone know! You gleefully share the news of your milestone all over every single form of social media you know how to use and revel in the onslaught of “congratulations!” messages and requests from your younger sibling to “crash on your couch, but only sometimes.”

During the time right before the big move itself, you dutifully cross your t’s and dot your i’s. You finalize the inspections, choose a reputable moving company and before you know it, you’re stacking boxes into a truck and sweating through yet another old college t-shirt.

Phase 6: Yes it is!

Nothing compares to the sigh of relief the minute you step through the front door, kick off your shoes (suddenly you understand why your parents yelled at you for this when you were twelve) and sprawl out on your couch.

You’re there; you’ve made it. Your new home is officially yours. As you settle into your new couch, you smile as you realize you wouldn’t have it any other way.

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