The past few years have brought some unprecedented changes to the world of real estate — hello, record low inventory, record high prices, and mortgage rates the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades — which means a lot of people are dealing with totally new situations that wouldn’t have been common even as recently as a year ago, especially first-time homebuyers.

Fortunately, they’re willing to share what they’ve learned so that if you’re shopping for a home, you can go into the 2024 buying season with your eyes open and be a little better armed for what’s in store for next year.

There Is Such Thing as “Too Good to Be True”

When Sherrie Adams was shopping for a home to be near her 84-year-old father, she faced a situation that a lot of other people had become familiar with over the years: homes were going under contract faster than she could get to come in and see them. Finally, after a lot of searching, she found one within walking distance of her dad that Adams called “magazine perfect.” Her higher-than-asking price offer was accepted and it wasn’t long before she, her daughter, and her two grandchildren found themselves in the perfect setup. At least, that’s what she thought

“Day after closing, my family room flooded,” she recalls, saying that the outdoor sump pump had been full of leaves, something the previous homeowner said had never happened before. After reevaluating her new home, she discovered that the driveway had been redone, giving the yard just enough of a slant that all the water pooled at her backdoor, which she didn’t open during the initial tour.

“I would advise anyone to look really close at everything,” she said of her regrets. “Backyards, opened and closed doors, cabinets, washer and dryers, dishwashers,” she says, noting that she never expected to have to take on all this extra work in her picture-perfect house

Your Down Payment Might Not Be the Biggest Expense

Jarred Schlottman said he’d always assumed that the hardest part of buying his first house was going to be saving the money he needed for his down payment. Instead, he was shocked to learn that the closing costs were the most expensive part of the process. “People fixate on not having enough for a down payment, but the closing costs were a huge shocker,” he said, adding that he didn’t even receive the final figures — which ended up being 12 percent of his total loan amount — until the morning of his closing. 

There’s Nothing “Fast” or “Perfect” About Buying a Home

When Danielle Payton, founder of health and wellness website kuudose, started looking for a house, she thought she’d have no trouble quickly finding the “perfect home” right away. Instead, she says that she learned that there’s nothing “perfect” about the process and it does take awhile. She discovered that she needed to fall in love with her home’s possibilities. “I learned that your ‘perfect’ home might not exist right away, but it’s important to see the potential your home has,” she explains, noting that factors such as size, location, and amenities are key, but the rest can be updated and upgraded over time. 

Payton says she also learned that there’s nothing fast about the home-buying experience and she was surprised by just how long it took from start to finish, adding that “it’s all worth it in the end to be a homeowner.”

While 2023 may have been a year of lessons for some, we have a hunch 2024 is going to be full of a whole new set of challenges and rewards for hopeful homeowners.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned as a first time homeowner? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

Courtesy of Apartment Therapy

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