First Time Home Buying in 10 Easy* Steps

Follow these steps exactly for a successful, quick home purchase within mere months of your wedding!**

1. Grow up in the housing market. Via osmosis (and time spent playing hide and seek during open houses), learn that this business is a tangled mass of paperwork and redundancies. Sometimes, even the people steering you through the process aren’t quite sure how it all works. Learn from your mother, the realtor, that home inspections will always turn up building mistakes and closing dates are a rapidly moving target. Learn from your stepfather, the mortgage broker, that you always keep more paperwork than you think you need: someone’s going to want to study it before approving your loan. Learn from your father and stepbrother, the house flippers, that almost anything can be fixed given money and time, contractors will cut corners if it’s not going to up the home value, and sometimes you find out at inspection that the contractor you paid had no idea what he was doing. Let all of this information simultaneously terrify and settle you about the idea home ownership.

2. Decide that rather than hunting for a place in town to rent post-wedding, you will look into home buying options. Stop buying everything unrelated to food, bills, or wedding needs, even if your only work shoes have holes in them. Don’t worry, no one will notice. (Everyone noticed.) Take one last lingering look at your savings account, suck it up, and go get married.

3. Come off your honeymoon with energy and time to spare, feeling like a superhero. Call your realtor and start taking the first steps at house hunting. Promptly feel like the phone call was not productive enough and decide to take on more projects, such as making four costumes for an upcoming convention and designing new flyers, buttons, and stickers for your writing group. Become convinced you have plenty of time to do everything, as none of the deadlines are strict, unlike that wedding you just pulled off. Like a pro, because you’re awesome, if I might add.

4. Meet your realtor! Spend three hours in a conference room with him looking at hundreds of home listings. Let your partner talk you off the cliff when you become overwhelmed and think about backing out. Spend a full day, sans eating, driving around looking at houses. Put an offer on your favorite the next morning because the foreclosure market is quick and it makes you nervous. Don’t get your hopes up.

5. Receive a best offer, agree to it, and sign on in less than seventy-two hours. Realize this means you will close on and move into a house in less than a month, right before that big convention. Don’t panic.

6. Okay, panic. Just a little. Then get your paperwork in order, get approved for your loan, and don’t cry in front of the home inspector when all seems lost, hopeless, and irreparably broken. (It’s not.)

7. Try not to become visibly irritable that all parties involved in home buying automatically look to your husband for direction. Try not to smile smugly when he points them back toward you. Actually, fuck it. Be as smug as you want.

8. Get lost on the way to closing and show up late. Close on your house anyway, grab those keys, and go get drunk for the first time as a homeowner. (This is a very important step.)

9. Move all your crap, set down the boxes, and then spend approximately 80% of the first week in your new home at a giant convention a few miles away. Lock your partner out of the house without a key more than once. (Sorry!) Find out that the hot water works…everywhere except the shower.

10a. Fall in love with your new home, despite its many quirks: the mysterious outlets that seem to rotate their working schedules based on when you need them most, the furnace that won’t heat the house if it gets below freezing outside, and the lovely oak trees out front that will never, ever finish dropping leaves. Like, ever. Let your friends laugh at all the very adult homeowner projects you talk (complain) about doing, like tilling the yard and cleaning gutters. Wait for it.

10b. Laugh at all your friends when their leases end and they have to find new places to live. Then help them pack and move their stuff, because you’re a good person.

*Okay, so the steps aren’t actually easy.

**Alternatively, don’t follow any of this. It’s probably better for your health. Success in home ownership not guaranteed. Professional on a closed course. Eat your vegetables.

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