Making the Transition From an Apartment to Your First Home

Between myself and my real estate team, we have worked with several first time home buyers we have had several times where a first time homebuyer was moving from an apartment complex and into their first home.

We found that this transition in real terms is not that big of a deal, however it is the sentimental, emotional, and financial part of the transition that can have the biggest effect on a first time homebuyer. In other words, first time homebuyers that have been renting in the years leading up to the purchase of their first home have, on average, moved a half dozen times before the move into their first new home. The average age of a homebuyer is 32, and i can remember making at least 5 times before planting down in my first place. Point being, its not the actual move that causes the fear or the challenge in the moving transition; we have found that its all inside the buyer’s head.

With that said, the biggest change for a first time homebuyer will be the emotional and financial changes that occur through the process of buying one’s first home. Most notably, in most cases, a buyer’s monthly payment will go up compared to the rent that they were paying. Also, renters are used to calling the landlord when something breaks in the place that they are renting. For a first time homebuyer, something we do with our initial consultation is set expectations and try to ease the “sticker shock” for a first time homebuyer. We do this by encouraging the buyer to “pretend” to make his or her would-be payments so that they can get a feel for it and not get all stressed out the first month they move in. I’ve found that this fear of a higher monthly payment is all inside your head. Many buyers initially fear the higher payment, and sometimes it is a deterrent from buying a home in the first place, but I’ve found that all buyers get used to their new payment and make it a part of their lives and adapt and adjust their finances accordingly. A buyer gets qualified for a home loan, so the bank is taking a statistical bet that the buyer will be able to handle the payments, and i tend to agree with them on this as well.

However, a buyer can get over this financial concern by making the “pretend” payment; for example, if rent is $1500 a month, but the new mortgage is going to be around $2200 a month, then make the rental payment, and throw $700 into a savings account every month leading up to your home purchase. For some buyers who are buying a short sale, this may entail more than a few months of saving, which is even better and directly addresses the second most common concern about the home-purchase transition for a new buyer which is maintaining and taking care of the home they just bought.

By saving each month with your pretend home payment, you are building a reserve for the rainy-day (or Maintenance fund) for your new home. Any good realtor professional will (or should have) a great list of referrals for all types of service providers and tradespeople, and we let our clients know this so that no matter what could happen, we have them covered with a good, reliable professional that can assist. Furthermore, if and when something may occur, or if our buyers are just looking to upgrade the home in a necessary or desired manner, they have the funds to do so rather than dipping into credit cards and getting further into debt, which we recommend staying away from at all costs.

The pretend mortgage payment is one great strategy that if implemented correctly, reduces stress, fear and concern in the mind of a first time homebuyer and allows them to focus on the task at hand and make the homebuying process a fun one.

Lastly, its interesting to note that nearly every new buyer that comes into the office, when we ask them why they are looking to buy their first place, one common thread that they all have is to quit paying someone else’s mortgage because they are sick of paying rent – this is the motivation enough to know that by purchasing a home they are staking a claim into their financial future and making their future that much more secure which is the emotional push that they draw upon whenever the buying process gets challenging, or when fears or concerns begin to mount. We always remind our clients why they came to us in the first place and that helps them get through the finish line and on with the enjoyment of their new home.

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