Interview with a First Time Home Buyer

Latitude’s own Business Development Manager / property manager Allison just closed on the purchase of her first house together with her husband. With the help of our very own Realtors Chace Fraser and Alissa Collins, Allison and her husband navigated the journey and secured a house they love. We asked them some questions about their experience, and here are the answers!

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Q: Describe the process of buying your very first home. What does it feel like?

Allison: We just got married in September. Meeting in our mid-30’s, for us, meant we knew quickly that we were each other’s life partner. We know that home is where we are together. However, we also craved a physical foundation to call our own, and to some day raise a family in. We agreed to meet with mortgage brokers in November. We met with three! Each had a different perspective and take on how we would go about getting our first mortgage. The biggest factors and worries being our student loan debt. We settled on Jamie Helton of ENG Lending, She was able to show us a number of options available to first time Portland home buyers. We knew that Jamie was the lender we wanted to go with, but were still going to wait a few months before getting pre-approved. We wanted to take it slow.

That all went out the window with what looked like a killer deal in the SW hills in a stellar school system. It ended up looking and feeling like a scary, funky beach house. But it was the start we needed. We got pre-approved and saw what type of down payment we would need to not have a higher mortgage interest rate. Full transparency, both sets of parents and a grandparent helped us with the down payment. Otherwise it would have taken us a solid two years to fully come up with what we needed.

In December we were briefly under contract for a home in deep SE, at the very top of our price range, but within the inspection period we saw that the deal was not financially viable. We took a break around Christmas and in early January started to drive around Portland, hoping for a great house that needed some loving. It was very important to us that we not have a mortgage payment that consisted of more than 35% of our monthly income.

After a Sunday full of disappointing open houses, we drove by a house that just felt special, despite being a little too expensive for us. It didn’t have an open house scheduled, and we didn’t want to ask our Realtor to show us a house outside of our price range, but we decided we needed to keep an eye on it. Five days later it dropped in price just enough, and we immediately went to go see it. Today we signed the papers, got the keys, and started painting it.

Q: What is it like to be a first time home buyer?

Allison: It is surreal, a dream come true. A property we have gifted to each other and we can’t wait to mold with our own color palette and taste. But most importantly, we feel blessed and grateful that we are becoming owners of a solid, sturdy home that will shelter our partnership and family.

Q: Do you believe in property ownership. If so, why?

Allison: As renters for our entire adult lives, 17+ years, property ownership to us is the first great leap into solid equity. We’ve heard horror stories of people rushing into it, just to get something, anything, before Portland becomes completely unaffordable. We worried about that as well, but knew we had to be patient and careful. Now that we have found our home, we feel it is an excellent choice. We bought something that we can afford each month, something that we can improve with our own hard work.

Q: What do you think you'll enjoy most about owning a home?

Allison: Painting, altering and creating the exact space that we want and not what we are bound by contracts to do or not do. And gardening!!! We have an ideal lot to mold, grow and nurture an edible garden in. Goats may also be in our future . . . The property also has a shop in the back, ready to go for my studio practice!

Q: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in that process?

Allison: Do your due diligence. Meet with at least three mortgage brokers! Really look into the pros and cons of a conventional loan versus an FHA loan. Make sure you know your intentions for the property. Take an online class with the Portland Housing Center. Be aware of interest rates and projected interest rate trends. Be realistic. Being house poor will not help balance stress, it will add to it. Can you paint? Look beyond the ugly, see beauty where others want immediate perfection and do it for yourself. Take Rebuilding Center classes if you don’t know how to fix simple plumbing, electrical or building issues. Seriously, move those boxes on your own, but get a professional mover to carry all your furniture. Your friends and family will thank you.

Q: Do you plan to invest in real estate in the future?

Allison: Yes! As a property manager at Latitude, I can see the phenomenal benefits of long-term property investment. My husband and I first and foremost found a home for us and secondly found a property that could one day have an ADU, generate rental income and eventually be converted into a great rental property as we grow our real estate portfolio.