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One millennial’s insights on buying a home

Victor Polich
Mortgage Banking

It’s my pleasure to introduce a Bank of the West team member, Maribel Rosas, as our guest blogger. Maribel is a millennial who recently purchased a home and shares her homebuying experience with us. Although many millennials are experiencing buyer’s remorse or choosing to rent longer, according to Bank of the West 2018 Millennial Study, Maribel’s story is a reminder that the “millennial experience” isn’t uniform, rather very unique.

Maribel Rosas and family, wearing A's hatsBuying a home right now can be hard. And buying in California is just flat-out insane. I’ve lived in the Bay Area my entire life, and although it’s very expensive, I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else.

I’m a millennial and started my homebuying journey five years ago when homes were much less expensive, but I gave up on several occasions because I was being constantly outbid by other buyers. To say that I was discouraged is an understatement.

But just a couple of months ago I decided to give it another shot, and now I can finally say that I am a proud homeowner! From the moment I received the call that my offer was accepted, everything moved rather quickly.

As I look back on my experience, there are a few things I wish I had known prior to going through the process, and I’d like to share the following information with others who may be considering buying a home.

* Money goes fast! Aside from putting a substantial amount of money toward the down payment, you will have to pay for the closing costs, home inspection, appraisal, utility expenses, home insurance and taxes (which can be quite expensive). Whew, that was quite the list!

On top of that, if there are any home improvements you want to complete, the costs can quickly add up. One trip to the hardware store for new LED lightbulbs ended up costing over $300 because I realized I needed many other items I hadn’t accounted for. And believe me, that was the first of many trips to the hardware store.

* Ask questions. I cannot stress this enough! Ask your loan officer and real estate agent any questions that come to mind. Purchasing a home is a big responsibility, and you need to feel comfortable throughout the process. Do not hold back.

* Have your documentation ready. After your offer has been accepted, your loan officer will ask for a slew of financial documents (i.e., pay stubs, W2s, bank account statements), so do yourself a favor and save them in a file ahead of time. That way, when asked, you can send them easily without having to frantically gather them.

* Write a letter of introduction. Here’s the thing: I’ve heard from many people that submitting a letter of introduction with an offer doesn’t do any good and that most sellers are only looking for the best offer. Well, that is false. I took the time to introduce my family to the seller and included a photo of my family wearing Oakland A’s gear (photo above), and the A’s happen to be the seller’s favorite baseball team, too! I wanted them to know why I genuinely wanted to buy their home and what it would mean to my family if my offer was chosen. When I met the seller in person, she disclosed to me that my letter made her cry and knew immediately that I was her buyer, partly because she and I are both A’s fans! My offer was accepted even though there was a stronger offer (more money) on the table. So I’m a firm believer in taking the time and writing that letter, as it may be the difference in whether your offer gets accepted or not.

* Be flexible. Another reason my offer stood out was because I was allowing the sellers plenty of time to rent back until they found a new home, even if it meant I had to wait longer to move in. Even though they only stayed for two weeks after closing, they appreciated the time as they closed on their new home. And I was paid rent for every night they stayed at the house.

Buying a home is a huge responsibility, but I learned a lot throughout the entire process, thanks in part to having a great loan officer and real estate agent to guide me in the right direction. If you’re in the market and find yourself feeling discouraged like me, I encourage you to change your mindset. You will find the perfect home at the right price when the time is right!

Now I’m off to making new memories with my 10-month-old son and family in our new home.

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