Everybody wants to know how to buy a home. They want to invest in something that’s worth it. Listen to this episode as David Sidoni dives into the story of two methodical first-time home buyers. If you’re considering buying a home and don’t have a realtor yet or someone to help you make that decision, it’s time to put yourself out there. This is your financial future, so you must do what it takes to reach your goals! Learn how to buy your first home by tuning in!
Interview With Methodical First Time Home Buyers
Hear How This Precise And Detailed Oriented Couple Found The Best Way To Buy Their First Home
I constantly hear that buying a home, especially your first home, is so overwhelming that buyers who start seeking out information often dip their toes in and then jump right back out and give up. The fact-finding can be so daunting that it scared them out of the water and back into their rental hole. We’re going to hear from Philip who puts the anal in analytical. This is not an insult. He says so in the interview that he and his fiancé are the worst nightmares of a salesperson who wants to make a sale that day.
He’s a self-described methodical person. I always preach preparation and analysis. You can learn a lot from me. My experience is telling you what I’ve learned about first-time homebuyers. I guarantee that you are going to learn some incredible things to help you with your home buying process from this fantastic, smart, and a little bit anal but methodical and very purposeful guy. This is Philip. Let’s go.
Readers, this is the time you’ve been waiting for. You’re learning a story from someone else out there in a different part of the country than me who found the show, followed the steps, figured out the planning, and is now sitting in their home. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Philip. Philip, say hello to the world.
How’s it going?
Everybody wants to know how to buy a home. That’s why they clicked on it. Let’s get a little backstory. Tell us when you started thinking about buying a home and what you did at the very beginning before you found the show.
Finding the show was one of the first things I did. When my fiancé and I decided that we were ready to buy a home, the first thing I realized was how little we knew about the process and this massive financial transaction we were undertaking. I love podcasts. I love being able to multitask while I drive or do chores around the house. That was one of the first places I went to consume information. I tuned in to your show. I loved your passion and how focused you were on first-time homebuyers. I went and ran with it from there.
It’s one of those things. Sometimes I tell people about it and they’re like, “On a podcast?” I’m like, “Podcast people know. We all have Master’s degrees in something because we sit around and listen to this while we’re washing dishes or driving to work.” It’s a great way to learn. The first thing you said is interesting. For our folks out there that might be going through another large life experience like a fiancé, you together decided that you were going to buy a house before a wedding. Was that even a budgetary thing that you had to figure out?
We had talked a lot prior to getting engaged. Pretty much right after the engagement process, it was like, “We’re engaged. Let’s go buy a home.” We wanted to be engaged prior to buying a home but we also knew that we wanted to buy a home quickly thereafter with how the market was. We were anxious to get into a place that was our own, take that next step in our life together, and not only establish that ownership for financial reasons but also to begin putting our roots down.
It’s so hard for me. I say this stuff on the show all the time. It’s great for the readers to hear you speaking for your fiancé too because I have so many people over the years that have called me up and said, “We’re getting married. We will talk to you next year.” It takes everything in my power to not go, “You’re going to spend 5% more in your home. Do it now,” but I understand. I applaud you for that. Once you found the show, what were your next steps for moving forward since it sounds like you were ready to go?
There was a lot of basic fact-finding or background research that we did courtesy of the information that you put out there. One of the biggest things that we had to look into and understand more about was the lending process or what can impact your credit score. Even though I did a lot of the research on that, I still feel it’s a weird and difficult subject to feel you have a firm grasp on it. For us, the biggest step in listening to the podcast and putting things into motion was getting hooked up with our unicorn realtor. Through your help, we knocked it out of the park on our first try and got super lucky with that.
We will get into you getting lucky. My father told me my entire life, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” I’m very glad to be part of your preparation in the unicorn and finding everything there. You brought up something interesting. Probably one of the biggest things that I find with the audience or people who come to me is there’s a whole lot about buying a home that isn’t fair. People expect, as a consumer, that things are going to be fair.
We’re in a world where there’s communal rating. Even in a capitalist society, we are telling each other who’s the good consumer advocate-style corporation and who are the ones that aren’t. Probably the two lamest things that any consumer has to go through both have to do with your biggest financial decision. Credit stinks. It doesn’t make any sense. Why do we have 700 credit scores?
How come I can’t get my correct credit score? What do I need to know? If I do this, it affects it this way. If I do that, it affects it this way. It’s ridiculous how guarded and behind the ivory tower, it feels. It’s crazy. I never said that in all these podcasts I’m trying to help people with. You articulated something informative and unfortunately maybe not super helpful except for people’s mental capacity.
Be ready to know that credit stinks. You’re not going to get accurate detailed information. That’s why you talk to a lender immediately. That catch-22 is people decide not to talk to a lender because they don’t want to get their credit pulled. That’s the silly part. They changed the laws. It’s now on your credit card statements but all that did was make it more confusing.
As I listened to you, so much about this process is complicated and not taught to you. In a way, it frustrated me but it also pushed me to want to learn more and make sure I had great real weather in my corner because I felt like me and my fiancé were up against it. This is our financial future. Here’s this big transaction that I know nothing about. I’ve got to take ownership of this situation and make sure that I’m not walking into a horrible idea.
It’s the hardest part of what I explain to people. You’re used to buying things. Over the last couple of decades especially, we’re used to coming in super informed and not getting ripped off. Sometimes I’m like, “It stinks but you’ve got to think about this more like a heart surgeon. You have to find the right doctor. You can’t figure out how to do this. You need someone else to walk you through it, even though you’re used to doing everything on your own.”
Let’s get to the fun part then. That’s great for everybody to learn and realize that they should study as much as they can. I tell people, “Spend way more time choosing your realtor than you do educate yourself on the steps to do. That will be better to help you.” You found your unicorn realtor and got to your lender. Did the lender help clarify the credit anymore for you any better, get you feeling comfortable to move forward, and start writing offers?
We knocked it out of the park on the realtor’s side. On the lender side, once we got pre-approved, then we had everything set in motion for us to be able to potentially put an offer out there whenever we found the right home. We got tunnel vision on finding the right home and figuring out what we could afford and what we couldn’t. We were so much in the mind of shopping for the right home that we didn’t shop for lenders as well.
All of a sudden, we’ve got an offer accepted. We’re so excited. In the eleventh hour, I’m trying to shop for lenders to a certain degree to negotiate rates a little bit. That’s one of the things I would be thinking about a little bit more if I could do the whole thing over again. It’s a parallel path that you’re looking for the home and to shop around there but you should be shopping around for lenders as well and doing a little bit more than seeing that as a secondary step thereafter, which I fell victim to.
That is fantastic advice for all the readers out there. You said a phrase that I don’t think I’ve ever articulated well enough. It’s the parallel path. What can happen is exactly what happened with you. You get in, you get the realtor, you get excited, you get the lender, and you get a number. As soon as you get that number, your mind turns to HGTV. You start figuring out, “How do I make that number meet my needs? What compromises am I going to make?”
You hit it on the head. That’s a great hindsight learning tool for people. Pick your realtor, have your realtor give you some suggestions for lenders, and then parallel path. While you’re getting your numbers together, do that with a few different people. Speaking of credit, if you have your credit pulled within the minimum of 21 days but some people say it’s 30 days from different lenders, it only counts as one pull against your credit. You can shop lenders in those first few weeks.
It’s the hardest thing in the world to do because you tell someone, “Here you go. Let’s go.” As soon as you get a number, you want to run out and look at houses. Hurry up because the market is moving. That’s great advice. Was there anything else that surprised you about the process and things that were different? If nothing surprised you, that means your unicorn took care of you. Were there other things that you would give advice to people looking back?
My realtor was awesome. Giving advice to others would all center around getting that unicorn realtor. When I think about how we were able to get into that position, I would call on two things. One, we got the realtor because it all started with me sending you an email and asking if you have ideas about the area that we live in. That was a total shot in the dark. I heard your passion on the show but I was like, “Who knows how many emails he gets a day? Maybe he won’t respond.”
Sure enough, you did and hooked me up with a realtor who hooked me up with this realtor. Everything worked out. The learning there is if I were you, you’re thinking about buying a home, and you don’t have a realtor yet, put yourself out there. If you know somebody who may be able to help and give you a good recommendation, take the initiative and go talk to them. The worst that could happen, David, when I sent you an email was you’re not going to respond. What ended up happening was you responded and got me hooked up with a great realtor.
The second thing with that process is that my fiancé and I were methodical. We’re the worst nightmare of a salesman who wants to make a sale that day. We told our realtor, “We’re first-time homebuyers. We’re still figuring this out. We’re probably going to want to see a lot of homes.” He listened to us. He was comfortable with it. He made his style fit our needs and was a true advocate for us.
What I would tell you if you’re looking for realtors is to be open and honest with that individual from day one. Depending on how they react, that should give you a good sense, “Is this my person? Is it not?” It’s always important to remember that if you’re getting that sense this person isn’t your person, you can walk any time. There are a lot of realtors out there. I got fortunate. We knocked it out of the park on try one. If they don’t seem like an advocate for you, you don’t have to stay with them.
I’m 100-something episodes in. You said something that I’ve been afraid to say this whole time. You have to eventually get to a point where you trust your realtor and tell them everything. One of the biggest mistakes with first-time buyers is they come into the situation a little skeptical. They will tell their realtor a part. I’ve had people hold back finances and not tell me they’ve got extra money somewhere because they think I’m going to try to push it up, which is hysterical to me.
“I’m going to push it up to $25,000 so I can make 2% more on $25,000.” That’s not what I’m thinking about. Maybe that’s their opinion of other realtors. You have to be as honest about everything like your finances, your goals, your timing, and when you want to do this. Don’t say you want to do this in 6 months if you want to do it in 3 so that they don’t pressure you. If you’re open and honest with the realtor, the worst thing that can happen is you can feel uncomfortable with them and then bail.
If you hold those things back like how you want to be communicated with and what you expect to see, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Even bigger than that, you’re setting yourself up where you could be getting a better deal but there’s information that your realtor doesn’t know that they could have utilized to your advantage in the negotiation. I appreciate the fact that the unicorn nation was so helpful to you. When I started this back in 2019, that’s my job now.
In your area, I fired three different unicorns before I got you to the people that you got over the years. They didn’t have the sensibility and the compassion for first-time homebuyers but they were big agents in your area. I connected you with somebody first who even then said, “It’s great to meet you. I love David and the show. There’s someone better for you. It’s not me.” They sent you to that other person and another person that ended up with you.
I’m not a matchmaker. You laid it out, which was great. They ended up being the right person for you. That’s awesome to hear. Tell us about the offer process. Everyone is like, “We get it. Get a good realtor.” What nuggets of wisdom can you give people about putting an offer on the home? We were talking about being in a month-to-month situation. Was there anything else with the style of the offer that you could offer advice on?
I’ll touch on the month-to-month piece. One thing that is maybe somewhat obvious but wasn’t something that my fiancé and I were thinking about until we got into the process is you tend to think about the home, “What’s the price? What’s the down payment? What’s the monthly payment?” There are some key numbers that you’re thinking about with each home. You have to do the math though on whether they must have projects in the first six months.
Maybe you can afford the down payment and the monthly payment but if you have to do a kitchen remodel, you’re not going to be happy until that remodel is done. That could be in a whole new tier of a home. Those were some things we had to consider. It’s almost like, “What’s the fully baked cost of this house, not just the one that’s on the paper in front of me?”
On the month-to-month piece, if you’re looking to buy in this market or when we were buying back in the spring, sadly you do not have a lot of advantages going for you. Inventory is low. You’re going to have to put in an offer above asking. Rates are rising quite a bit. One thing we had going for us is we were going month-to-month in our rental. To the degree with which you can plan and be in that flexible living arrangement is super beneficial versus being in a place where you’ve got to make a purchase by a particular period of time. If you don’t, you’re looking at signing another year-long lease.
In the home that we ended up buying, our sellers wanted to stay for an extra six weeks. From the day our offer got accepted, it was a few months until we moved in. That knocked a lot of offers out. We didn’t have to go as high above asking as we thought we were going to because they said, “Are you comfortable delaying your move-in for six weeks after close?”
We said, “That’s fine because we will lease it back to you, pay our mortgage for those first six weeks, and keep renting in our place.” It was almost like out of all of the things as a buyer in this market, I got nothing working for me. It was a total seller’s market. It’s this one little wrinkle or advantage that we had that I would encourage others to think about as they’re starting the process.
That is so huge because it’s true. I tell people all the time, “I’m sorry that you’re buying a home in 2022. This is when you were born. There’s nothing I can do about that. We can’t go back and have you getting engaged in 2012 and ready to buy in 2013.” That’s cool to realize that you did have the advantage. I don’t get deep into it a lot but there are two things in real estate, time and money. Time can save you money if they need to go quickly and you’re a cash buyer. That’s the reason cash buyers come in and swoop deals.
If someone has their home priced too high, they waited too long to list it, or they’re buying another house and suddenly they need their house to close right away because they need their money, the cash buyers can close in seven days. That’s where the time means, “We have to pick from only the cash buyers now so they might take a lower price.” In your case, it worked the other way by being flexible. That’s why go as quickly as you can or give them as long as you can. You offer all the time and end up getting more money.
Both those pieces are wonderful. The second piece goes into the first piece. When talking about understanding the potential remodeling or what you might have to do, it’s like when you go online to try to buy a car. You start adding all the extras. The difference is the car manufacturer tells you exactly how much those leather seats are going to cost. If you look at a kitchen and unless you’re a contractor, it’s a lot harder for you.
People reading this come into it with that mentality. I have seen the buyers that will only buy turnkey. By not having the vision and the mentality, they might miss a place that’s 75% upgraded. They could have gotten it, refurnished it, or remodeled it and saved themselves a lot of money, not to mention that in this market, you need all your options. You’re very methodical. I understand that. It’s fun for me to work with buyers like you because, at some point, the humanity of it hits.
If we’re prepared, it’s like, “We were focusing on price down payment and what we have to remodel but the kicker is we’ve got time. We will let you stay in your house.” It’s a thing you’re buying but it’s a person selling it. By you being adaptable to the person, you ended up getting it in 2022 with fewer terms, which means not 20% over the list price and maybe a few percent over. You closed at the beginning of April 2022 and moved in sometime in May or so. Have you been in the place for a few weeks?
We have been in the place for a few weeks. This would resonate hopefully with anybody who is out there in an apartment. I’ve lived in a little apartment for several years prior to buying a home. My favorite room in the house is this storage room. It’s unfinished but everything has a place. The best part of having this house in my mind is there’s stuff that has a place in a room where I never see it. It feels way less cluttered.
We’re excited about having the opportunity to make it our own. Before when you needed something fixed, there was never any excitement around it. Now if something needs fixing or you don’t like it the way it is, it’s like, “Is this an opportunity for a project or an investment? Maybe we will have to spend a good amount of money on this but depending on what it is, we might make that money back and the value of the home when we sell it someday.”
You can do it the way you want to do it.
It has been a fun process. Here’s a shout-out to my fiancé who will read this at some point, I’m sure. She has been an all-star because she is front and center on the wedding planning and also on the home stuff, too. She’s all over it.
I meet different people along the way. There are some people that can pull off the crazy double-duty. You sound like you can. The storage thing is interesting. When you were drawing up your must-haves and wants, was that on your list? Was that something now that you’re a homeowner, you go, “This is the greatest thing ever?”
The basement was a thing. We wanted to have that additional storage. There was some pre-planning behind that because before, a lot of stuff didn’t have a place, so it sat out. It was hard to feel like I was ever living in a clean house.
Is it all labeled in containers and all perfect? That’s what I’m guessing.
We’re about 90% there. It’s pretty pristine. I’m proud of it.
I’m picturing your housewarming party being like everybody bringing over instead of a bottle of wine, they would bring label makers or plastic pin tubs for you.
That would be my dream.
This has been chock-full of amazing information. When I started this little dream, I was an angry little man. At the time, I was thirteen years into real estate but I had this group of people. In my head, I was thinking of them as unicorns. I thought, “People need to know about them.” It’s the fact that you reached out to me and that we were able to get you in touch with them, make this dream happen for you, and give you the storage room of your dreams. Most people say it’s the kitchen or the backyard, but I get it.
She would say it’s the kitchen. She loves the kitchen.
I’m going to give you one piece of advice that I’m going to give to everyone else, too. If you’re a minimalist, sometimes people don’t like this but it’s a cool hip thing that my Italian grandma did. The biggest problem with kitchens and storage is the big pots and pans. If you can figure out a cool aesthetic that goes with the Italian kitchen, I highly recommend the ceiling pot hangers.
I have talked about wanting to do this. We have them. My mom and dad did them. There’s one pot that clips the top of my head when I go home. I’m all for it. I love the look but we’ve got to get the height because I get bonked on the head every time I go back to my parents.
The Sidonis are from Buffalo. My dad is 5’7 and my mom is 4’11. It’s not a problem for us and my little Italian grandma. All you have to do is get the high ones or find the spot where you can hang them. You probably hang the lower-hanging ones near the edge and the little pots in the middle so you don’t bump your head. This is fantastic. Thank you so much.
I’m so excited to get this message out to everybody with the disclaimer that not all unicorns can get you your very first house at a lower price. If you’re ever going to have a chance to do it, it’s using a unicorn. I will also say that being organized and doing your preparation and planning will help you, like Philip and his fiancé, to be able to land the right home. I’m glad that you knocked it out of the park. That makes me feel very happy.
Thank you for all that you’ve done. I’m happy to help however I can. We encourage folks out there, if you think there’s a chance that you’re able to buy a home now, don’t wait. Go for it because the more I got into this process, the more I was kicking myself thinking, “I should have been trying to do this years ago.” It’s never too early.
I did something that I’m going to put on the website because I went back and looked at my very first episode. That’s what I said. One of the reasons why I started the show was every one of my first-time buyers over thirteen years. I had 76 at that time. That was the one thing they all said, “I could have done this earlier.” That’s wonderful. That will help our people start their planning but you and I get to live in the moment. I’m going to enjoy my backyard and you enjoy your storage basement.
That sounds great.
Thanks so much, Philip.
There’s no problem. Thank you.
That was amazing and truly inspirational. In the midst of a new engagement, Philip and his fiancé took on the task of buying their first home even though their first thought was how little they realized they knew about the process. They researched, studied, and got into that cool thing we talked about, parallel path planning. I love that. It’s such an important takeaway from them on how to set yourself up for a successful home buying journey.
A lot of times, when I’m helping buyers, I wish there was a singular linear path that I could give you or a 1, 2, or 3-step ladder but the best way to follow the steps is multiple steps all at once. That might not be the most comforting thing in the world but it’s easy once you get it going. First, you binge the show or you get a trusted unicorn guide so that you either have all the knowledge or someone you trust with all the knowledge. You get ready to take your first steps but realize that you’re taking multiple steps all at once.
You’ve got your credit, savings, and debt reduction. You’re working on your loan, talking with your unicorns, researching neighborhoods, driving through neighborhoods, learning about neighborhoods, checking out home styles, and figuring out all the buyer techniques in the current market. All of that needs to be happening at the same time. It’s not step one and then step two. It’s step 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 a little bit all the time like pushing the faders up on a soundboard.
Phillip said something in there, “Much is not taught to you before you get started.” It frustrated him but also pushed him to take ownership of his situation and get a great realtor or unicorn in their corner. That unicorn team was probably one of the most valuable pieces of his entire education. With the team that you trust in place, being honest, and open with them so they know everything so they can help you is the best way to move forward and get to your goal.
The most important thing that I learned from Philip is that storage is dope. If you want to be like Philip and you want to have a success story to share with the world, go to HowToBuyAHome.com. I’ve got sixteen years of experience giving you loads of advice and guidance from a realtor who has done this with first-time buyers for quite a long time. If you go there, you’re going to find links to the podcast, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Soon, starting in the summer of 2022 because so many people have been asking me and overwhelming me with the question, “I’m so overwhelmed,” we’re going to be launching the How To Buy a Home starter kit or First-Time Homebuyer starter kit to help you out because years into pumping out this show, the big question is, “Where do I start?” Start with the starter kit. Check it all out at HowToBuyAHome.com. If you’re out there in show land, hit me with five stars and write me a review. It helps to help everybody else find the show.
If you want to make this happen for yourself, do it like Philip and his fiancé and lean into your strengths. If you’re methodical, go ahead, bust it out, and make your spreadsheets. If you’re like me and the thought of working on Excel makes your skin crawl, then get a unicorn team who can fill in the gaps for you. Take all your strengths and your team’s strengths and put them all together. The more people that you have working for you, the more parts of the process that you will have covered to make this the right move for you because with the right team in place, as Philip said, you can do this.
This podcast was started for YOU, to demystify things for first time home buyers, and help crush the confusion. After helping first timers for over 13 years, I knew there wasn’t t a lot of clear, tangible, useable information out there on the internet, so I started this podcast. Help me spread the word to other people just like you, dying for answers. Tell your friends, family, and perhaps that random neighbor you REALLY want to move out about How to Buy a Home! A really easy way is to hit the share button and text it to your friends. Go for it, help someone out. And if you’re not already a regular listener, subscribe and get constant updates on the market. If you are a regular and learned something, help me help others – give the show a quick review in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, or write a review on Spotify. Let’s change the way the real estate industry treats you first time buyers, one buyer at a time, starting with you – and make sure your favorite people don’t get screwed by going into this HUGE step blind and confused. Viva la Unicorn Revolution!