How can you increase your chances in closing a deal when there are a lot of buyers of the dream house you’re looking at? As a buyer, what should you prepare first? In this episode, Briana is the bomb, and she had no clue where to start, but she knew she wanted to buy the house. So she worked a plan, stayed positive, and now tells her about what she did to buy her very own first home. Save this podcast and listen and re-listen when you want motivation and practical REAL advice from a first time home buyer’s REAL story. TUNE IN NOW!
Briana Interview – AMAZING HTBH Real Buyer Story
Wanna Become A First Time Home Buyer? Hear How Briana Made It Happen.
What’s up how to buy homies? It’s summertime 2022. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you are a regular here, it is the summertime, which means I’m going to try to take my first vacation since I started this show. The episodes might be a little sparse here until we get to the end of August and then we’re going to kick it back up. If you’re watching your feed, waiting for the episodes, don’t worry. They’re coming and part of the reason why I’m comfortable doing that is because of this episode.
I love doing my interviews and talking to other first-time home buyers and getting a real story. Now, you’re getting a real story from Briana. I don’t have very much to say because Briana said everything for me. She planned and she did it. She made it happen. If you’re wondering how you can do this, how you can make your dream happen, how about we hear firsthand from someone who went through the whole process? Let’s go.
Briana is in Northern California. She reached out to me. I was like, “It’s pretty expensive up there.” Tell us your story. You’re with the Air Force. You said you grew up close to there. Were you someplace else with the Air Force and then came back?
I was. I’ve been in the Air Force for about ten years. I was in New Mexico for a while, then Mississippi, and then I spent the last four and a half years in Germany. We just moved here from Germany.
I’m curious. Everyone wants to know about your house, but I want to know this. Do you have a specific role in the Air Force?
I do. I’m Occupational Health and Safety. It’s like OSHA, but for the Air Force.
I have some friends who do that and home inspections with them were a little interesting.
Yes. I was looking out especially for electrical concerns. It is a huge one for me.
It’s always very difficult for me to explain to people when I show them the pictures of the attic. I’m like, “I haven’t seen one where there’s a correct junction box or the wires aren’t randomly going anywhere.”
That is so true. I can talk about that for hours but I won’t get into it. There’s a reason for that.
For those of you who are going to be buying a house someday, if you never go up to your attic, go up there once. It used to be worse when the installation was foamy, but an open electrical current near dry things is not good. I don’t know anything about home construction, but that I know.
There are a lot of checklists online to help you determine the electrical safety features of your house.
One of the things I learned from one of my people who moved from one city to another was they went online and looked at the top things to do in a city. I was like, “You can never trust those.” He did ten of them and he cross-referenced whatever got mentioned 2 or 3 times. That’s a great one. I’m going to do that with electrical checklists with my buyers.
That is a good idea.
Tell us all about it. You’re coming from Germany. What was the whole reason behind your decision to buy a home?
We got an assignment here at Travis Air Force Base in the Fairfield Area. I was very excited because it was close to home and I hadn’t been back home in ten years. We also just had a son when we got the assignment. He was 23 at the time. It was nice. Coming from Germany and having a small family, I was thinking that it would be nice to buy a house, especially since we’re moving closer to home. This was about July of 2021 that we decided to look and I’m a huge planner.
Honestly, the first thing I did was do a Spotify search for real estate podcasts and you popped up. I don’t think I would have bought a house if it wasn’t for your podcast because I did not understand. It’s usually a quick thought that maybe it’s a good idea to buy a house, but all the preparation and work that goes into that entire process. I listened to you in the morning when I was drinking coffee, during my lunch break, and in the evening until I got an idea, “Can I do this?”
At the end of every episode, I told you, “You can do this.” Briana, you fit right in my wheelhouse. You’re a planner. I tell everyone all the time that this is not a get-rich-quick show. It’s one person at a time starting their personal plan. You listened to me in your earholes and God bless you for doing that three times a day. What were some of the first steps that you took for all our people out there who have no idea where to start?
The first thing I did was grab a pencil because the information was such an overload that I was like, “Let me restart this whole experience and grab a pencil.” I started with that timeline piece. Do I have enough time? We were moving in six months. I’m like, “Do I have the time to even start this process right now?” I followed your show and said, “Let me start from the end and go backwards. If I have the approval 30 days before I want to go into closing, this is where I would be at. Before that, collecting documents two weeks before that.” I ended up right where I was. It was just enough time like a six-month window to do it, but I had to be very dedicated. That went into a different checklist.
For the audience, I raised my hands in excitement when she did that. I’m a huge fan of back calendaring and leaving massive gaps in there.
I think I did a week because we were in Germany to every timeframe that was projected because we knew we would have some hurdles buying a house at the end of the 2021 market, and having some hurdles with a nine-hour time change.
Those are some fun phone calls when you’re dealing with bankers and the escrow people who at 5:02 you cannot get ahold of them.
I had an alarm for midnight every night and I was up from midnight to 2:00 AM in Germany calling people, talking, looking at houses and all those.
You’re an expert. I interviewed some people who did Los Angeles to Portland and I thought that was far. People are like, “I have no idea how to buy a place. We are living out of state.” You are out of the country. How did you do it?
The biggest thing was the research portion and getting into the mindset of being an amateur and very low-scale realtor. What do realtors look at and expect from the buyer? Looking at it from that perspective allowed me to prepare and be one step ahead of my realtor. If she emailed me in the middle of the night for a document, I had already had it. That made it easier for both of us, especially during the transition. Also having those pre-phone calls with the bank and my financial institutions to make sure that I could wire money ahead of time so that when it came time to close, there weren’t issues there too. Those are the two big areas that helped me succeed while being in a different country.
I’m going to break those up into two for the audience. This is so exciting for me. If you did it at home where there wasn’t a time gap or there wasn’t something like that, you’re going to be even more prepared than you were. One of the things you can do is you can ask your realtor to see a contract. Before you go look at a house and you like it, ask him the first time you meet, “Would you give me a contract?” You then go home and you read it. You don’t ask any questions. You just read it because they’re going to fill stuff in. It’s a great thing to do to get ahead.
Also, ask them especially in the ’21 market before you write an offer, “What happens to the 48 hours after I write the offer?” Things move fast. On the closing side, I can’t say it enough, be ready with all the money. Be ready for them to check HR. That’s something that they do a lot. They’ll call your work to make sure you didn’t get fired. For you, it’s pretty easy. With the military, it’s not so tough, but there’s a bunch of stuff that could happen right at the end. You’re so busy figuring out where your moving truck is and all that. I love that you were ready. What about researching online? Did you get your finances together first or did you do the finances and the house shopping at the same time?
Finances came first, especially because I’m married and there are two of us to think about. That was part of the backtracking. The first thing we did after getting a realtor is find that lender and meet with them immediately, and determine the average price and the average closing costs at that exact time to get the closest estimate. Another huge tip that you gave me that I loved was looking for a local lender instead of a mass institution. That was a huge save because the local lender was talking to us as much as we wanted to maybe 4 or 5 times a day, which could have been a lot more difficult with a bigger company.
The fast response allowed us to stay on schedule more often. He gave us a checklist, “If you want to apply alone or if you want to apply together, this is the money that you’ll need.” We added $5,000 and then divided that amount for the months that we had leading up to close. We saved every possible penny we could. That is my best advice. Even if you hit your goal, still save as much possible money because it ended up being about $2,000 more than our highest. If we didn’t save that extra $2,000, we would have lost our dream house. We had just enough money because we canceled all our Europe trips. We wanted this house. We sacrificed as much as we could during those six months and it did pay off.
There are so many things. This is amazing. Everybody out there, you don’t have to hear me say it. This is my second interview of the day that I’ve heard this, the time and service. The online lender or the first person you talk to on the phone is going to make you think they’re exciting. You never talk to that person again. They’re the salesperson. When you deal with your local lender, they’re there for you. The great thing is sometimes if they’re available, they’ll text you back at 9:00 at night before they go to bed, which for you was the middle of the day. We also had been talking to a lot of people. I’ve been asking people what happened after they moved in. What was important?
You seem like a pretty frugal planning person. This was a dream house and you decided to stretch because you found one that you went, “This one, we’re going to go for.”
That process was fast. We started looking at houses in October 2021 and five weeks in, I still wasn’t in love with anything in particular. Having twenty buyers to a house ended up being very discouraging as well. I had an idea of my dream house. I drew a picture. I wrote down the features so we were prepared, but I have such high expectations that I wasn’t expecting to find that house, especially because it’s our first house.
You talked a little bit in your show about setting some reasonable expectations for your first house and I was doing that. I had the picture, but it wasn’t going to be the end goal or the all or nothing. Around the first week of December 2021, I was like, “We need to buy a house.” This house came up and if I could stress anything, it would be that it was the dream house. It had everything and more. Something that I didn’t even think was possible and it felt almost like fate.
Here’s where I have the devil and the angel on my shoulder because I want to make sure that everyone is very understanding. I hear a couple of different things after people close. One is, “There were expenses I wasn’t ready for.” The other thing is I wish I stretched and we got the extra bedroom because it’s only an extra $300 a month and four years later, I got a promotion. Now, we have to call David and sell this house. We could have stayed here for another five years.” I don’t want anybody to be house poor, but your story is great. The reason is if you are approved for a loan, as long as you’re not spending frivolously, the bank looks at you with more scrutiny than you look at yourself.
Know that it’s okay if you stretch for it. If you have your dream scenario, then you go for it and you stretch for it because who knows if you’re going to find that thing that has everything plus more. All that frustrating time that you were out there, it was worth it because when you saw that one with so much extra, it was probably a lot easier to stretch because you realized if you bought that house when you said, “I don’t care. Buy any house.” You’re like, “This is only a couple hundred bucks more than that. Go.”
I agree. That’s exactly how I felt. You have to ask yourself too because some people don’t want to use that entire pre-approval amount. I read that a lot. You have to ask yourself, “Can you live with a little bit less? Cancel that one extra trip a year. Is your dream house worth it?” For us, it was. We’ve traveled the world. We want someplace to raise our son that we love. It was worth it to us to live a little bit less extravagantly because our house to us is extravagance. Having that sanctuary is all you need. It feels like a vacation every single day that you wake up and come home from work. Having that is important.
What got me here too was my unicorn realtor because she kept saying, “If you don’t love it, don’t make the offer.” I was putting too much stress on myself thinking that we were getting too close to the timeframe of sticking to those frames that I set for myself. She said, “I always think that the right house will come. I don’t know why, but that’s how it works. It’s always worked that way. If you aren’t in love with it, wait a little bit longer.” I listened to her and I trusted her. She led me to this. I was very thankful for that.
At what month did you close?
We closed three days before Christmas.
Even during the holidays, slow down when you were putting offers in around Thanksgiving. That time of Thanksgiving ’21 was hectic.
It was and sellers didn’t want inspections. They wanted high offers and low contingencies. The most stressful part was they wanted short escrow periods. They wanted twenty days for this house. If we didn’t do that prep work, we would have not been able to put that in our offer letter that we could do a twenty-day closing. The two reasons why we did a twenty-day closing and got this house where we were prepared and we had a local lender that was totally on board with it is because they weren’t restricted by policies like bigger companies could be restricted under.
She listens to me three times a day when she was getting ready for this. If this is your first time here, find that rewind button on your podcast player. Rewind and listen to that again and again. I was clapping in the background there. The more prepared you are, the more options you have. The more options you have, the better chance you get the dream house. You can close in twenty days if you have the right team working for you. You can be able to offer that if that’s what the seller is asking/demanding in this market. The fact that you had your local lender working for you is incredible. I think you’ve given everybody the understanding of what to do to prepare. Were there any other pitfalls or surprises? It sounds like you prepped a lot. Way too much of me while you were getting ready for breakfast.
It was worth it though. It was such a stressful period. I was stressed so I couldn’t imagine having more stress by being ill-prepared. We even close five days early. That’s how much we got our stuff in. The lender was on point and the realtor as well. The biggest hiccup or the thing that I was surprised about was people not doing inspections and making offers. That threw me way off. I didn’t think it was going to be that competitive.
Also, in the Bay Area, people who are offering cash outright for a property messed up the middle class that doesn’t have that. Another big hurdle that I wasn’t prepared for or thought I wouldn’t be prepared for was during the offer, having the earnest money deposit. When I listened to that episode, I set a little bit more aside so that we can do that. That helped. If I didn’t have that, I think I would have been in trouble making an offer.
It’s so inspiring listening to you. Because while you’re saying all this stuff, as much as I’m getting excited that the audience is learning and they’re going to avoid problems, I also keep replaying it in my head. You talking about coming home to this place that makes you and the family so happy, so it’s worth it.
For everybody who is getting ready to get out there, remember that every market has good things and bad things. Briana, your partner and your little boy, not that he had anything to do with the whole process, but it was for him. You had to deal with a lot of competition, but despite all that frustration you had during that competition, you still found the dream house.
The people right now are saying to me, “This is so hard because interest rates went up and it costs more.” It’s never going to be perfect. Either it’s going to be cheap and everybody is going to be going after it or it’s going to be a little bit more expensive. The moral is to do your homework, get ready, and wait until you find it.
A lot of people expect perfect situations and nothing’s perfect, especially something worth fighting for. There’s always going to be that thing that discourages you. Getting offers denied was discouraging but looking back, I could tell myself that it wasn’t the right house. It wasn’t meant to be. Just keep preparing and keeping strong, that would have helped me reduce my stress because, in reality, the timeframes were so tight.
This house went on the market on a Thursday and they wanted to pick an offer by Monday morning. There were four days to get in. If we did it right, we were going to be one of the few offers because people will come in and love the house, but they might not be as prepared as I am. It puts me a leg up even from people who might have more money or not low contingencies. It’s because I got my documents in and was ready to buy this house that sets you apart in those situations.
People say to me, “I don’t know if I want to stretch.” I’m like, “You didn’t prepare enough.” You were ready to go all-in. Thank God you had the extra couple of grand. I’ve had people that have called the uncle they haven’t talked to in ten years when they get that perfect house, “I need $2,500. We’ll pay you back in the next three months, but I need to cover this little appraisal gap,” or whatever it is.
We could have waited three more months and looked, but we knew we wanted the house by the end of December because the market was so volatile then. January 2022 rolled around and interest rates were at an all-time low. We wanted to not go into an apartment. The biggest motivating factor was you in my head saying, “Don’t waste the money on rents. That is a forced savings account. Don’t do it to yourself.” That motivated me. We didn’t even buy Christmas presents. We got a little Charlie Brown tree and I’m like, “We’re going to do this.”
You can put some tinsel on yourself and run around the house, “Here’s our present.”
That’s exactly what my son did. He loved it.
That’s going to be memories forever. I’ve tried on the show to say this but I’m glad that you heard and that it was enough to get you to understand that if you prepare, you can get this perfect storm. Briana is talking about not only fighting the fight. Think about it. What if one of those cash buyers hadn’t come in on the house that you wanted that was a couple pegs below this one?
It felt horrible at the time, but because you were prepared and you were ready to go, you were ready to take something because it was going to be a forced savings account, but because you had all those options, you got the best of both worlds. Now everyone is going to think that everyone is going to be able to do this and they’re going to call me up and be mad at me. The more you prepare, the better your chances.
Also, be realistic. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready, but when you are ready and you’re prepared, you won’t be disappointed.
I’m so thrilled. I could talk forever, but I know people probably want to stop doing the dishes or whatever they’re doing. Thank you for being so inspiring and helping everybody understand. When people tell me, “This is so hard. I need to take a day off of work.” Gang, she was in Germany. Get over it.
It was worth it. We already have equity built on the house. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our emails and setting us up with our unicorn real estate agent because she made a difference. Even trusting her with how much we wanted to offer and jumping in the pool was everything. It was the right amount to establish a little equity. We don’t regret any part of that journey at all.
It’s so fun because here we are. If you’re reading this in the future, this is the summer of 2022. There are all these articles coming out about all these new realtors that got in the game. A lot of my unicorn people are people that I have met over the years by going to these conferences all over the country. I meet 400 or 500 people a weekend. I’m only talking to about a dozen after the weekend. I’m always thinking to myself, “I wish I had somebody moving from my area who was going to move to your town.” I then got the idea for the show a few years ago so it’s so exciting because someone like you deserves it. I never had anybody in my town move to your town but now because of the show, I can say, “I know someone awesome there.”
Networking is so important to help people and by you having those contacts and networking, your reach is so much further than just in Southern California. You’re doing a lot to help people and get people to a place in their life where they feel proud of something. Buying a house is such a big step in your life, and feeling that pride of being a homeowner is incomparable to anything.
It warms my heart. Thank you so much. Everybody, learn from Briana. Do what she says. I can’t say anything better than that. Thank you so much and enjoy your lovely home.
Thank you. Bye.
That interview was amazing. I was so excited. I sounded like a giddy little kid hopped up on sugar. If that tells you anything, what excites me the most about the show and about this revolution is for you to hear real people, being able to explain the thing that I’ve been trying to explain to my small little group of people here in Southern California and now, getting a chance to explain it to people all over the country.
I don’t have very much to say about this because Briana said everything. If you want to learn how to buy a home, go back to this episode. As I said, it’s summertime so I think I’m going to drop fewer episodes than I usually do weekly. If you’re joining our next episode, go back to this one again. That girl had so many wonderful and helpful things to say. She had so many great tips and I am seriously on cloud nine.
I hope that you find your dream house. I hope that you love your dream house as much as I love this job. Being able to help people understand what they’re capable of, helping them become planners, getting super nerdy about the planning, and getting to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I don’t know what to say. Go back to this episode. There are lots of great stuff on there. Write a review and share this episode with everyone. This is a great one to share. Share it with your friends. It tells you not only tips, tricks, guides and hacks, but there’s real optimism and practical things that you can do to help you be in the same position that she’s in.
Go to HowToBuyAHome.com if you’ve got any questions. Drop your question in there and I’ll get back to you. There’s a place there where you can do a first-time buyer starter kit or you can find your own unicorn. Check me out on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and all that stuff. Read this one again. Save this one on your phone. That interview makes me happy and I hope more and more people read that so everyone knows this is a possibility for everybody who’s thinking about trying to replace their rent with a mortgage. You can do this.
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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!