This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.

10 things to do before buying your first home

If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you know that I am coming upon a year of home ownership! I can’t believe we have lived in our first home for almost a year now. It’s crazy to me that this time last year we had put an offer in on this house but we weren’t living here yet and didn’t even have Sabrina yet. My how life can change in one year!

A house is the biggest, most expensive purchase you will probably ever make in your life. I will never forget how nervous I was going into the house buying process. There are so many what-ifs. I remember googling all my questions and asking every home owner I know for their words of wisdom!

There were several things we did before deciding to purchase a home and I will share them with you in this post!

1) Be at the right point in life. Don’t just buy a house because you’re sick of renting! We thought it was a good time to buy a house because we are finally in a place in our lives and in a physical location where we wanted to plant roots. My husband has a stable job that he likes, my oldest will be registering for school in a year, and we had the means. It was a perfect time for us to stop renting and start investing in a home.

2) Find out how much you are pre-approved for. This is kind of the starting point to buying a home to begin with. You have to know how much money you are allowed to borrow from the bank before you begin to search!

3) Decide how you want to spend your money. We toured a lot of houses in our price range that looked nice on the inside and didn’t need any work. We also toured a few houses that needed a ton of work. If a house is in your price range now but in the next five years it will need a new roof, furnace, A/C and carpet, you might not be as happy with it as you’d like. Nobody wants to sink every paycheck into their home! However, if you love a DIY project and you see major potential in a home way below your price range, it may be a great way to customize your dream home!

4) Determine where you want to live. We live about 35 minutes from the city my husband works in. There were many suburbs we could have chosen to live in that cost an arm and a leg. We chose a slightly longer commute for a safe community with great schools and lower property taxes. Our families live an hour and a half away and three hours away but we decided to plant roots here because of the job security that comes with living so close to a big city.

home sweet home5) Come up with a wish list. When we were looking for a house, we had a wish list of things that we really wanted our future home to include or be able to accommodate. On that list for me was a fenced in backyard for the dog, wood flooring, at least two full bathrooms, a basement, an updated kitchen, at least 3 bedrooms, and large master bedroom closets. There were a few items on that list I had to make sure were honored, and there were some negotiables. In the end, each of my girls was able to claim their own room, my kitchen is plenty spacious and updated, we have an awesome basement, and I have just enough space in my bathroom and bedroom for my stuff. Someday in another home, I would love to have wood floors, a home office, and my dog would love to have free reign of the yard with a fence, but those are dreams for another house down the line now!

6) Check out any funky Home Owner’s Association rules. Some neighborhoods have rules that everyone has to abide by. If it was always your dream to paint your house yellow but your neighborhood covenant doesn’t allow it, that’s something to keep in mind. If it’s against the rules to park a trailer or a boat in the driveway for more than 24 hours and you don’t have the garage space, you may find yourself having to rent a long term storage unit.

7) Have some emergency loan plans in place. What will you do if the roof leaks or the furnace goes out? Not everything is covered by your home owner’s insurance policy. And unlike renting, if something goes wrong, you will have to replace it rather than counting on your landlord to make it right. We recently had our dishwasher die, and had to decide between going without or replacing it out of pocket. Little expenses add up, and some expenses like a roof are a HUGE expense. Make sure you are saving responsibly for future emergencies.

8) If your life changes, can you still afford the home? We were lucky in that I’ve stayed home with children since we’ve had them, so we’ve always lived off of one income since we started off. But if you are buying a home with two incomes in mind and one of you plans to stay home after having kids, how are you going to make that work? You don’t want to put yourself in a position where a future life change will jeopardize your family staying in your home.

9) How much are you going to put as a down payment? I quickly discovered when we were searching for homes online that the price they quote as the monthly payment is assuming that you have 20% down. Few people have that sort of money laying around. Depending on the type of loan you take out for your home, you may not need a down payment. A VA loan doesn’t penalize you if you don’t make a down payment. But most lenders do require money down, and 20% down on a house is a huge sum of money. Think about saving a couple years of tax returns, setting aside money from each paycheck, or taking a second job for a year to make some extra funds if saving seems like it will be a crunch for your family!

10) Can you picture making this house into a home? When we toured this house I got the feeling that it was the perfect first home for us. There were things I didn’t love about the house, but I could visualize where we would put our things in our bedroom. I could see how the basement would easily transform into a playroom for my girls. I liked how close our home was to the nearest grocery store and schools. All in all, I could see beyond some of the flaws to how we could make the house a home and meet our needs for the foreseeable future.

The home buying process has really made me aware of saving for a rainy day, and for a sunny day. What is a Sunny Day? It’s the feeling of optimism, confidence, and control around your money. It’s a moment in life when a goal or aspiration becomes a reality. Buying a home was a dream come true for us, and it was a day when a lot of our hard work and saving paid off in a big way!

No matter how you envision your sunny day, SunTrust wants to support you, inspire you, and motivate you through advice, tips, and tools so you can live for a sunny day rather than save for a rainy one. Everyone deserves the financial confidence to live a life well-spent and we should all be planning for sunny days!

What is your sunny day? Begin planning yours at

Subscribe to the Shine newsletter and receive inspiration and advice twice a month to help you live for a sunny day.

Visit the SunTrust resource center anytime for help achieving your financial goals.

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Sunny Days start here.  At SunTrust, they have the tools and resources to help you achieve your sunny day. Start here to find out how they can help you enjoy the things that matter to you.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  They know we all live for the sunny days and want to you help you live yours.

For even more sunny day inpiration visit

Subscribe to the Shine newsletter and receive inspiration and advice twice a month to help you live for a sunny day.  

Visit the SunTrust resource center anytime for help achieving your financial goals. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.


2 Comments on 10 Things To Do Before Buying Your First Home

  1. Jessica T
    August 11, 2015 at 11:11 am (2 years ago)

    Great tips, thanks for sharing! I’m about to move into my first house and it’s definitely an exciting process but it can also be stressful when you don’t know all the information going into it.

    • justina
      August 11, 2015 at 1:21 pm (2 years ago)

      Good luck, Jessica! I think you are definitely ready! It’s a lot of info to know though going in, for sure!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *