JT and I bought our home in March of 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic. When we started the process in January of 2020 we had no idea what was around the corner. But buying a house as an entrepreneur still felt like a huge step. The day we closed on our house was the day Disneyworld closed… followed shortly by the rest of the country. When I look back I’m incredibly grateful for the timing. Having our own space during the lockdown provided a lot of security and a sense of safety for us. And ultimately we only felt comfortable with the timing because we had prepared in advance for it.
There are a lot of things to think about when you’re buying a house as an entrepreneur. And as a chronic over preparer, I thought about ALL of them. I want to be clear that I’m not a financial planner, a real estate agent, or a broker. These are just the questions that really mattered to us when we were buying our home. If you’re buying a house as an entrepreneur I bet they will matter to you too!
- How did we know if buying a house was the right decision?
- How could we afford the down payment and monthly mortgage payments on top of everything else?
- How do you find the right broker who understands your unique situation? And how do you get approved for a mortgage when your income is unconventional?
How did we know if buying a house was the right decision?
Making sure that buying a house was the right decision was something we thought about since we were dating. Then when we got engaged we started talking about it more seriously. I don’t think home ownership is for everyone, but it was always something I wanted. JT and I wanted a place that could be personalized for us. We both really wanted a dog and a backyard for the dog to play in. But most importantly we wanted to put down roots in your community and establish ties with your neighbors. Now that we’ve been here two years, even in the midst of a pandemic it’s given us all that and more. JT takes out our elderly neighbors trash and recycling every week. We have puppy play dates with neighbors. We even trade home grown veggies for fresh laid eggs with a different neighbor. The community is more than I ever thought I would have.
How could we afford the down payment and monthly mortgage payments on top of everything else?
Before buying our home we were living in a 600 sq ft apartment to save money. And it was… cozy. There wasn’t enough space for an office, so what would have been a dining area became my office. Our pantry? Storage for my business. We ate all our meals in the living room or on the patio. I booked every single wedding I photographed at a Starbucks while watching the people I admired have amazing studios. It was worth it because we knew what our big goal was… a house with a dog. So we researched down payment percentages and we started saving. Anytime I wanted to buy something I asked would I rather have this or a house. Not going to lie sometimes the thing I wanted to buy won. But it helped me keep track of my priorities.
When it came time to get pre-approved for a mortgage amount we actually got preapproved for a number much bigger than we were comfortable spending. We sat down and calculated what the minimum amount of money we needed to make to cover our monthly expenses would be. And then, most importantly, we made sure we could cover that number on just ONE of our salaries.
For us, the most important thing was that we could afford our mortgage and our bills on just one salary.
And if you remember from earlier, we closed on our home as the world shut down. As a wedding photographer that was a huge hit to our finances. If we had bought a house at the top of our pre-approval number we would have been in big trouble. Thankfully, as a dual income household we had planned for that possibility.
How do you find the right broker who understands your unique situation? And how do you get approved for a mortgage when your income is unconventional?
The final piece of the puzzle was a broker who understood that our financial situation was different than two traditionally employed people. Here is where, and I can’t stress this enough, you should take the recommendations of the professionals you’re working with. Your real estate agent will have worked with brokers hat they love who make the process go really smoothly, and brokers who aren’t as good. hey have professional working relationships with other professionals, and taking their advice will serve you the absolute best!
When I first started thinking about buying a house as an entrepreneur I was scared. I didn’t know if we’d be able to get a mortgage. But taking time to really think things through helped me realize that we could do it, and I’m so glad we did. I hope hearing about our journey inspires you on your journey. If you have any more detailed questions or just want to chat about possibilities please send me a message and we can chat!