Our Journey on the Path To Home Ownership

– – –

My husband and I took what you might call the “non-traditional” route to buying our first home. We got married young, started our family while we were still in college, and struggled with finances for years while my husband established himself in his career.

Home ownership always seemed like a big, frightening, nearly impossible dream. But we’re finally in the process of buying our first home, and all because we decided to think outside the box and arm ourselves with the information we’ll need to succeed.

Our home, surrounded by trees on a lovely cul-de-sac. We've been working for months on getting the front yard ready for grass. We're almost there!

Our home, surrounded by trees on a lovely cul-de-sac. We’ve been working for months on getting the front yard ready for grass. We’re almost there!

According to the Capital One Home Loans Online Neighborhood, most people have four main misconceptions about buying a home – one of them being that you cannot have any debt to qualify for a loan. This is probably what scared us off the most about the home-buying process, along with the fear that we’d need 20% of our down payment up front. In reality, not all debt is bad, and not all loans require a 20% down payment – there really are greater possibilities for home ownership than some people might think.

The view from our porch, which runs the length of the house. It's so peaceful here!

The view from our porch, which runs the length of the house. It’s so peaceful here!

It’s information like this from the Home Loans Learning Center – a free online resource from Capital One – that helps people become the savviest homeowners on the block. Capital One has gathered easy-to-understand articles and helpful videos, as well as information about Capital One’s Home Loans offerings to help first-time homebuyers understand how the home loan process works.

The heart of our home, just past the entry: the dining room and living room. We spend hours here together as a family - eating dinner, playing games, watching movies. I wish we had more natural light (there are no windows from the front, and light from the back windows is blocked by all the wonderful trees in our yard), but I do love this part of the house.

The heart of our home, just past the entry: the dining room and living room. We spend hours here together as a family – eating dinner, playing games, watching movies. I wish we had more natural light (there are no windows from the front, and light from the back windows is blocked by all the wonderful trees in our yard), but I do love this part of the house.

In our case, we’ve been renters our entire married life. In fact, we’re currently renting the home we’ve just put an offer on to purchase. The owners were interested in selling, and we were able to work up a contract that satisfied both parties. It’s rare – and a huge blessing! – to already know the ins-and-out of the home we’ll be buying.

For so long, we thought renting allowed us to be unencumbered and flexible, but we’ve come to understand the long-term financial gain of buying a home, and coupled with knowing and understanding the strong market in our area, we’re motivated to buy.

Location, location, location! Our neighborhood has acres and acres of greenspace, with trails and benches throughout. It's gorgeous here!

Location, location, location! Our neighborhood has acres and acres of greenspace, with trails and benches throughout. It’s gorgeous here!

But where to start? Fortunately, the Capital One Home Loans Learning Center also has details on all the documents you need to apply for a mortgage, what the different mortgage types are, and how to figure out how much house you can even afford.

Whatever your route to home ownership, I’ve learned a few things on our journey that might help you on your way: stay focused, stay positive, get all the facts – along with a professional who can be a support and advocate for you, and do what needs to be done. Home ownership is certainly a dream, but not one that comes true by waving a magic wand. It’s a careful, mindful process, but can absolutely be achieved with the right attitude and the right information and help on your side.

Your turn: tell me about the first home you bought, or the first one you hope to buy!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.