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An Interview With a Millennial, First-Time Homebuyer: Tashell Harris

We interviewed a first-time homebuyer, Tashell Harris, to learn how she felt about completing the home buying process from start to finish with the Erica Rawls Team.

On our latest “Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues” Facebook live show, we sat with one of our first-time homebuyers, Tashell Harris, to learn her perspective of going through the homebuying process.

Tashell is a millennial woman and mother who recently purchased her first home with the help of one of our buyer specialists, Sheena Lansannah.

Our goal at the Erica Rawls Team is to help our clients, like Tashell, become responsible homeowners.

We’re not interested in only selling you a home.

As realtors, we want to properly guide our potential homeowners so they have all the tools necessary to feel confident making this important investment and life-changing decision.

And, for prospective clients, we know it’s best to learn what the process is like when they hear about the realities directly from our clients mouths – especially for first-time homebuyers who feel that it is unattainable.

If you’re considering buying a home in Central Pennsylvania, especially during this competitive market, contact us today and we can help you start the process with a homebuyers consultation.

An Interview With a Millenial, First-Time Homebuyer

Tashell joined our Keeping It Real with the Erica Rawls Team Facebook live show to share her experience about buying her first home as a young adult and working with our team.

We spoke with Tashell and her buyer specialist, Sheena Lansannah, on several topics related to her individual process, and asked her the following questions:

  • “When Did You Know It Was The Right Time to Purchase a Home?”
  • “What Were Some of the Reservations You Had About Being a Potential Homebuyer?”
  • “What Were Some of the Challenges You Faced?”
  • “How Often Did You Have to Write on a Property? Did You Have to Re-Strategize Throughout the Middle of Your Process?”
  • “Do You Mind Sharing Your Strategies?”
  • “How Did You Feel About Possibly Having To Waive Inspections?”
  • “So, What Would You Tell Your Friends Who Are on the Fence About Buying a House?”
  • “What Do You Wish You Knew Before Going In That You Learned Going Through the Process?”

“When Did You Know It Was The Right Time to Purchase a Home?”

It’s normal for people to have some resistance to buying a home, and Tashell said she was no different. Growing up, she said she didn’t know a lot of people that owned their homes. And, for the people that did own their homes, those individuals made it seem like it was a difficult process.

“I knew that I wanted to do it because renting was getting higher and higher,” Tashell said.

She told us how one of her friends went through the homebuying process and explained to her that it wasn’t that bad once they talked about the ins and outs of the process.

“I actually felt like I wasn’t going to be ready until another year or two,” Tashell said.

She talked to Sheena last year and told her she wanted to buy a home within 1 ½ to 2 years. From there, Sheena talked her through the process.

After Sheena sat down with Tashell to go over the details, Tashell realized the process was faster than she expected.

“What Were Some of the Reservations You Had About Being a Potential Homebuyer?”

As her buyer specialist, Sheena worked with Tashell and communicated often, so she was well aware of her reservations about buying a house for the first time.

As a young adult who has never purchased a new home before, Tashell was concerned about:

  • How much house she could afford
  • What a mortgage payment looked like
  • Whether a mortgage was something she could commit to for the duration of the term she signed up for (e.g 30 year-mortgage)
  • What her responsibilities would be as a homeowner (e.g. home maintenance)

The last bullet point about the responsibilities of homeowners is a concern we hear about from many of our first-time homebuyers.

One of the reasons you typically enjoy renting is because you have the ability to call someone else to handle things when they stop working, such as a leaky roof or the plumbing, Sheena explained.

When you’re talking to someone about purchasing a home, the person will usually react by saying, ”What do you mean I have to do all of this by myself?”

Educating Tashell on all aspects of the process and explaining the tools that can help her protect her investment is what eased some of her initial reservations, Sheena said.

It also helped that Tashell came to us prepared with information.

“What Were Some of the Challenges You Faced?”

“In the beginning, my credit,” Tashell said.

Early on in the process, Tashell said she didn’t know where her credit had to be and she was nervous about the items on her credit, like student loans, because she didn’t know how mortgage lenders take those into account.

As her buyer specialist, Sheena worked with Tashell and developed a plan to get her credit moving forward.

In addition to her credit, saving was another challenge, Tashell said. She often had to remind herself she didn’t need certain things and also turned down trips with friends to cut back on unnecessary spending.

Tashell was dedicated to making sure her finances and credit were in order, but it was hard, she explained.

The beginning — building her credit and saving — was the hardest part.

At the Erica Rawls Team, we believe you should do all the hard work in the beginning because shopping is the easiest part of the process.

Now, in this current market, the other hard part is competing.

You can’t compete if you don’t know what you’re working with.

Once Tashell had her credit and savings in place the next challenge she faced as a first-time homebuyer was actually trying to find a house because “the market was crazy,” she said.

“Did You Have to Re-Strategize Throughout the Middle of Your Process?”

“Yes, we did,” Tashell said.

“In the middle, we had to figure out how to lower her seller’s help in order to get her a little bit more leverage when it came to competing offers,” Sheena explained.

Tashell went under contract with her home right before the market went “bananas.”

“Now, finding someone to accept seller’s help — and in your price range — is kind of like few and far in between,” Sheena said, “She definitely had favor in that area when it came to her going under contract.”

“Do You Mind Sharing Your Strategies?”

Tashell’s homeownership journey involved several possible contingencies, such as receiving seller’s assistance, and she was still able to purchase a home in this competitive real estate market in the neighborhood she wanted.

We asked Sheena and Tashell to discuss what they did to re-strategize during the process when faced with challenges.

“We legit ran numbers on every house she sent me,” Sheena said. “And this is why your lender matters, and it’s so important for the realtor to have a good relationship with the lender,” she explained.

We ran numbers for Tashell because she was in a competitive market and needed seller’s help, Sheena explained. We looked at the taxes for the house because the taxes will lower how much seller’s help she would need.

The higher the taxes are for the house the more seller’s assistance a buyer will need to get to the closing table.

“So, we were strategically looking for those houses in a certain tax range to be able to lower [the amount of] her seller’s help needed,” Sheena said.

By focusing on the taxes of the property, we help our buyers, like Tashell, potentially gain more of a competitive advantage because they won’t be required to request assistance from their seller to get to the closing table.

Also, another thing to keep in mind when you’re buying a house is the amount of taxes for the house will affect your monthly payment — by either increasing or decreasing it — and can potentially knock you out of a price range that you may ordinarily qualify for.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, The Erica Rawls Team highly recommends you thoroughly vet your realtors and mortgage lenders because those two individuals will truly make a difference in your home buying experience, especially when it comes to understanding how to work with your needs to get you the best possible deal.

Another strategy Sheena and Tashell had to re-evaluate was related to inspections. Not only was Tashell an Federal Housing Administration (FHA) buyer, she also needed seller’s help, and an FHA appraisal/ inspection.

Since Tashell had three potential contingencies against her, we were trying to determine her comfort level with eliminating some of those contingencies, Sheena explained.

“How Did You Feel About Possibly Having To Waive Inspections?”

“I think I was only comfortable because of the way Sheena explained it,” Tashell said.

There were times we would look at a house where another individual waived the inspection and Sheena told me she wouldn’t advise me to do that, Tashell said. Because I’m not the expert I would go off what Sheena explained, and she told me she would not advise me to waive an inspection if she didn’t think I should. It was a house-by-house basis and we were both thoroughly looking at the properties, too. Tashell said.

We’ve shown our fair share of properties as realtors, so, while we’re not experts, we’ll know if there’s a termite tunnel or bees. We know the basics.

Tashell also had FHA financing, and with that type of financing you must have an FHA home inspection as part of the appraisal process so it covers finding any potential hazards and safety issues.

As a homebuyer, you also receive a seller’s property disclosure, which may detail when the roof/HVAC was last repaired/serviced, that will also help with determining what may need to be fixed.

“So, What Would You Tell Your Friends Who Are on the Fence About Buying a House?”

“I would tell them all go for it now. It makes more sense money-wise, especially when you rent in this day and age,” Tashell said.

If you want to do it, Tashell recommends watching your credit early on before you even get into the process. She had one late payment in 2017 that was still affecting her in 2020. If you’re going to look for a home, be careful about credit and spending, she cautioned.

“Go for it. Talk to someone. Sit down and get more details because you only one what you think you know, and you’re not going to know until you sit down with someone,” Tashell said.

How Can You Get More Content About What to Expect as a Homebuyer?

Like Erica Rawls Team on Facebook or follow @EricaRawlsTeam on Instagram, and tune-in Wednesdays for “Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues!”

Contact the Erica Rawls Team if you’re ready to buy or sell your first home in Central PA!

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