Honestly you guys, I am really surprised to know how many of you are interested in my home buying process. If you are new around here, you may or may not know that we recently purchased our second home, while 9 months pregnant and during the height of the pandemic. Yup, chaotic to say the very least. But it wasn't meant to be this way, we didn't plan to close 4 days before I gave birth but as life would have it in 2020, sh*t happens and we closed on our house on July 31st and our baby was born on August 4th. 

In full transparency, it wasn't easy at all, we put our old house on the market the first week in March and we received an offer (over asking price) the very next day.  Of course we accepted it, then a week later, COVID-19 happened. We weren't able to look at houses for two and a half months, the market was at a stand still. Thankfully we had a clause in our sale contract to protect us while we found our home. Tip one: always protect yourself! So many unprecedented things can happen at any given point. 

I am a planner, through and through. We "planned" on selling our first house from the moment we bought it. Our goal was to be there 5 years and this month (October 2020) would've been exactly 5 years at that house. All this to say, we began the vision very early on but the actual process last year. We called our realtor fall 2019 and started looking at what was available and scouting potential towns. We knew we weren't going to move in 2019 but it's always good to do your research early on and narrow down towns and options with ample time so you don't end up rushing such a big decision.

But enough of that, let's get straight to the point and answer some of your most asked questions on buying a house during a pandemic.

1. How do you begin the home buying process? 

Find a great realtor and make sure that it's someone that you trust. It's important that they understand your needs, wants and are always looking out for your best interest. Especially in a market like today's! Honesty and respect go a long way. I would ask family and friends for references and see who they used and if they had a great experience. This is such a big purchase, make sure you feel comfortable and 150% happy with your realtor. Follow your gut. I once had a realtor who would only show us sh*tty houses... she even told me I would never find something with my budget. Ha! Joke was on her. We dropped her and found the realtor of our dreams through a friend's reference. 

Your realtor should refer you to a mortgage lender and the mortgage lender will process your pre-approval letter after you provide them with all the documents and information they need. This is when you get the magic number, or the amount of the loan you are approved for. Once you are pre-approved, you can start looking at homes within your budget. That's when the fun begins. 

2. The market is way over priced, what should I do? 

To be completely honest, if it were us, we would hold off on buying a house right now. We got really lucky and were able to put in our offer right before the market went bananas. But remember we had been "looking" since March right before the pandemic hit. Dave and I have always looked at our home purchases as an investment, we look to buy at a good price and good condition to be able to sale and make a profit in the future. We are not "forever home" people yet. We are "for a few year" people for now, so it's important that we are able to purchase well and resell amazingly, if need be. 

3. Is credit very important or no? 

Credit is absolutely THE most important component of buying a house (in my opinion) and not just for purchasing a house... You should care and nourish your credit from the beginning of time because it's going to help you get the best interest rates and loans; whether you are buying a house,  car and even if you plan on renting an apt. So please take care of your credit and if you have bad credit, there are always ways to fix it. 

4. Where to buy in New Jersey?

Honestly, it all depends on what YOU are looking for. What I mean is, it's all relative to each individual's needs. New Jersey has so much diversity when it comes to towns. I honestly feel like there is no wrong or right answer for this one. It all depends on what your needs and wants are. What is your current status? Do you have children? Are schools important to you right now? Do you want to be close to the city? Commuting distance? 

These are all questions to consider. For us, being a family of 6 (if you count the dog!) and having small children, schools are our top priority when it comes to home buying. We actually moved because we wanted a better school district. We live in Central NJ and I love it because We are close to NYC and also to the beach. So I would first make a list of your wants and needs and go from there. 

5. When did you know it was time to move? 

We always knew we would sell our first house. It was a great purchase, we got a great deal for the condition of the home.  I loved that house but didn't love the location, we always knew that going in and wanted to move once the kids were bigger. Now that Emme was 5 and going to kindergarten, it made sense to make the move - no pun intended lol. 

6. What's an ideal amount to save for a down payment? 

This all depends on your budget and what you are looking to buy. The first time we purchased our home we put down 3.5% under an FHA loan. This second time we did 10% of the house price on a conventional loan. It's all very personal to your situation to be honest. 

7. Did you make a contingent offer on the new home, if so, did that make the process harder? 

Absolutely! We had a contingency because we were selling and buying and didn't want to be homeless. Thank God we did because that's when the pandemic hit and we were safe. In simple words, our contingency stated that we couldn't sell our home (even though we had accepted the offer) unless we found a new place to live. 

8. What made you sell your house? 

Schools was the priority but besides that our first house was exactly that, a first house. It was on the smaller side and I didn't love the location. It was near a busy road and while we loved the interior and  how we made it our own, the rooms weren't spacious and it was not the open concept we wanted. 

9. Did you know what town you want to look in or was it random? 

We had 3 towns we looked into, so yes we knew where we wanted to go. In my opinion, you should do all your research, schools, downtown access, main roads, distance from your job, distance from family, etc...

10. Once you put the offer, did they accept right away? Did you have to offer more money? 

We did not offer more than asking price. And yes, everything happened very quickly, within 2 days actually. But to be fair, I have heard that the current market is very different. There are bidding wars, houses are being over priced and there's a lot of delays with mortgage companies and closing documents. 

11. How did you manage being pregnant/ having a newborn? 

In full transparency, I was a mess. It was extremely stressful. We were not supposed to close 4 days before my baby's birth but it happened that way because well... 2020 right? There was a point we had no control over the closing date and it was all a sh*t show. I cried daily because we were at my mom's house at that point due to some paper work discrepancy's on our buyer's side. I had no idea when the baby would come and low and behold, we closed on July 31st and he was born on August 4. 

12. How did you budget yourself when buying a new house/deciding what is a feasible mortgage?

Honestly, my husband is great at budgeting. I am good at a lot of things but budgets is not one of them. Sad but true! But what I can tell you is that you can make it work, I promise. I remember when we first got married, we thought we could never afford a mortgage and even worse save all that money for the down payment. 

By the time we bought our house, we had two kids and I was not working full-time. So we lowered our cable bill to the basic package and got Netflix. We also bought and paid off used cars. There are so many ways to cut down on your monthly expenses. You just have to be organized and be strict with your budgeting. 

I truly hope this information is helpful to you. I love sharing anything that can help at least one of you. If you have anymore questions, leave a comment or DM me on Instagram (@byerikabatista).