This is a guest post from Jenna Forstrom.

I always wanted to have my own house.  My parents flipped houses while I was growing up and I like creating spaces and using my hands, plus it always sounded like a good investment.  I graduated college at 21 and decided my next goal was to buy a house by 25.  So, after graduation, I moved back home to Portland to live with my mom.

Some people may need to ask themselves if they truly want to own a home and all that comes with it. But for me, this was easy. Yes, I wanted a house.  Therefore living in suburbia with my mom while I saved money was worth it.  And after two years of saving money, I decided it was time to start looking.  I met with a realtor and started coming up with requirements for my future house.

What do you NEED in a house?

My list of needs:

  1. Location – It needed to be in Portland, close to public transportation and near a particular college, just in case I wanted to turn my future home into a future rental property.
  2. Size – A minimum of three bedrooms. My younger brother was graduating from college soon, and I wanted to have space for him to live with me and either have a guest room or another roommate.
  3. Driveway – City parking is a pain.  If I’m going to live here, I want to keep my hardly-used car in its own space.  Plus, I needed somewhere off the curb to store my camper.  I wasn’t going to own a home and pay rent to keep it somewhere else.
  4. Affordable – I had a tight budget and wanted to stay within it.  I used the “Say Yes to the Dress” motto with my realtor.  “If I can only afford a $1,000 wedding dress, don’t put me in a $10,000 wedding dress.  I know it will look better, but it only gets my hopes up.”  Obviously, a more expensive house will be better, that is why they cost more!
  5. Forever – I wanted a house I could live in forever, from roommate to babies to retirement.  Or something I could rent out if I choose to move to China for some reason.  Not a starter home.

I spent 18 months looking for my house.  I was in no rush, I wasn’t getting married or having a child anytime soon.  This gave me more time to save for my future home and regularly research and check out various houses that fit within my “needs” criteria.  That being said, have an end date. Your realtor will thank you.  Mine was my younger brother’s graduation, June 2012.

I put 20 percent down in order to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) or needing a co-signer on my loan.  Things have changed in the last couple of years that have made it harder for young people to qualify for a mortgage.  I had okay credit, but not enough history.  Make sure you have a good credit score and consider saving more for a down payment. Also, since I use Adaptu, I was able to keep a close eye on my monthly spending while I was saving up for my dream house. This motivated me to cut costs whenever possible.  Plus, now I can track my mortgage payments and property value through Adaptu.

I bought my dream house in March 2012, six months into my 25th year and three months before my brother graduated.  That was just enough time to close and get the pipes working so we had running water when I moved in.

What did you consider when buying your first home?  What do you wish you would have considered?

This article is about Ask the Readers, House and Home, Planning