By Katie Hawkins, as told to Natalie Wise
A lot of people think I’m crazy for buying a house by myself in the city. It comes up a lot in conversation. People think buying a house is something you do as a couple once you get married. But I don’t want to pay rent my whole life. I’d rather make the most of my money.
Still, every time I looked at the numbers for buying a house, they were big. But every time I paid my rent, all I could think about was how that money could be going toward a house. Real estate in Atlanta is expensive, but so is rent.
I didn’t think I had the purchasing power for a traditional loan until a friend told me about a different kind of loan that required living in a non-gentrified neighborhood for five years to qualify for no down payment. I took this as a sign and decided to talk to a real estate agent.
The real estate agent found me an even better loan, where I didn’t have to commit to staying for five years. As soon as I realized I really might be able to buy a house, I cut back on everything, spending as little as possible and saving as much as I could. You don’t even want to know how little my food budget was or how much ramen I ate.
Originally I wanted a fixer-upper, thinking I could have roommates to cover the cost of renovating. But after offers I put in on two homes fell through, I found a small condo.
The purchasing process itself wasn’t easy. I had a lot of trouble closing the deal, but we made it happen. I was 28 when I bought the condo.
My best advice to anyone looking to buy a home is to find a good real estate agent. I felt very alone throughout much of the home-buying process. Most of my friends had their husbands to lean on emotionally, but I was on my own. My agent made things easier for me. The best tip he gave me was to drive by houses I was interested in at night to make sure the neighborhood felt safe to me.
Negotiating the price took a month and a half. I had already moved out of my apartment, so I was couch-surfing with friends. When I felt I had overstayed my welcome, I slept a few nights in my car.
That was the breaking point. When my real estate agent heard that, he told the clients, and they signed the next day. I had to pay closing costs, though, which took every bit I had saved at the beginning.
Home sweet home
My condo is located in Grant Park, a fun neighborhood in Atlanta. Location is one of the main reasons I put in an offer on the place. I love the neighborly feel of having a park outside my door and a popular coffee shop less than a minute walk away, and being able to bike to work on the Beltline.
The condo is small, with only 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. But it feels cozy, and I’m making it more and more like home each day. My favorite feature of the condo is actually the hall coat closet, which are surprisingly uncommon in apartments and condos. It’s more of a home feature. I also love my walk-in closet.
I was lucky that the bathroom had just been renovated before I moved in. I’ll probably want to upgrade the kitchen appliances soon, and will probably need a new hot water heater in the next couple of years, too.
I’m glad I didn’t get a fixer-upper now. I can barely keep up with cleaning the 700 square feet I have now. Not to mention I’m still learning how to use power tools.
I am super grateful for this condo, and I love it. The comments about buying a house alone don’t bother me as much anymore. I love the freedom I have.
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