The majority of Millennials postpone buying their first home compared to previous generations; however, studies show that nearly all of us want to own instead of rent. Most of us also think our generation’s name should be changed to “Gen Debt”, which holds many of us back from putting up the cash necessary to become a homeowner.

However, if you’re starting to think buying a home is feasible (like we did this past year) then there’s some great local and national resources to help keep you sane and safe during the search.

1) Do Some Pre-Search

A screenshot of house listings in Milwaukee on RedFin. All screenshots and photos taken by Joe Powell.

Just as there are great search engines for rentals, there are also ones for buying. Even before we went to a bank or wanted to actively look at houses, we scrolled through listings on a daily basis on sites like RedFin (our favorite), Zillow, and Trulia. Each of these pulls from the MLS database (though sometimes with a couple hour delay), and have simple apps and notifications.

The goal was to get a feeling for the quality, prices, and availability of houses in certain parts of town we were considering. This helped to narrow down our search area and made us more knowledgeable of realistic prices for what we were looking for.

2) Get Educated

Buying a house can get complicated. There’s jargon and emotions and wainscoting confusing everything. That’s why we went to a free seminar for first time home buyers put on at a local UW Credit Union office (there’s one coming up on January 17). After an hour and a half, we left with a small informational packet and more frank and honest knowledge than we could’ve found trolling the Internet all weekend.

3) Get a Bank & Get Pre-Approved

This is an important step to take before starting your home buying search; you don’t want to find the house you love only to not have money to buy it. We ended up going with Ryan Boney and UW Credit Union after our free seminar from step #2 and have been extremely satisfied.

4) Get a Realtor

Fun fact: no home buyer should ever pay for a realtor. Realtors are paid by the sellers. So get one! There are a ton of great local realtors, but we definitely recommend Marie Grandelis and Shorewest Realtors. They were instrumental in finding us our home, and walking us through the actual home-buying process.

5) Find a Home

This is the most fun part: find your house! Go! Do it! Besides the sites listed in #1, the City of Milwaukee keeps their own list of city-owned houses for sale. Just try not to get blinded by the beauty of a giant stone kitchen island (thanks for talking us down from that ledge, Marie).

6) Make an Offer (or 2, or 6)

The housing market continues to be hot in Milwaukee, so be prepared to move fast and still possibly lose out on houses you wanted. Don’t worry, there’ll be more.

7) Close on the House, Pop Champagne

You did it! You bought a house! Congrats on having no money in the bank but lots of house to maintain.

In all seriousness, we love being homeowners. It was the right fit at the right time for us. Following just steps #1 and #2 above should help any prospective, first-time home buyer figure out if now’s the right time, and what the next move should be.

Us on the day we closed on our first house in Milwaukee.

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