Rob: Home Sweet Hubbell
Meet my friend Rob. He's a suburban guy who blew everyone's minds by buying a house in South Buffalo. His process wasn't easy - from start to finish, it took him nearly a year to move into a new home. But now his control-freak self gets to manage all the details on his cute little house in the city. Read on for all the details!
What made you decide to buy a house?
I had been renting in Kenmore. One day out of the clear blue, the landlady came up to me with a piece of paper and said "I need you out by next month."
I started looking into buying a house and found out how much money you need to put down and I thought, "well how am I gonna come up with that?" So during this time I had to move out and back in with my parents. While I was living with them, I started saving using a first-time home-buyers program with M&T.
You are originally from Grand Island, and were renting in Kenmore before you bought the house. What prompted you to buy in South Buffalo?
I actually had originally put in an offer on a house in the town of Kenmore, but the deal fell through. I was willing to look anywhere in the Western New York area. Having grown up in the suburbs where your neighbors might be 300 feet away, the idea of being closer to stuff was appealing. I was really looking more for the house than one specific area so I really fell in love with the layout of this house and saw the potential in it, and it happened to be in South Buffalo.
Another huge factor was the taxes. The mortgage on this house was $200 less per month than a less expensive house Kenmore. I was able to buy a house where I’d be able to have my money go farther.
Tell me about the house-hunting process. How long did it take you and what challenges did you face?
For me, house hunting was not a fun experience. It was kind of a struggle. I started shopping during the summer months - I started in June and didn’t close until April of the following year because of the issues with the first house falling through. I didn’t move in until Memorial day of 2017.
I really wanted to make the move but it’s a huge decision, the biggest purchase most people will ever make. Finding the one that was the right fit for me was more important than finding the one quickly.
How did you choose this house?
It had all of the things I was looking for... two bathrooms, a basement, a detached garage, and a fireplace. Two of the big attractive factors were the driveway which had been recently re-poured, the kitchen, which was recently remodeled, and an enclosed porch in the front that had been converted to a huge bathroom.
Can you talk a little about how you financed the house?
I did the first time home-buyer’s program through M&T bank. There was a maximum income requirement that I eked in under. You save a total of $1500 over the course of 10-24 months, and at the end of that program you apply for a loan through M&T. M&T gives you $7500 toward paying your closing costs and down payment in the form of a lien that's on the house for a duration of 5 years, coming off at a rate of $1500 per year. At the end of that it’s free and clear.
What kinds of renovations and repairs did you have to do?
The first thing I did was paint. Every surface of the interior of the house was painted. Every ceiling, every wall. There was also some damage to the plaster in the hallways and closet, and a large crack in the middle bedroom ceiling, all of which I had repaired. Then, I thought I saw an issue with the bathroom upstairs and had a guy come in to talk about the flooring. That turned into new flooring for the rest of the house, which put me over budget - but it’s not something I regret. I tore up the carpet myself from the bedrooms, the hallway and stairs and downstairs, and had the hardwood refinished in two bedrooms upstairs and the downstairs. It’s got the original oak downstairs and original pine upstairs, which I think looks phenomenal and way better than the carpet that was there.
The front hallway had a faux brick vinyl tile that was particularly horrendous and the side hallway had this sort of yellow sunflower laminate that was additionally yellowed from age - probably 1960s - and that was equally heinous. So I tore out the vinyl tile in the hall with a heat gun and floor scraper. That was both very satisfying and a big pain in the ass.
What is the number one thing you wish you had known before you started the home-buying process?
The extent to which you have to compromise. No matter how much you want to stay in your budget you’re going to blow up your budget. When you first move in that’s kind of when you have your maximum energy for doing stuff, and everything is more expensive than you think it will be.
What is the best part of owning your own home?
This is indicative of my type-A personality, but I really like the control - over what it looks like, the neatness, customization. I get to pick the paint, keep my lawn the way I like it. The calling-the-shots factor is great for someone like me.
What advice do you have for first-time home-buyers?
Be patient - but don’t be a pushover.