A first-time homebuyer in Portland’s guide to buying a home. For the first time. In Portland.

Somehow I made it through the marathon that is buying a house. Here’s how:

Step 1: Understand the market. 

If you’ve spoken to anyone around here, they will inevitably start to kvetch about how the city has changed (myself included). Without spending time yelling at those darn kids to get off my lawn or bemoaning how my favorite band used to be good until they got popular and totally sold out, I’ll sum it up for you: its competitive. Homes here sometimes go for as much as $50k over asking price and there may be 10 offers you’re competing against, some in cash (thanks, California). That said, its not impossible for a normal person to buy a house in Portland. In fact, buying a house here can be a better financial decision than renting, for some. Case in point, the two-bedroom apartments immediately next door to the house I bought go for $1500/mo. My mortgage is way lower than that.

Step 2: Figure out your budget.

You should get a pre-approval letter before you even start looking so you’re ready to pounce if you find the right place. This took months, so plan accordingly. This is the point where you have to try to explain your random work history and hope its not a deal breaker. You’ll walk away with a better idea of what you can really afford. Sorry, its probably less than you thought.

Step 3: Find a realtor.

We went with Redfin and had a great experience since we were able to schedule same-day showings online and keep track of everything all in one place. Make sure you trust whoever you choose to look out for your interests. In our case, we came to our realtor wanting to overbid our house by quite a bit. He took everything into consideration, reeled us in, and we still got the house at very close to asking price.

Step 4: Look at so many houses that you start to forget why you wanted to buy a house in the first place and plunge into existential ennui.

Its tough out there, you guys. You’ll look at some houses that will just confuse you. How is this even legally habitable? Why did someone decide to combine the bathroom and kitchen into one big unsanitary mega-space? You’ll fall in love with other houses but know that they’ll get bid up too high, ending in heartbreak. You’ll see a lot of places that just make you go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Hang in there. Have a drink.

Step 5: Forget about finding your Barbie Dream House .

By now you’ve lost all hope and then, only then, you’ll find “the one”. Text your realtor and call your mom.

Step 6: Plunge into paperwork, contracts, repairs, and appraisals.

I should say drown in them.

Step 7: Kick out squatters.

The repairs have been made and the papers signed. Now all you need to do is kick out the squatter who has moved into your garage while the house was empty.

Step 8: Success!

Keys in hand, bask in the glory that is your new home (and the depletion of your life savings).

Any questions?

cover image credit


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