New Job, New Husband, New Home And New Baby On The Way

Josh and Lindsay Badger, Home Creations new home

Josh and Lindsay Badger in front of their new home

In the last two years, Lindsay Badger started a new job as a graphic designer at Home Creations, got married, built her first new home and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first baby, Abby LeAnn, on Aug. 30. Wow, she’s been a very busy girl.

Recently, she and her husband, Josh, sat still long enough to share their personal account of what is was like building and buying their first home in Norman, Okla., home of the Oklahoma Sooners, a team Josh happens to like just a little bit.

What was it that finally convinced you to jump into homeownership?
We needed more room! At the time we were renting a house that we shared with my brother. It was great for the three of us, but when we found out that Josh and I were going to be new parents, we knew that we’d have to get a place of our own. Josh is the one that convinced me to start looking to buy. Renting a home costs just as much as a mortgage payment every month, and we’d be saving tons on utilities in a new home. It was the smarter choice.
Josh: The $8000 tax credit, 10% employee discount and low interest rates.

Describe your emotions prior to writing the contract – excitement, fear, nervousness, exhilaration.
Complete fear! I thought we were both crazy for actually thinking we could afford to do this. I didn’t think we’d qualify for the loan based on just my income. I remember telling Josh that I didn’t want to start looking at homes until we got pre-qualified. I didn’t want to get our hopes up. We called Sam Bursch with Cornerstone Home Lending; he ran the numbers and, to my surprise, not only did we get qualified but we could actually get a nice new Home Creations home! We were both SO excited, and my fears had vanished. Now about that down payment…
Josh: Mostly exciting.

Your home is finished now, and you’ve moved in. Is there anything you wish you had known up front prior to writing your contract?
For the most part, I knew what we were getting ourselves into. There is nothing like going through the process first hand to get the full experience, but I think what I’ve learned from working at Home Creations the last two years really helped keep the surprises to a minimum. I know that Josh had a lot of questions that I was able to answer myself that I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer otherwise. If I didn’t know the answer, I knew who to ask.

Most confusing part of the entire process?
The closing itself is probably the most confusing. There is a lot of paperwork! Even though they explain everything to you page by page, your eyes start to glaze over at about page 30 and that’s if you have a good attention span.
Josh: The contract and how it all works.

Did you ever think that you could afford a new home as your first home?
Absolutely not – at least not at that time. I thought our lender was going to laugh at us for thinking we could afford a new home. I knew we both had good credit, but they look at your debt-to-income ratio too. I thought that would be what was going to hold us back since they could only use my income. We ended up qualifying for more than what we ended up buying. That was great news.
Josh: Not originally until I started talking with the lender.

How much more is your house payment than rent?
Our rent was $850/month at the house we shared with my brother, and our first mortgage payment was $925. That’s only a difference of $75! Josh and I were okay with paying slightly more per month because we knew our savings in utilities would balance out to be about the same.

How much more are your new home utilities vs. rent home utilities?
Oh my goodness! It is a night and day difference. We were renting a 3 bed / 2 bath house that was built in the early 1970’s – roughly 1,350 sq ft. It cost us about $10/day to run the AC during the summer. That’s $300 a month! No joke. It cost about the same to run the heater during the winter months. I could see light around every door, you can feel the wind around the edges of the windows, and the AC unit wasn’t the right size for the house so it would get over worked and freeze up sometimes. I loved our rental house but hated the utility bills that came with it. Josh and I moved into our brand new 1,530 sq. ft. 3 bed /2 bath house at the end of May. When we paid our first round of bills, and, even with some of the utility deposits included, it was still cheaper than the rental house. I didn’t have to worry about having the AC running all day or how long my showers were. It a great relief to finally just live in our house and not fret about how much it is going to cost us.

What misconceptions about the home-buying experience did you have going into the process?
I have heard nightmare stories about building a new home from different people. My grandfather said he built a new home once and that he’d never do it again. I thought it would be a lot more complicated and stressful. If we had used a smaller builder some of these nightmares may have come true. Home Creations builds hundreds of homes for hundreds of families every year. A builder with that kind of experience is one you can trust to get the job done right and in a timely manner. For me, the most difficult part of the whole home buying process is taking the giant leap and making the decision to buy. After that, it’s not that scary. Actually, it’s kind of fun! You call the shots. What city do you want to live in? Pick your lot, your floor plan. Where do you want your cable & phone outlets to go? Pick your paint colors, brick, tile, carpet, countertops, backsplash, hardware, lighting, appliances, etc. Once all the decisions have been made, sit back and enjoy the show and watch your beautiful masterpiece come to life from the ground up.

What was the best part about the construction process?
I loved driving by everyday and seeing what new things had been done on our house. Josh was working a lot of extra hours, so I would take tons of pictures and show him the progress when he got home at night. We loved watching everything come together and couldn’t wait until we could actually move in and make this new house a home. Our builder, Ryan, or his assistant, Noble, were always quick to answer questions. Another cool thing that I liked was that I got a hands-on look of how my company builds their homes step-by-step. I may never have had the chance to experience this otherwise. Working in Home Creations main office, I get to see a lot of the “behind the scenes” magic that makes this company work, but I miss out on what goes on outside within the communities. I’ve visited the sales team at their show homes, and I have a general idea of how the sales department works and coordinates with the main office, but the construction side had always been a mystery to me. I’ve never had a reason to be involved with that part of the company until it was time to build my house.
Josh: Getting to see our house in every stage of its construction

What’s the best thing about having a place to call your very own?
It’s ours. It’s there isn’t anything better than that. You don’t have anyone’s approval to paint your walls, have pets, plant a garden or mount a TV on your wall. You just do it and enjoy without worrying if you’re going to get your deposit back when you move. You don’t have noisy neighbors living above, below or sharing an adjacent wall with you. It’s just you and your own noise. After spending years living in dorms and renting apartments and houses, this is a very welcome change. Your own space in your own place.
Josh: It’s great. I love my house.

Advice you have for anyone considering buying a home – whether new or used?
Start saving now!! If I could go back in time and change one thing, I would have had our savings built up a lot more before taking the plunge. I was so excited that we had found our new home, but I didn’t know how we were going to come up with the money for the down payment in just a few short months. Josh worked his butt off waiting tables, and every penny that he made went into savings, and we used my income for food and bills. We cut off the cable, cut back on eating out, turned off the AC and opened the windows (thank goodness it was spring). We did everything we could think of to squeeze every extra penny into savings. It was stressful, but we had our down payment on closing day without asking for gifts from family. It was such a great feeling once we had reached our goal. We even had some extra left over to help pay for utility deposits.
Josh: Do some research.

Any other comments?
If you want to stop renting and start owning, don’t under estimate yourself. Get with a lender and see what you can pre-qualify for – even if you think they will laugh at you for trying. If you’re not ready to take the giant leap right now, you will at least know where you stand, and they can help you get on track to get financially ready for the new home of your dreams.

To Lindsay and Josh, we send you best wishes in your new place as you bring a new life home there very soon.