Is it possible to buy your first home in a very expensive area with just one income? This Baltimore first time home buyer couple did it! Allison and Ephraim found out their rent was going up 30%, and they discovered it was over $10,000 cheaper to break their lease and buy their first home with only ONE of their incomes, and pay on $50 more a month in a mortgage. It helped a lot that Ephraim’s dad was a Realtor and that really helped them set up a unicorn team. But even if you’re not fortunate enough to be related to someone so highly-attuned to your market, you’re going to pick a lot of value from this episode. Tune in for a lot of incredible tips, tricks, and hacks, including how they used the podcast to help them!
Interview With A Baltimore Area First Time Home Buyer Couple – How They Did It
How To Buy A Home In An Expensive Area Using Only One Income
What do you do if you live in a city like Baltimore, and you find out your building got sold and your rent’s going to go up 30%? If you’re like these two, you figure out that breaking your lease will actually save you $10,000. You do that, you find a home to buy and your monthly payment is $50 more than the rent they were going to charge. Let’s hear this story.
This is an amazing interview. I’m going to give you some of the highlights right now. We’ve got newlyweds. We’ve got one income because he’s still in school. We’ve got people who end up paying only $50 more a month than what their rent was going to be. Guess what? Their rent’s going up 30%. It’s true. Breaking your lease is sometimes the right thing for you to do. There’s lots of great information in here talking about how they use the show to help them with credit, budgeting, and finding apps to help them figure out how to start their plan and then eventually get the place.
There’s also some really fun couple of stuff here, so you can see how it works to buy a home when one person’s researching like crazy and the other person has a dad who works in real estate. That was pretty interesting. Read thoroughly because there’s also a really good tip here on avoiding wire fraud. Let’s hear from Allison and Ephram.
Let’s get right to it. Introduce yourself to the world. Say hi to the homies. Who are you?
We are going to get to know you in a little bit, but people are here because, frankly, they are mad at you because you have a house and they don’t. Tell them what you guys did. Give us a little one of your tips and tricks, your best tip. I’m going to put the ending right up front. What are some of your best tips?
Our best tips are if you can get help from a relative to help give you a gift when you are going to buy a house, super awesome. Also, another big thing is making sure your DTIs are as low as possible. Save money.
That’s interesting you say that. First of all, anyone out there reading who doesn’t have a relative or anyone, I say this all the time on my Thanksgiving episode. I believe that you will probably have a better shot than people who have that luxury because you’ve been busting your butt all your life on your own. God bless you and you can still do this.
DTI. I heard the usual percentage is between 28 and 26 of how much your mortgage is. Not your debt to income, but last time it went up to like 34%. That means if you are using 34% of your paycheck and 25% on top of that goes to debt, you can’t afford very much a house. That was a good icebreaker. Hi, Allison and Ephram. Tell us about yourself. Where are you guys in the world that you don’t have to give us your address, but for other people who might be in your area?
We are located in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.
Who was the show’s reader, Ephram or Allison?
A hundred percent me. Lady with the brains. Makes everything happen.
Ephram, are you a believer now?
I have always been a believer. My dad was into real estate and things like that in Baltimore. I had a general understanding of the process we were going through. I had never sat down with him to go through the process. That was the first-time experience for me.
It means that dad knew everything. He knew a little.
I have been there. You guys should have heard my dad when I first told him I was doing a show. Tell us about your journey then. Ephram, if you had real estate in your blood, was this always a plan to buy a home?
For me, my dad got into the real estate game when I was in high school. Even before that, he drilled it into us to find some way to make passive income. For him, that was real estate investment properties and doing stuff like that. For me, one of the things I was looking for when we bought this home was when we moved, I would like to start our portfolio with the house we are in now. That was one of the thought processes for me when choosing a home. I want something that we can easily market to a renter in the area.
I tell people all the time, if your realtor at the very beginning is talking to you about trying to keep your house, then you know that person has your best interest at heart because they are giving away a sale in 5 to 7 years. I tell every first-time home buyer, “If you can.” If you start your planning like that, that’s so interesting. What were you guys doing as far as the saving side of stuff? Allison, you were out researching things.
Definitely through a Google search. I literally could find absolutely nothing until I came across your heavenly page, for sure. Our biggest thing with savings was that we got married a few years ago, so we are fairly newlyweds. It was like, “We need to save money.” My husband is also a student right now, so that was another thing where we are working on one income and it’s like, “How do we tackle this?” We are wasting money on rents and then you have expenses and on one income. How do you make that happen? The biggest thing for us that we did were savings was here’s our paycheck. We are putting this much away every single month. Cutting back on some of the great things like going on to eat Netflix, cable, and some of those extras for that short-term so it can make the long-term happen.Kudos to you guys. I have so many people that will put it off because of a wedding or school. This is great, though. I had an interview a little while ago with someone who got out of school and his partner was staying in grad school and he figured out how to do it on one income. Did you guys figure it out? Was it one income?
It ended up being one income and it’s like one of those things where you have to make sure the numbers work and if they don’t, sometimes you are better off waiting a little longer for us, and I’m sure we’ll get into that later. The biggest thing was that you stick to your numbers. If you don’t have the numbers, you can’t do it. Again, you a sacrifice a little bit now for the long-term.
[bctt tweet=”Stick to your numbers. If you don’t have the numbers, sacrifice a little bit now for the long term. ” via=”no”]
I know it’s hard, but I heard another stat now. Seventy-three percent of Americans have less than $1,000 saved. If you think it’s hard, bear in mind Allison and Ephram here are phenomenal people, but they figured out how to do it on one income. You have to tell yourself, “I’m part of 27% of the country.” Don’t think of yourself as the very bottom trying to figure this out. You are already there if you have more than $1,000. When did your process start?
The process started when the rental company that owned our apartment sold, and the new one came in and wanted to raise rent to 30%.
We wish it was a joke. It was a 1-bedroom and 1-bathroom.
I wish I could show shock. I have never heard that before.
We had even talked about buying a house after that lease was up, but at that point, it was cheaper for us to break the lease and buy a house than it was to stick with them and then buy a house after the lease was up.
We broke our lease six months into the year. We had to pay two months’ worth of rent upfront, but honestly, we saved ourselves over $10,000 in that six-month period.
Newlyweds, broke your lease, and one income. I’m getting you guys t-shirts. You can do this. That’s amazing. I’m so glad. I love doing these interviews because you back up everything that everyone’s situation is different. You never know, but for you, breaking your lease made way more sense. I always tell people, “You can’t think in your present-day mindset. You have to think big.” When that hit and you guys realize the big rental increase, those were all your changes. When did you get connected and how long between getting connected with a unicorn were you ready to get out and look at houses? How much financial time did you guys have to put together?
For us, because I had started like I hatched ideas a few months and before I even told my husband. I started reading your show on July 2022. Maybe a few months prior to that. I started saving money. I started thinking about, “We need to do this. Everything is going on in the world.” You hooked us up with our Baltimore unicorn in August. We were under contract by the 1st or 2nd week of October 2022. We were quick. That’s crazy, but it was a 5 to 6-month process of like, “We are going to do this. We are going to buy a home. We are going to make it work and we are going to figure it out.”
Our realtor was on vacation when we picked out our house. Our unicorn. We were like, “We are going to hold off and let you come back and then we’ll jump back into this.” Literally, the next day, we saw this house and we were like, “That’s the house we want.”
I was texting him. He was in Italy and I said, “We found a house.”
One of the hidden things I don’t talk about a lot about the unicorns is that they are great newer agents if they are trained well. The longer you’ve been around, the more people you know, the bigger staff you have or just friends. When I sold my own house, I didn’t have my team do it. I had another agent I knew that I have Taco Tuesdays with, and it’s like, “This guy is going to do it,” because you can’t have your own name on it when you do it. I’m sure he had plenty of people there able to help you out. Sold it from Italy. That’s awesome. How was the process for you? Early 2022 was rough. Were you guys in multiple bidding wars?
We got lucky. There were a couple of houses we had thought about putting a bid on and we decided not to. We put in about five over what they were asking for this place, and it ended up working out because they had a bid come in about three over asking, so we got our bid accepted.
I will say that we have had some other friends in the suburbs of Baltimore who would say a house would go on the market on Wednesday. Some realtors would get in first and then by Saturday, you put your offer in. You know by Monday if you got the house or not. We are thankful we didn’t get into a crazy bidding war, but a few of our friends had that experience.
Reading between the lines, in order to move that quickly, even with a great unicorn support team, you had to have your ducks in a row first so you could pounce if you wanted to.
[bctt tweet=”Even with a great unicorn support team, you had to have your ducks in a row first so you can pounce when you want to. ” via=”no”]
The prep work is so extreme and all of your episodes about credit, the little things, or the apps. I can’t remember the name of the one that I use. It was the budget one. It’s skipping my brain.
We tried out 2 or 3 bunches of apps.
There’s one that has initials that I always forget. I always call it PYT because it’s a song I like. It’s something your own something. It’s in the financial episodes. It’s probably episode 19 or 20. The first couple of the financial seven-episode series. I hear good things about that one. Some of them cost a little bit, more complex, and are basic. I tell people all the time, “Anybody can go into your own bank account online and say, ‘Withdraw $50 a month and put it here,’” and you can rename your savings account. Call it, “Don’t touch this for dumb stuff, stupid. This is for the house.” It’ll show up every time you pull it up on your phone. You were prepped and ready. You were ready to offer over and you wanted to on this one because you liked it. You called Thomas in Italy.
The way this worked was that he had one of his other associates. Great team. He showed us the property and said, “I like this one.” We were supposed to go see another house and we had to wait 2 or 3 days, and then I woke up in the middle of the night and I’m like, “I need this house.” I can’t believe about input I just knew. Sometimes he’ll let it sink in a little bit and I was like, “I want this house. We haven’t seen anything better. Absolutely stunning. We need this.” He looked at me, he’s like, “Are you sure?” I’m like, “Yes.” That was the biggest thing. We did put our offer in.
Even with that, we did a little bit over because they initially had a bid fall through because of financing and they were at ten over what was asking. We split the middle ground there to hopefully be above some people and be more likable as buyers. That’s where our feeling to overbid a little bit came from and it worked down.
That’s smart. I tell people all the time, “If you get any information, consider yourself lucky.” There are people that think, “They are going to tell me everything.” No, they are not.
Another thing, too, is when you do go to buy a house, it feels so terrifying. You’ve saved all of this money, cut back on all this stuff. My go phrase was, “I sneeze $500 here or there. Between fees.” Little things like that come into the whole buying process. I got to take that back a little because I have gotten so used to it. My biggest thing was I thought I could have a house that was at my highest end and then reality hit when we had numbers, and I said, “There’s a lot that goes into it.”
When you get the HUD or the summary of all of the costs, you are like, “I thought I could afford a house that was maybe $20,000 or $30,000 more.” I’m like, “I’m happy it stayed within that budget and didn’t go over.” You were looking for a monthly or for a down payment. I looked again, sticking to those numbers. That’s all I want to say.
There is a discipline to it. That’s why I dropped so many truth bombs on the show. It’s like, “We are going to get in.” First of all, you are going to stand naked and show me all your bank statements. I want everything in the world from you that’s going to be from the lender. You are going to feel like you are naked, and then I become the dream crusher. It’s like, “This is what I was getting. That’s why I stress so much to understand and realize the positives of the numbers because it’ll help keep you going.”
When you run into that $500 here and there, everyone’s asking for everything. That preparation helped you. What would you say were some of your biggest fears going into the process and we want to hear it all. Did they come true or were they something that was more of a myth and not a fear for you? Something that didn’t turn out to be as scary or what was scary and sucked?
We could tell you about the horrible nightmare we had the day before we went to close on our house. The bottom line being, it was not our unicorn team of our realtor, lender or title company. When you go to close on a house, sometimes you have to wire a down payment, and that’s a large sum of money. Sometimes if it’s over a certain amount, they’d prefer it to be wire versus a cashier’s check. You are getting all nervous already.
I’m going to take over because I’m the one who deals with this. The emotional trauma. I won’t name names, but we went to a bank and we told the bank. I gave them a paper with instructions for domestic and international wire transfers. I am not a banker. I don’t know what you need on forms. I think they need the routing number and the account number, and that’s good.
On the international wire section of this, there’s also an ABA number for an intermediary institution. They told me we need that number to send this to the right place. There isn’t an ABA number on the incoming domestic wire instructions. They used the ABA number for the international ins institution and sent the wire transfer to the wrong place. It’s now 24 hours before closing. The bank doesn’t have our money. If we don’t have it, we’d lose the deal.
It got a little more complicated there, too, because we are here in California. Long story short, they sent the money to a bank in California.
The bank was awesome. They got the money.
Hold on. We are back the next morning at 9:00 AM like, “It’s been 24 hours. You all get the money.” The title comes like, “No, we did not. What’s going on?” They start calling and scanning through all their bank numbers and I say, “I’m going to call the bank.” The bank told us to call the 1-800 number to get our wire taken care of. Not to go in person. My husband went anyway in person, but they are like, “There’s nothing we can do for you and it can take up to 90 days to get your wire transferred out.”
That’s if you get it back at all.
The good news is that the money was sent back to our account at around 12:00 Eastern Standard Time. We hadn’t known yet, but up the creek without a paddle, and I’m at work.
I’m skipping classes on the phone with these people.
I work in taking care of patients, and I’m like, “I’m not going to cry in between.”
The intermediary institution did their job. They were like, “Where the heck is this money supposed to go and why did they come to us in the first place?” They sent it back.
Our biggest takeaway for that is if you can and your lender will allow to always check with them. If you can get a cashier’s check and have it in your hot little hand and give it to them when you are closing, I highly recommend it. It’s something where it’s like if you put one wrong number and then your money could be gone. Sometimes they can get it back, but that was our biggest lesson.
That was the biggest roller coaster during this buying process.
I don’t think I have ever had that much money that I gave to somebody and I’m like, “It’s gone.”
Let me jump in and get some bullet point lessons here, then. You were wiring the money from your account at a large bank institution. You went to the bank institution two days before to do the wire. I have had this happen before. One of the biggest things I see people do, especially now and I’m not saying you did this at all, but things move so fast that you assume that certain things are going to go quickly, especially now that we can do everything on our phone. One of the things that I tell people is if you know a wire’s coming. This is way over the top. I’m not saying it was anyone’s fault for not telling you this, but I have had people go into the bank a couple of days earlier and ask for a manager, make sure you have half an hour because you are going to sit there and wait.
It’s to prep for that. To go in and talk to somebody and say, “I’m going to wire a giant amount of money.” I have never done that before. What’s the process for that? Then have the manager tell you what it is. Sign it and make sure the manager’s name’s there so if they are not there the next day. You go in and when you are talking to banker number four, who got transferred there and only did these every once in a while.
Thank goodness you had the right people. That’s another thing. You have the right team helping you follow it up with your unicorn team, title companies, and lenders. Since you are working with good people, you are not on a 1-800 number to them. They are going to be able to get back to you. That’s crazy. I’m glad. How do you guys like the house? You are in it.
We love it.
We have cats. We love it. It took us about a month. You buy a house, but then you make it a home. It’s been absolutely great. I have never lived in a bigger house in my life, so it’s nice that we have our own space. I can yell to my husband, “Can you hear me,” and he can’t hear me. I’m sure it’s like music to his ears that he can’t hear me.
The weird, funny thing about the house is it’s so old that it’s got a little intercom system in it. I had never seen an intercom system in a house and they have one in the middle of the upstairs hallway so she can push the button and talk to me while I’m doing the dishes.
Does it work?
Where I grew up, believe it or not, here in Southern California, most of this was built up post-World War II, ‘50s and ‘60s. A bunch of them. Any two-story has one. All my friends growing up, not one of them worked because they were 50 years old or something. That’s cool.
That’s interesting. That’s one of the little quirks in the house that we were like, “That’s cool.”
How did it go? I know you guys said your rent was going up crazy. Was there a big difference between your rent and your current monthly payment now? Something you are adjusting to.
With the increase, maybe with our mortgage, we are paying $50 more a month.
Get out of town.
It is. I think our biggest thing is that we saved and had a little bit larger of a down payment, but the biggest thing for us was that we wanted something that made sense and we could stick to.
Larger, like 60% down?
No. About 15%.
Fifty percent down and you are only paying $50 more.
We had to pay a point upfront because we were supposed to be locked in at 5.5%, and it jumped up to 5.75%.
This is right before the big Federal hike came, but in the long run, you sneeze a few thousand dollars from little menial things like that. I know it’s not ridiculous.
It’s true. What’s crazy is everybody, when the rates jumped from 3.5% to 5%, called me and said, “That’s it. I’m out. I can’t do it.” It then went to 7% and they are like, “No way.” You guys, you didn’t downgrade neighborhoods. You are not living in the slums. You went from an apartment to a comparable place, except now you own it and it’s $50 more and you are at 5.5%-ish interest rate.
Around October 20th, 2022, I know things went up. I have a few other friends that are like, “Do we do it now? Do we not?” I said, “Go listen to David Sidoni of How to Buy a Home. I don’t want to answer your questions.”
It’s coming. You are going to read all my new episodes. The rates will probably get close down to where you guys are right now.
I’m so happy for people.
It has to and it’s going to base on economic factors that we saw. What’s amazing is that people are saying, “I’m never going to get it where it’s close to my rent,” because all those who did that got their interest rates at 3%. My takeaway from your story is you guys did it at 5.5%. I say this not because it’s awesome that you save 15%. You didn’t put 50% down to have the same price. You did a regular roll-down payment. That’s incredible. Any other tips or any other surprises besides the holy hell of the wire issue?
Another big thing is inspection. You talk about this all the time. Do not wave your inspection. Take the time. When you have an inspection company, they sometimes have add-ons like molds or pipes. Scoping the pipes. Huge ones.
Did you do that?
Yes. We were willing to walk away when they tried to tell us no.
I have been doing this for many years. That wasn’t part of what I did. In the beginning, it wasn’t offered. It was a bazillion dollars extra. I had a client that bought a house and five months later, their whole front yard sunk in. I get nuts and people say, “The inspection is $600, but I found another guy that’ll do it for $475.” Pay for the inspector and pay for the sewer. I totally agree.
For us, with my real estate background, my dad had a property that had issues with the pipes. When they came back and they were like, “We are not going to scope the pipes.” I was looking at my wife and I was like, “That is a $10,000 fix potentially if we are the ones who have to do it.” I’m not willing to pay that on top of buying a house.
When you could pay maybe $500 to get it scoped and find out what you are getting into.
Just to be safe.
I say it on the show. This is like, “That was my phone. Who wants to say hello? I thought I put you on do not disturb.” That’s like when the kids come home and tell me how brilliant their teacher is and they say something back to me that I have said to them 5,000 times. At least you said it about the inspection and now all my readers will go, “All of you homies out there. You heard it from people who did it.” Good job. Congratulations.
Now that you are in, these are wonderful, amazing tips. This is part of the reason why people read these interviews, but let’s get into it. Your mindset was potentially with the real estate background. Your mindset was potentially, “This is a great house. We like it.” How long were you guys thinking about living here? Considering the fact that someone in the back of your mind you were thinking, “This could be the building block to our financial future if we keep it and rent it out?”
I am from Texas and I will get back to Texas. I have been slowly wearing my wife down to move back to Texas with still being in school and having kids in a few years. I’m looking at an Information Systems Computer degree and it happens to be that this is the area for it. All that stuff is factoring in as we are talking about how long we will live here. Right now, it’s probably looking at 5 to 7 years, which is a fairly decent amount of time. It could be as much as ten years. I’m hoping that it’s not that long, personally, but it was going to be an investment in time in this area before we would ever see it as a rental property if we do.
It becomes equity. It takes some years for that to happen. If I was still renting, I literally could flare up. I rented for three years between the time before I met my husband. We got married and lived there for a year. If I had to take a guess, $65,000 from the time I moved out on my own, it’s wasted. Maybe you are out of college. You don’t want to buy a house as soon as you graduate. It’s totally understandable. If we even cut that in half, that’s still $40,000 that was gone. We never going to see it again.
That’s why I put the blinders on and say, “No way.” We own it. It’s ours. To happen on your own and that’s to everybody that you have thrown away like you are putting it into something. It’s super important because if something happens or you want to buy another home someday, your house will hopefully appreciate and have value and you can use it towards it. If you keep it in a renter portfolio, that’s passive income that you will add to it. There are many different options. I’m still trying to figure it out.
I say it every time. I get people on here with their real-life stories and it’s smarter and better than anything that I could say. Here are some of the things that I heard that are amazing. If you are a young college student, don’t be like Allison and me, who spent $68,000 or $104,000, which was 1990s dollars. That’s probably $300,000 now. The biggest thing I hear people say is, “I don’t want to do it because what if I’m going to move when I’m 24 or 25? What if I find this awesome dude who comes and sweeps me off my feet and will listen to me when I tell him all these things all the time, screaming from across the house that we have someday.”
If that particular thing, then great. If you are reading that now and you are 21 or 22 years old, learn what they are saying. Even in a 5 or 7-year plan or a 2 or 3-year plan, there’s always the backup of keeping it as a rental and then you are not throwing money away. Especially when you figure that the rent is close to the mortgage and if that rent is going to be the same price in your area, you guys scored.
I love to hear that you said it’s a 5 to 7-year plan where the market’s going right now. Truth bomb, everybody. 2 to 3-year plans to sell, not the best idea right now. You are going to be looking at at least a 5 to 7-year hold. When those Texas dreams come a calling, you might be where I would have been. If I’d bought a house at 21, at 28, I would have been about breakeven on the sales price, but I would have put all that money into principal and not been paying it to a landlord. I could then have rented it out and gone and lived out my dream, which was not Texas. I love you, but I was going someplace else.
[bctt tweet=”Two to three year plans to sell – not the best idea right now. You’re going to be looking at a five to seven year hold, at least.” via=”no”]
This 5 to 7-year plan is perfect for you. I was curious because having that real estate background and having the idea that a portfolio because you are a homeowner, you now have options. In 5 to 7 years, you can use this as the piece of your puzzle or you can use this as a down payment towards the forever home and then you can dig into those 2nds, 3rds, and whatever else that you want to do, but you never have those options if you didn’t start buying in the first place. That’s amazing. Good luck with school with degrees and stuff and remote. You are probably going to be able to move wherever you want to in 5 to 7 years.
I hope so.
That’s very exciting and I’m so glad that you guys found us. I love that unicorn team we have got up there in Baltimore. That’s so exciting they were able to help you guys out. Any parting words for all our readers? I think you have given us everything, although I’m sure we could do another hour if you wanted to.
My biggest advice is don’t be afraid. Take your time, but not too much time. Listen to David Sidoni of what he has to say. Read all of the episodes. Do it while you are driving or cooking. You have the time. Don’t wait. You got this.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t be afraid. Take your time, but not too much time.” via=”no”]
Don’t be afraid to walk away. Sometimes we find that house that it’s like, “We want it and it fits us perfectly,” but if it makes you compromise on something, do not be afraid to walk away because there will always be another house.
The reason people are not confident is because they are not knowledgeable. That’s not your fault. Ignorant is not a bad word. Allison, I’m so glad. I don’t know if we were best friends while you were washing dishes, walking the cats, or driving to work if I was your commute buddy. The more information you get from a source you trust, the easier it is for you to walk away from something because you feel like you have knowledge because you are not making choices based on fear. You are making choices based on fact, and like Allison even said. “Don’t get analysis paralysis. Get into it. Get going.” When it’s time to make the move, it’s going to be time for the buyer. This is great. Thank you so much. I appreciate it and enjoy your home in Baltimore.
Thank you so much.
I love these interviews because there is so much I could say because so much was said in that interview. Instead of me talking about it, go back and read it. Please, if you got other renters out there who are finding out that their rents will be going up, this is the year the first-time buyer shares this show. Write a review on Apple. You can also write a review on Spotify. All you have to do is read one episode and write a review right afterwards. It’s helpful to keep the revolution going so we can help other people who can find out that they can buy a home for only $50 more than their rent.
I know we had a little break here, but we’ve got some exciting things coming in. No matter where you are in the process, there is plenty of stuff in the back catalog that I’m sure pertains to where you are now. Maybe you listen to some of the financial stuff early and now it’s time to go back and read some of the nitty-gritty. Share the show. Talk about it on Reddit, Facebook, and other social media. Good luck to everyone and I’m so excited for the next year, the year the first-time homebuyer. You can do this.