Ep 217 – Interview With Millie – How To Buy Your First Home Before Turning 30 

 March 4, 2024

How to Buy a Home | First Home

Discover the secrets to buying your first home before hitting 30 in this episode, as Millie joins David Sidoni to share her invaluable tips. Reflecting on the consistent increase in home prices over the years, they emphasize that now is the opportune moment to embark on this journey. Millie’s success story unfolds as she navigates the real estate landscape with the guidance of a badass unicorn realtor and lender, making a low down payment using her 401K. Tune in to learn about Millie’s Rent Replacement Strategy, a game-changer in achieving your homeownership dreams. Don’t miss out – join Millie and David for a wealth of insights that could shape your own success story!

Interview With Millie – How To Buy Your First Home Before Turning 30

This is the story of Millie and Ben who were living in a 550-square-foot studio apartment in the city that they loved. After COVID, they realized that they couldn’t stay in that little place anymore, so they moved out of the city that they loved and started planning to buy a home. You got to know the numbers because a couple of years later, they found the show and then found the unicorns. They realized that they could purchase this home for $435,000 with only $17,000 down.

The next thing you know, they’re back in the town that they love. They did the math and realized, “For the past four years we spent $70,000 in rent. For only $17,000, we have a beautiful double-the-size of where we live now, a 3-bedroom home, and we’re going to be gaining equity and living the good life moving forward.” Check out this interview.

This is my favorite part of doing the show. It’s the success stories. I’ve got Millie and Ben, but Ben works nights and is sleeping, so Millie’s going to give us the whole rundown. They purchased it back in August. Was it that long ago? When did you buy it?

It was August of 2023.

That’s awesome. Since they’re all settled, we’re going to get some tips and insights for you guys. Millie, say hello to the homies. The homies are really nice people, but they want to know what the heck you did. Go ahead and give them the best tip that you learned as someone who succeeded through this process.

I have a few things that I jotted down for this. Through tuning in to your show, I learned that unlike what all of our friends have been saying, there’s no housing market crash that’s coming, and then also, people trying to time the market. A lot of people our age are interested in buying a house. We’re in our late 20s and early 30s. People are trying to buy at the bottom of the market and things like that.

After reading about everything that you had said, we were like, “This doesn’t sound like a good idea to  keep throwing away money renting.” We’re going to try to get in the game and know that we’re going to buy somewhere along that mountain, not at the top, not at the bottom, but probably somewhere along the middle. The biggest thing was feeling comfortable using our 401(k)s to make that down payment because otherwise, I don’t think we would’ve been able to do it. Getting some information about that from you was super helpful.

That’s great. My video guy sent me a TikTok where there was someone talking about Gen Z, which you’re probably a Millennial.

Barely. ‘95.

Talking about how the Boomers telling them, “You’re lazy,” and the Gen Zs are like, “It’s harder now. There is an expense.” You were talking about so many different things there. That’s awesome. It takes a while for people to understand it. Number one, you’re never going to time the market and buy at the bottom. There is no crash coming. You might have to think about using your 401(k) and whatever. It’s not going to be like it was many years ago. Tell us your story. First of all, if the people out there want to know, what part of the country did you end up in? You’re in Oregon, right?

Yeah. We’re in Oregon. Our house is in a city called Forest Grove. We have lived here before. We rented our first apartment here together in 2019, so it’s the same city. We moved after two years or so in that apartment because it was a 550-square-foot studio apartment that we survived lockdown, COVID, and everything.

You got the post-COVID itchies and had to get some space?

Yeah. We were like, “We’re not ready to buy a house now.” We wanted to even. In 2021, at the end, is when we moved, but we didn’t have the knowledge or think that we would’ve been ready at that time. We needed some space, so we moved to Beaverton, which is not far from Forest Grove. It is a little further from work for both of us, but we moved there because we could afford a slightly bigger apartment there with an actual bedroom instead of a studio. We moved out there, but we always had planned on coming back here. I ended up finding your show this summer and decided that we needed to make the move. That’s what happened.

You found the show in the summer of 2023, but you closed on August 21st, 2023. It went fast.

I don’t know when summer technically starts, but I found the show mid to late June 2023.

That’s still quick.

I found it mid to late June 2023 and then we closed on August 21st, 2023. It was much faster than I had expected.

That’s good. I’m glad that you took advantage of that because sometimes, people will start tuning in and they’ll take six months before they buy. I keep telling everyone, “It looks like prices are going up. The sooner you’re in, you’re better.” What was the price of the home that you closed on?

Prices are going up. The sooner you buy a home, the better.

It was listed at $430,000. We offered $435,000, but we asked for $5,000 in closing costs from the seller. It looked like a decent offer, and they accepted that offer.

That’s a really good tip for everybody. You gave them a net of their full price, but you got the $5,000. If you were pulling from your 401(k), all your closing costs and your down payment were stretching where you were with your savings. That $5,000 probably helped a lot.

We had conversations with Brian, our realtor, about how we didn’t know exactly how much we were going to need to put down with the down payment and the closing costs. We knew that whatever it was, it most likely was going to be a stretch to get what we wanted in a home with where prices were at in the houses that we were interested in. Keeping some money in our pocket and maybe paying a slightly higher monthly payment sounded like that was going to be more beneficial to us, so he came up with that idea for us.

We have to love the unicorns. Brian’s a great one. He is really bright.

He is very experienced and bright. He really helped us through the whole process and answered all our questions. Learning from the show, too, that we’re not paying for our realtor, so why not have the best realtor that you get?

How to Buy a Home | First Home
First Home: We’re not paying for our realtor, so why not have the best realtor that you can get?

I came from a conference. With the people that I work with all over the country, we go and visit these different seminars. I was talking to one of my good unicorns. She was talking about how she ended up doing the same thing, getting a credit back for one of my audience. She’s in Salt Lake City. I’m going to go to AI and make a badass unicorn with a spiked collar and a mohawk. I have all these unicorns all over my office, but they’re all fluffy and stuff. She’s like, “I negotiated my butt off for those people.” I was like, “We’re badass unicorns.”

You guys are.

That experience is really helpful to understand. Look at all the variables you’re dealing with there. You’re having questions about timing. You are coming back home. You took the advice of the show to get off your but and move. Yet, all these things feel like, “I have to do this, that, and the other.” The beautiful ending of the story is you didn’t compromise. You picked the city and got the city you wanted.

Exactly. It was pretty crazy because the house was listed on a Thursday morning. We had it set up where we would get notifications from Brian’s MLS when a house came up within our parameters. I got that email. I looked at it on Zillow, because Zillow’s more user-friendly after I got the email. I looked at it on Zillow and then texted Brian. I was headed to work, but I texted him and told him we were interested in the house. Without talking to Ben, I made the decision that we needed to look at this house.

I texted him and he set up a viewing for us that evening after work. I was on my way home from work. Ben was headed to work, but we were able to meet up with Brian at the house. We looked at it and it really was perfect. We looked at it that night. I told Ben I wanted to put an offer in on it and he was like, “I don’t know.” It’s the first house that we looked at. He was hesitant because we hadn’t looked at anything else. I was like, “It’s perfect. It’s exactly what we want. It’s in the neighborhood that we want. It has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. It’s a free-standing house. What else could we ask for?” I got him to agree to make the offer. I made the offer the next day and then went from there.

A couple of good tips came out of that. It’s okay to write an offer on the first house. I will put the caveat in that you knew the area. You had lived there. I’m sure that the location had a big part to do with that, right?

Absolutely. This is the location that we wanted. We know that you can change a lot about a house, but you can’t change where it is. We got to get the right location.

You can change a lot about a house, but you can’t change where it is, so get the right location.

Write it down. Put it in your brain. They say location for a reason. On Thursday night, there’s something very smart about that. The fact that your unicorn was able to get there. Another little homie tip for people, it is true. Get your notifications from the realtors because they come from the MLS as fast as possible because that’s the realtor-to-realtor connection. Then, go ahead and look on Zillow and someplace else because the MLS is janky. I love it. I’ve got graveyard people, too, all the time. We have overnight people. We do that 1 coming home from work and 1 going to work. By doing that Thursday night, you got your offer in before open houses happened. You snaked it.

Our offer went in on Friday, and then we put it to expire on Saturday at 5:30, 5:00, or whatever it was. They didn’t initially accept it. They wanted to have their open houses. They said they liked the offer, but they wanted to have their open houses because it had gone on the market. They didn’t expect to have an offer the next day, which is understandable. It’s a smaller city. Interest rates are high. Maybe they didn’t expect it to go. We were like, “Okay.” Ben and I were a little bummed about it, but we knew that it was still possible that the offer could be accepted.

We told Brian we wanted to look at a house. We found a couple of other houses the next day. This is Saturday. On Saturday evening, Brian texted us saying that they decided to accept our offer because he had mentioned to their realtor that he was going to take us to look at some other houses. Maybe they got nervous or what have you. They ended up accepting the offer that evening. We did go look at a house the next day, but I was pretty sure that this was the one that we were going to go for.

There is something to be said about experience. I talked to you guys about the unicorns and how important it is, but having a unicorn or someone on the unicorn team who has been through the entire gamut. We understand what the listing agent is thinking too because we’ve been on that side as well. I would immediately think, “This guy’s going to want it. If he’s any good or she’s any good, they’re going to want to show the house Saturday or Sunday even though we’re full price. If we came in $50,000 over and waived the appraisal, great.”

It is knowing that and then also realizing with you guys, “We love and appreciate your trust. Thank you very much, but I’ll show you some other homes on Saturday. I’ll make sure that you’re really comfortable with it.” Talk to us about some nitty-gritty stuff. I know you were in your studio apartment or your other apartment a little further out. What was the change in monthly payment for you guys?

It was quite a jump. Our rent at the time was $1,500 or $1,600, somewhere around there. It was very doable for us, but we felt like we were throwing away money because we were renting. It’s not going to anything. I calculated. I was curious how much money we had spent renting in the four or so years that we had been renting together. It was close to $70,000 between the 2 of us. I was like, “We’ve got to not do this anymore.” Thinking about it, if you had that cash in your pocket and put that down on a house, that could have been huge. We were also trying to scrape it up from our 401(k)s. That’s in the past. We can only move forward.

That is a very important fact. I would think if I met you out in the real world that you’re in your early twenties, but you intimated that you’re not.

I’m 28. My boyfriend, Ben, is 30. We were 27 and 29 when we started the process. We both have had a birthday since then.

My gift to the people is I hope that there is a Millie and Ben out there who are 24 and 26 and reading because we gave them $70,000.

If I can do that for anybody, then that’s exactly why I would want to do this. Our mortgage is about $3,300. That’s a jump, for sure. We started to try to make practice payments somewhere in July 2023 by putting that. I didn’t know what our mortgage was going to be, but I guesstimated $3,000, so it’s a little higher than that. We would put whatever we were going to be responsible for, like paying for that mortgage into our savings and then paying our bills on the rest of it. That did help a little bit. We saved for a little bit. It was a pretty fast turnaround from when we started the process to when we purchased the home, but we did do that to make ourselves feel better that we could do it.

When you were paying that $1,5000 or $1,6000, I know you weren’t putting probably all the way up to your practice payment, but were you putting some money away monthly into a savings account?

Yeah. We really started to dial that in earlier in 2023. We’re at slightly different compensation levels with our work. Ben and I are similar but a little different. I was trying to put away a good amount knowing that this was a goal for us. I was doing 20% or 25%. I wasn’t doing anything before that. I had a little bit from previously saving and all those COVID big payments that you got from the government and whatever. I was throwing that in savings and stuff like that. We had saved a little bit, but we tried to make those practice payments when we knew we were going to do this.

That’s the mentality shift in the rent replacement strategy that I’m trying to explain to people. I don’t think I’ve ever said this out loud before. Your rent replacement strategy isn’t to replace your rent with a mortgage. It’s truly to replace your rent and your monthly savings that you’re doing with the mortgage. Those combined numbers can become your mortgage payment and your home is a forced savings account.

How to Buy a Home | First Home
First Home: Your rent replacement strategy isn’t replacing your rent with a mortgage; it’s truly replacing your rent and your monthly savings that you’re doing with the mortgage.

That’s exactly how I saw it whenever you were explaining making the practice payments as well. Whatever I’m putting in savings, as long as I have a little bit of extra, that can go into the mortgage payment. We’re both young. We expect increases in pay over time. Even talking to Brian, thinking, “Let’s stretch a little bit now,” because it is a stretch for us from where we’re at. We’re like, “Let’s stretch a little bit now to feel comfortable in the home that we plan to be in for probably 5 to 7 years so that at the end of 3 or 4 years, we’re not busting out at the seams and wanting something bigger.”

It’s a balancing game. I am majorly empathetic for people who don’t want to feel house poor, which is the phrase that people get to me all the time. My best, logical, not an old Boomer man saying, “This is what you do. House poor or $70,000 poor?” There are opportunities everywhere. You have a great attitude. It is true.

I heard someone else say this and I stole it. The hardest your mortgage payments are ever going to be are the first three years that you own your home. You’ve been used to your rent going up and that stopped, so your payment is going to be fixed. You’re young. 3 to 5 years in, suddenly, you’re going to go, “I haven’t had a rent increase in 5 years. That payment doesn’t feel so bad.”


I’m going to copy this blueprint on, “Here are all the reasons why and where you can go.” W as there anything else about the home-buying process? I know we’ve gone through a lot here, but are there any other tips you want to throw out there?

I don’t think I’ve heard you speak about this before. You may have, so you can correct me if I’m wrong. There is one cool thing that Brian did when we went under contract, which I didn’t even realize until afterward. He wrote into the contract that the inspection period, which would normally begin right after the offer was accepted, would not begin until the seller secured their home. It was so that we wouldn’t have to pay for an inspection of a home that we weren’t going to get anyway. I thought that was a cool thing for him to do.

It is very tricky. We call these contingent purchases on contingent purchases. That’s another reason why in a competitive market, it is really important that you have a unicorn who has negotiated every type in buyer’s markets and seller’s markets. You didn’t have to offer $10,000 or $15,000 at the beginning because you were offering them something else.

It’s not just about price. It’s the understanding that these people need to secure another home. They don’t want to be homeless. They had the option to sell the house, move out, and rent for a month or two, but you gave the perfect scenario for them. It’s because of that that you got $5,000 back, your time period didn’t get affected, and you were safe. That’s a really cool thing. That’s awesome.

It was really cool. The sellers were quite easy to work with. Brian even commented that it doesn’t always go this easy because the first house, first off, we’re accepted. They asked for a 35-day closing period. They needed a little bit more time. They had three kids and stuff like that. There was that, but that wasn’t a big deal to us. We were going month to month so we didn’t have to buy out of our lease or anything like that. We had that to offer to them at the time.

Did you do a crossover at the end? Did you stay for a couple of extra weeks in the apartment so you didn’t have to rush out of there?

We paid for all of August 2023. We closed August 21st, 2023. We moved on the 26th. We pretty much did most of our moving in one day. We went back to the apartment a few times to clean up and stuff. There were maybe two weeks of crossovers. Even if we had paid for an extra month, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. That felt like it was going to be plenty for us.

I  always tell people at least a week if not two, but that’s perfect. I  want to make sure the homies aren’t trying to plan it. That two weeks of extra payment is so worth it. Not to mention the fact that your first mortgage payment, if you closed on August 21st, 2023, you get to September 1st, 2023 and you don’t have a mortgage payment. Your mortgage payment isn’t until the end of September. You were there for six weeks before you sent your first check.

I was negligible in the last couple of weeks. I’m very much a planner. I had no intention of making our last day lease our first day moving in. That was not going to happen.

Even though you are a planner and you could have pulled it off, you realized, “Why put myself under stress?”

Exactly. It’s unnecessary.

Let’s talk fairytale fun. You’ve been in there six months. How’s it going?

It’s great. We haven’t done a ton to the house. We’ve done a few little things. We’ve done a little bit of caulking in the kitchen and one of our guest bathrooms. We had a rotting plank under one of the exterior windows. We fixed that in the summer. I would like to do some painting, but we haven’t really gotten around to it.

Ben’s in school. We both work full-time, so we’re both pretty busy. We’re shift-passing in the night to half of the week with working at night and me working during the day. We haven’t done a ton. We need to do a little bit of wallwork, painting, and stuff like that. We’re so happy. We went from 630 or 650 square feet or something like that to 1,300 square feet, having a garage, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and space for us to breathe. We’re honestly so happy.

The fun thing is here we are six months in and you’re talking about physical breathing space. In the next six months, we’re going to be talking about financial breathing space for you.

Exactly. We both have gotten small increases in pay. We know things are going to get easier. It’s patience, time, being a little frugal, and knowing that will lead us to financial freedom in the future.

You’re getting equity because the market’s still going up. I didn’t even ask you. What did you guys end up doing for a down payment?

We did an FHA loan. We did a 3.5% down payment. All in, closing costs were between $17,000 and $18,000. It was not a lot for what we got.

You are above the national average. The summarization of your story is very simple. The reason why I started the show a long time ago was so that people could know this. If you do the math and realize that you have been paying $70,000 for the 4 years that you’ve been renting together, find $20,000, and prepare and practice a new payment. You can buy the average home in America. That’s an incredible story.

How to Buy a Home | First Home
First Home: If you do the math and realize that you have been paying seventy thousand dollars for the four years that you’ve been renting, find twenty thousand dollars and practice a new payment and you can buy the average home in America.

We couldn’t have done it without you, Brian, and Kelly. I didn’t talk a lot about Kelly and her team, but they honestly were also incredible. My first conversation with them was straight. They educated us on the process and what it looked like. They gave us an example of, “If you buy this much home, this is what the cost breakdown looks like.” Working with all of you has been so incredible. We couldn’t have gotten here without all of you. We’re so thankful.

It is nice because the court team is a unicorn lending team. You’ve got the unicorn realtor. I always get very excited to hear that the first conversation isn’t, “You’re approved. Let’s go look at houses.” It’s planning. You got that planning conversation and still moved at warp speed.

It was so fast. I did not expect it to happen like that, but sometimes, it works out. We were ready to a degree. During COVID, we had done some backwork on Ben’s credit because it wasn’t at a level where we could use both of our incomes at that time to purchase to put on a loan. This is prior to finding you and everything, but we’d done a secured credit card for him.

That’s smart.

That got his credit score up to quite a good score. After checking out some of your episodes, we asked his mom to make him an authorized user. That bumped it up a significant amount. My dad did that for me a long time ago when I was a teenager and my credit was in an okay spot.

An authorized user is a magic bullet.

It was 30 or 40 points. It was pretty insane how much it increased it.

It can be doubled because the history is huge. Your parents that you’re getting it from, if they have big available credit as well, then you get the double dip. When I became an authorized user on my dad’s card, the card I had would’ve been when I was seven years old that he got me on. I have a credit history from 1977. He always has a $40,000 card and keeps it between $5,000 and $8,000. I’m like, “Okay.”

The other thing I did was when we got closer to closing, I asked for a credit line increase with one of my cards to help get me closer to that 7% sweet spot. I don’t remember the number exactly, but it was to help with that.

7% is where you want your debt to be on your credit card. If you have a $10,000 card, you want it to be down there at 7% or whatever it is. Those are three of the quick ones that people need to know about. One is an authorized user. If you don’t have an authorized user, that’s fine. I like the people that don’t have an authorized user even more because that means that they’re the first person in their family to get their crap together. I’m like, “That’s awesome for them.” What you did, the secured credit card, is such a huge thing. If you take a secured credit card plus credit increases, it does amazing stuff for you.

This is all very exciting. Keep tuning in to the show. I can’t find him, but I found some dude on Instagram who helps with tips around the house, like how to clean filters, water things, and all that stuff. I was like, “This guy’s awesome.” I click on him to send him a message and my wife follows him. I’m like, “Honey, I have a show for people in houses. Why didn’t you tell me about this guy?” I’m going to send it to you because you’re a homeowner. He has all these cool little tips to help you keep up with it.

That’s perfect .

This was awesome. Thank you so much for your time. Great information in there for all the homies. Congratulations to you.

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it and everything you’ve done for us.


Thank you. Bye.

For those of you who are tuning in to the show all the time, I know that you’re probably sick and tired of hearing me. This is a great way to learn and educate yourself on some very important things that I talk about, timing the market, the crash or no crash. We’re talking about getting into the game. I did an entire episode called Get Off Your Ass. Millie’s far too nice to say something like that. Her realization of needing to get into the game was another real-life version of the philosophies that I’m trying to help you guys find.

Using their 401(k), she had touched on that a little bit, erasing the fear of that. In the end, there were great pieces on building your credit. All these understandings and these tips are awesome for me because you get to understand this isn’t just me spouting theories to you. This isn’t stuff that sounds like a good idea that I heard in a seminar. This is stuff that the unicorns know how to do.

There was a lot of great talk about Brian, Kelly Cort, and the home lending team. T here is an unlimited resource of knowledge of things that benefit you. The unicorns have seen it all. Their ability to be able to negotiate for you changes your options. A lot of people think their options are, “When I go out, when I look at houses, how deep the research I do, and how many places I look at.” Your options come to you in a million different variables. There are a lot of different financial structures. If you don’t have a unicorn lender and a unicorn realtor, they’re not going to know about that.

The ability to be able to have the experience and know all the creative options for you is the reason for a unicorn to help you not just understand the whole process of buying a home but also to be able to be a badass unicorn, get you the best deal, get it done, and show you options. They started in June 2023, and by July 2023, they were writing an offer for a 3.5% down on a $435,000 house. They’re in with $17,000. That’s incredible. There are so many other great things in there .

To all you homies out there, go back and check out the other interviews if you haven’t as well. There are very specific titles that go back in the back catalog or in the back library if you have questions about one specific thing. To really get a nice feel of how the process works and find out things maybe you didn’t even know existed, check out the old interview episodes. There’s a bazillion of them back there. We’re still always on Instagram @HowToBuyAHomePodcast. TikTok is @HowToBuyAHome. How to Buy a Home – Podcast is also where you want to go for YouTube. There is going to be a lot up and coming in 2024.

Maybe you don’t want to move this fast. Maybe you don’t want to go in two months. Maybe you want to go in two years. That’s not a problem. Go to HowToBuyAHome.com. Go to Ask David and ask your question. Click the button. We’ll get you in touch with the unicorn team. As Millie said, even though they moved quickly, when she talked to that unicorn lender, the first conversation was all about strategy and planning. That’s what we want everybody out there to be able to experience. There are millions of realtors. There are a few unicorns, especially the badass unicorn with spike collars and mohawks. Check us out. Millie and Ben did it. Guess what? You can too. You can do this.

Important Links

This podcast was started for YOU, to demystify things for first time home buyers, and help crush the confusion. After helping first timers for over 13 years, I knew there wasn’t t a lot of clear, tangible, useable information out there on the internet, so I started this podcast. Help me spread the word to other people just like you, dying for answers. Tell your friends, family, and perhaps that random neighbor you REALLY want to move out about How to Buy a Home! A really easy way is to hit the share button and text it to your friends. Go for it, help someone out. And if you’re not already a regular listener, subscribe and get constant updates on the market. If you are a regular and learned something, help me help others – give the show a quick review in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, or write a review on Spotify. Let’s change the way the real estate industry treats you first time buyers, one buyer at a time, starting with you – and make sure your favorite people don’t get screwed by going into this HUGE step blind and confused. Viva la Unicorn Revolution!

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