I've recently set the goal to buy my first home by the end of next year (or have one built). I've also began searching for a part-time job to work 2-3 nights per week as well as on the weekends. This will help me save several thousand dollars over the next year or so for the down payment. I also arranged for money to be taken out of my paycheck (day job) and automatically transferred into my "home savings account". So, I've got the plan in place for the financial requirements. My long-term girlfriend is also saving toward our goal. Of course, I'll be going the FHA 30-year route which requires at least 3.5% down. I'd like to go beyond that, but there's no way I'll be able to avoid PMI by putting down 20%.
What advice do you have? What things happened to you that were unexpected? Thankfully, one of my best friends is a mortgage lender. So, I'll have the honest approach and know that I'm getting the best deal/rate possible...rather than wondering if I'm getting taken advantage of by a lender that I don't know.
Do you suggest buying ... or building? I've done a bit of research on builders and some really nice homes can be built in this area for a very manageable price. Another really good friend of mine builds homes for a living. We have had very preliminary talks about the possibility of me building rather than buying. He's becoming very influential in this!
He recently built a home for his parents. I'll try to post pics of it in a few minutes.
All in all ... I recently turned 30, and it's time to get out of an apartment!