First-Time Homebuyer: Woodstock purchase helps buyer stay on budget

The amount of time it takes to find a home and secure a mortgage surprised April Emory, who had an $80,000 price limit and spent about a year going through the process. When it was over, Emory, 28, bought a short sale in Woodstock. She chatted about the process and her cluster home.

Q: What type of home were you looking for?

A: I was looking for something below my means, something that was affordable and a good investment. Something that was newer at a good price was really important to me.

Q: Were you searching for specific features?

A: When I started the search, I wanted a basement and three bedrooms. I wanted a perfect location. With that small of a budget, I realized you couldn't get everything you wanted. I think I was a little bit disappointed because as much as I love my house, it didn't have the amount of bedrooms and everything I wanted. I liked it enough to make it my first home. It's not my dream home, but it's good for now.

Q: How did the style appeal to you?

A: It's a cluster home, so it has the benefits of the town home. You have the homeowner's association, swim, tennis, lawn maintenance. Sewer and trash is covered. You have the benefits of living in a town home without sharing a wall with your neighbors. In the home itself, it was very modern. It has granite countertops. The bedrooms are huge. Even though it only has two bedrooms, it has a lot of living space.

Q: How did price factor into your location?

A: I had to live further out to get into the price range that I wanted to be in. I'm 10 minutes from Kennesaw (where she works), which isn't bad at all. Woodstock is really growing a lot. I'm hoping it's going to increase the value of the house.

Q: How might buying a smaller home pay off?

A: Being that it's only 1,300 square feet, it's a lot less to heat and cool. I'm saving money, trying to pay off student loans, so every little bit helps.

Q: How did the negotiations go?

A: I offered full asking price. While the seller accepted the offer at full price pretty quickly (with $2,000 in closing costs paid), they had to get it approved by the bank. The whole process took about six months.

Q: What’s a challenge that arose during the loan process?

A: I received a couple of hundred dollars for graduation. The bank told me I would need to have every relative write a letter saying they could afford to give me money for graduation and get a copy of their bank statement. That was a huge pain.

Q: What’s one tip for buyers?

A: Get pre-approved. You may think you will qualify for a certain amount and find out it's much less. They wouldn't count any of my commission as income. They would only count my base salary, which is something you wouldn't think of going into the process.

At a glance

April Emory’s home, built in 2005 in Woodstock’s Rivers Edge neighborhood, has two bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and about 1,300 square feet. She purchased it in August, assisted by Ashley Kielborn with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s office in Roswell.