There is something so incredible about buying your first home--the incredible freedom of choice and answering to yourself (not a landlord).  All the big firsts: your first family dinner/barbecue.  Your first fire outside with family and friends.  Your first swing set or trampoline for the kiddos.  Your first decorating for the holidays (any holiday!). Putting up a bird feeder and greeting "your" birds.  Not having to get permission to get a new pet or to paint your trim (and painting it any color you want!).

I remember buying my first home as if it were yesterday.  Actually, we bought a vacant lot and then built our first home (a process we repeated a few years ago).  We did this because there was very little affordable inventory in the area for first-time home buyers--similar to our market today (although land is now much more costly than it was then). I will never forget the excitement of moving into the first home that was really and truly my own!

I was in my mid-20s and interest rates were even higher than they are right now (ouch, that aged me).  Renting was really no longer an option as we had just had our second daughter and it was time to have a space (and a yard) that we could call our own.  That was such an exciting time.  I came from a legal background after college, so the contract paperwork didn't scare me (and there was a LOT of paperwork)--but the bank work was daunting.  I can see how someone might find these experiences a very intimidating process, so I think it helps me to think back on my own experiences when I work with my own first-time home buyers--there is certainly a LOT to learn.  I had my first appraisal, and it was the first time I realized just how important a credit score was (other than for getting a credit card or a new car).  Working with our agent to buy the land had its ups and downs--the first thing we discovered was that the property was represented by its advertising  to have electricity--and it did not.  However, it did have sewer and water---a rarity in northern Door County.  And then the Seller made good on extending electricity to the site, so we felt so, so lucky.

Will your first home need improvements or repairs?

Will you budget for services or do minor things, like painting, yourself?

Door County First Home Buyers

The road we lived on, just outside of Sister Bay, wasn't even paved when we bought and built there (that would take a few years for the Town of Liberty Grove to complete, after more houses were built).  I loved that location and now only live three miles away from where I built my first home over 20 years ago.  Door County is a wonderful place; I've called it home for a very long time, and I love to introduce others to our communities.  

When you're buying your first home (whether it is in Door County or not), you have to remember some things, and a good agent or broker should help you.

1.  Consider utilities.  We had public sewer and water when we built, and we considered ourselves very fortunate, but those costs have increased dramatically in our community over the past 3-5 years.  In retrospect, for a build in Door County, a private system may cost more up front but cost you far less in the long run, especially if you have extensive landscaping.  What about internet?  Will it be sufficient where you are living for what you want to do (not all areas of Door County have broadband or fiber as for this writing (yet))?  Remember that these costs go up, not down, so keep these monthly costs in mind as a part of your budget.  

2.  Consider your credit.  Surprise credit issues do not only happen to first-time home buyers!  I had some very savvy buyers that had multiple homes, but had just purchased a new car AFTER applying for a mortgage.  That is a BIG credit NO:  hold off on any big purchases until AFTER your closing in order to avoid credit surprises.

3.  Consider learning about and obtaining more information on housing resources.  The Door County Board of REALTORS holds a semi-annual seminar for first-time home buyers in conjunction with our lenders and other partners, including WHEDA (the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority).  Also, remember that there are also programs where you don't need 20% down (private mortgage insurance may come into play) and other resources.  Ask your agent to give sources for more information on assistance for first-time homebuyers.  

4.  Don't forget little extras, like budgeting for repairs, insurance and other things.  This is another area where a skilled agent or broker can help with negotiation.  Even in a tight market, they'll discuss the pros and cons of home inspections, appraisal contingencies and other items that you should have a working knowledge of as a home buyer.  The last few years have seen many of these contingencies dropped in a super-hot housing market, but sometimes it is better NOT to get that first house (even if you think it's your dream house) if it's going to turn into a money pit that you cannot afford after a few years.

5.  Your agent or broker can give suggestions about local lenders with experience for all stages of the Buying process.  Don't immediately go online to just anyone, and remember--a hard credit pull will have an impact on your credit, so discuss your situation with a lender before you do ANY application where they will be pulling your credit.  

My first time buying a home is something I remember with a lot of pride and joy.  We moved in just before Christmas and it was so much fun to have a big tree in our new house (coming from a 2 bedroom apartment with 4 people).  Spring was a different matter--lots of mud, because they can't landscape in winter.  The first thing we had to do was plant grass!  We did our own landscaping over the years, and that would help me develop a lifetime hobby of loving to garden and watch things grow.  Also, remember that other than the City of Sturgeon Bay, Door County is mostly comprised of rural towns and villages.  I can help you know the differences between each one.  We got lucky to find an improved lot for our first home--if you want to build your first Door County home, we will discuss the infrastructure of each town and village and what services are available in which areas. 


Door County Fixer-Uppers

I would be so honored to help you first your first new home!  I have been lucky enought to help many first-time home buyers in my career.  Home ownership has consistently been the path to financial stability and the American Dream, and I want to help.  Whether you're buying your first Door County home or your third, I can help.  Like your first boyfriend or girlfriend, your first car and your first real kiss, you will ALWAYS remember your first home purchase.  Visit to view current Door County homes for sale with me and the entire MLS, and I'd be delighted to help you on your buying-your-first home journey.  

Buying your First Home in Door County (or anywhere)Door County Homes with Fire Pits


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All information is deemed reliable as of date of publication only and is subject to change without notice.