A first-time homebuyer’s journey


A man sitting with a German Shepherd on the front porch of a ranch

Zach Johnson learns the ropes of homebuying and gets a home of his own—despite a tangle along the way.

Consumers member Zach Johnson recently discovered two challenges faced by all first-time homebuyers. First, finding a house. Second, learning the ropes of getting a mortgage.

“The process is a whirlwind,” he said, “and there are lots of surprises.” However, Zach enjoyed the process, as well as the satisfaction of moving into a home he loves.

Navigating the mortgage process

“What surprised me most is how much paperwork there is and how much you spend out-of-pocket,” 27-year-old Zach said. Like all first-time homebuyers, Zach’s financial education included learning about down payments, taxes, homeowners insurance, escrow and private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Fortunately, Mortgage Loan Officer Heidi Bish was there to guide Zach.

“She helped me navigate the paperwork and pointed me to a class for first-time buyers,” he said. With Heidi on his side, Zach always had someone to turn to for mortgage answers.

How Zach saved for the down payment

Zach had a solid strategy for saving.

“My savings account increased as I progressed in my job as a project engineer. As I got promotions and raises, I saved the additional money,” he explained. His plan netted him enough for a down payment in just three years.

Finding the right house

The most frustrating thing for Zach happened the first time he found a house he wanted to buy. The offer was made. The sellers accepted. And one week before the closing, Zach learned that a lien had been placed against the home. The deal fell apart.

While disappointed, Zach took the setback in stride. It took another three months of house hunting but then he found a home he liked even better than the first one!

Zach’s new home has a basement that he plans to improve one day.

“It’s storage for now, and I hope to finish it. I want to make it into a nice living space and place to hang out in. There’s a half-bath that I want to turn into a full bath.”

Advice for other first-time home buyers

Zach advises other first-time buyers that although the process is complex, “it can be fun.”

He also offers encouragement: “If you don’t jump into the first house you like it doesn’t mean you won’t find another you like. Enjoy the whirlwind.”

“Because Zach was prepared with his credit and down payment, he set himself up for a successful homebuying experience,” said Heidi. “Despite the situation with the first house, he learned a lot and thankfully everything worked out in the end.

“Zach was a true pleasure to work with”

Thanks for choosing us for your mortgage, Zach! Local, commonsense decisions and competitive rates are two of our favorite ways to serve members. We’re honored to be your lender of choice!

Consumers helps more than 1,000 members finance land, homes and home improvement projects each year. When you need a mortgage or home equity line of credit, call us at 800.991.2221. We’re here to help you get the home of your dreams!


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