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When We Bought Our First Home

Capital One: Buying a Home

This post was written in partnership with Capital One.

As far as milestones go, buying a home is a pretty epic one. Aside from the sticker shock (it’s likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, unless you’re also in the market for a G6 or a Caribbean island), it’s a very adult feeling… like you’ve stepped into the Monopoly game of your childhood and bought a nice corner property on Pacific Avenue.

When we bought our first home, the whole process felt like riding a tidal wave of paper and emotions (but mostly paper— so much paper!). My husband and I were clear on our budget— but the rest of the process of home loan application and home financing? We had no idea.

Our real estate agent was patient and lovely, but treated us like the uneducated newbies that we were. She did her best to explain the mortgage process, but it all felt so opaque and mysterious. Looking back, we pretty much just crossed our fingers that we were getting the right advice, and that we wouldn’t run into any snags.

Not exactly a brilliant plan.

Admittedly, I was much more focused on the house itself— I had a fistful of home magazine tear sheets and I scanned empty halls and walls searching for a space I could spackle, wainscot, and refinish into something beautiful. When we found one, we wanted to spring into action, but we found out we had missed an important step: Mortgage pre-qualification. We didn’t have a pre-qualification letter, and we’d need to get one drafted, and fast. Problem was, it was a Friday afternoon, so the banks were closing. We had no choice but to wait until Monday to make things happen.

For the uninitiated, a pre-qualification letter is the vouch letter you get from the bank that says, “these guys are seriously interested in buying your house, and we’re good to give them all the money they need to make it happen.” It basically makes you look legit, and tells the buyer there aren’t likely to be any surprises when it comes to the money part of the transaction.

I’m sure you can guess where this is going: While we waited for the bank to come through with the letter, we lost our dream home to a savvier buyer who was ready to do the deal on the spot. I was crushed— I was convinced that was OUR HOUSE, and I literally went through all the stages of mourning about it. I am not kidding, I used to do drive-bys like a jilted ex-girlfriend! Hilariously, now I can’t even remember what that house looks like or why I loved it so much. Good times.

While I was still drying my tears, we found what actually became our first home— an adorable 3-bedroom cottage nestled among exploding bougainvillea vines in the canyon. It had vaulted ceilings, an open-concept layout, and deer roamed on the hillside behind our patio. We felt like we had found Shangri-La, and this time we were ready. With pre-qualification letter in hand, we made our move, and a few weeks later, we were moving in… and on to the next phase in our so-called grown-up lives.

Capital One: Buying a Home

Smart Tools for Savvy Home Buyers

I hadn’t thought about those experiences in ages, but when Capital One walked me through all their Capital One Simply Smarter Home Loans®, tools, it all came flooding back. Fortunately for all you guys, Capital One Simply Smarter Home Loans allows you to get a pre-qualification letter, as well as move through the entire home financing process, online (paperless!) in real time (no worries if it’s an evening or weekend) and from anywhere.

You can you get your mortgage qualification anytime (and fast!) so you know what your ceiling is, budget-wise. But you can also custom-tailor the letter anytime, making it fit the home you’re looking to purchase, so long as the amount is less than what you’ve qualified for. Having been on both sides of this transaction now, I can tell you that, buyers LOVE seeing the exact amount you’re offering on the letter… it’s like handing someone a hand-written invitation to a party vs. a photocopied flyer. You know they came to play and that they’re very interested.

Once your offer has been accepted, you can use their interactive tools to view Capital One mortgage rates, secure your home financing, all the while receiving ongoing education where you are in the process, with personalized recommendations and service the whole way through. Basically, it’s a built-in banker that you can fit in your pocket, empowering you to take charge of the homebuying experience and be an informed buyer. I wish we had had this when we bought that little canyon cottage— or the two homes we’ve bought since!

Plus there’s an Amazing Sweepstakes!

In other good news, Capital One is giving away incredible smart home prizes all summer long! Enter the Simply Smarter Home Sweepstakes for your chance to win by taking the Simply Smarter Home Buying Quiz (if you find quizzes fun; if not skip it and you’ll still be entered). You can enter once a day to increase your chances, and each week, they’ll announce one Grand Prize and two First Prize winners, so there’s lots of chances to win! Enter at

  • Six (6) Grand Prize Winners (one a week) will win the ultimate smart home system, fully installed with lighting, cameras, thermostat, security features and a smart assistant.
  • Twelve (12) First Prize Winners (two a week) will score a smart assistant to control your devices, play music and more, all by voice.

If you’re looking for some new digs this summer, you should check out Capital One Simply Smarter Home Loans: It’s a simple tool to get instantly savvier about home buying. And if you’re lucky enough to win one of these awesome prizes in the Simply Smarter Home Sweepstakes, your new home will be as smart as you are.

Thank you to Capital One for sponsoring this post. These opinions are those of the author and not of Capital One.  Unless noted otherwise in this post, Capital One is not affiliated with, nor is it endorsed by, any of the companies mentioned. All trademarks and other intellectual property used or displayed are the ownership of their respective owners. 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Sweepstakes starts 7/10/17 at 12:00 PM ET and ends 8/21/17. Consists of 6 separate entry periods. Open only to eligible legal residents of the 50 United States/DC who are 18 years old and older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, entry periods, odds of winning, prize information, restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited. Sponsored by Capital One, N.A., 1680 Capital One Drive, McLean, VA 22102. 

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