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A Young Man’s Education in Home-Buying, Pt.1

Hi, I’m Gunnar.

Yes, that’s the name my parents gave me. No need to get fancy with it, it’s pronounced exactly the way you’re thinking. It’s a modern American take on an old Norwegian name.

I’m a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science. I’m 22. I moved back in with my parents for the summer so I could start building up my savings.

When I started my internship at a mortgage insurance company, I knew almost nothing about the process of  buying a home. In fact, it’s almost impressive how little I actually knew. I could have won a medal for my lack of knowledge. I didn’t even know mortgage insurance existed until a few hours before my first interview.

When something scares or intimidates me, I do a pretty good job of avoiding it. I still don’t know what an enema is – 14-year-old me decided it was probably something disgusting and made a commitment to avoid learning its definition at all costs. Willful ignorance keeps me warm at night.

That being said, I’ve finally reached an age where some semblance of responsibility is necceasary. There are plans I need to make and pitfalls (I’ve been told) I need to avoid. This blog’s purpose is to document my attempts to educate myself (and hopefully you) on the home-buying process. When the time comes for me to buy a house of my own, I plan to be well-prepared. Luckily for me, I’m surrounded by experts on all areas of the subject (my awesome co-workers).

Before setting off in earnest, I needed to find out where I currently stood — and the first step toward that end was learning my credit score. Even that proved to be something of a puzzle. My knowledge of the process was limited to what I’d seen on TV — where every credit site claimed to be the only ‘truly free’ option in the field. My preliminary Google search for ‘Find your Credit Score’ delivered 238 million results in slightly over half a second.

I was able to find a helpful guide from Forbes.com, which warned against the popular companies I had seen in advertisements. Although usually free initially, these sites (the one’s you see on TV) will ask for your credit card information and bill you later if you don’t remove that information in time.

Forbes recommended using Annual Credit Report, which is the only place to get the completely free report that federal law makes you eligible for once per year. This shows you your score from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

It turns out that without any real credit history, you can’t get a very good credit score. So far, that’s been a bit of a tough lesson to swallow. If you’re interested in following me as I continue this past-due educational journey, I’ll be documenting my attempts to improve my score in my next post.

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    By Gunnar Raasch

    Gunnar Raasch is a recent college graduate with almost no experience in or knowledge of the housing market. His internship at MGIC, however, has surrounded him with a wealth of incredibly knowledgeable co-workers who are helpful in showing him the ropes. He’s also a slightly below average hockey defenseman and a slightly above average Tetris player who moved back in with his parents. Though he plans on renting for the next few years, he hopes to be as prepared as possible when he one day enters the realm of home-buying.

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    A Young Man’s Education in Home-Buying, Pt.2

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