Having lived in single-family ranch-style homes for most of his childhood, David Shenkenberg found himself living in various apartments, but he always wanted to buy the home of his dreams.

Buying a home was not easy. There was the process of qualifying for loans and then the process of working with realtors and searching for homes. Wanting to be sure that he was buying a good investment and not a money pit, David had the prospective homes inspected and appraised before finally settling on one.

Now David provides his advice on buying a home. “Be aware that buying a home is a long-term process,” he says. “Don’t assume that you will just pick a home you like and that it will be yours. Other people might out-bid you, and you might discover that you don’t like the home after a thorough inspection.”

David says that many factors can influence your purchase of a home. For example, you might consider the proximity to major highways. On one hand, close proximity would be convenient for commuting for work, but, on the other hand, you don’t want to be bombarded with all of the traffic noise. If you have children, you want to think about how they will play in the front yard. For this reason, many people who either have children or plan on having children will buy a home in a cul-de-sac as opposed to a major road. Many people consider the school district that the home is in. Because schools are paid for largely by property taxes and because richer schools can afford to pay for better teachers, expensive areas have better schools as a general rule. If you cannot afford to live in a rich neighborhood, consider living in an up-and-coming area. You also want to consider the local crime. Hopefully, crime is not serious wherever you choose to buy your first home. Finally, of course, you want to consider the home itself. Does it meet your needs? Does it have enough bedrooms and bathrooms? Is the living area sufficient? Can you picture yourself preparing food in the kitchen?

In what city/state was your first house located and approximately what year did you buy it?

I bought my first home in West Bloomfield, Michigan, in 2013.

What was your living situation prior to buying your first house? Where/with whom/etc?

I was living by myself in an apartment in West Bloomfield.

What motivated you to purchase your first house?

I always wanted to live the American Dream. Part of the American Dream is owning a home. Also, growing up with my parents, I lived in homes for as long as I could remember. Although I did live in an apartment until I was two-and-a-half years old, that was before my earliest memories. Finally, I wanted to put my money in a residence that I could own rather than making other people rich.

How did you go about getting the money together to buy it?

In Michigan, we have a program called the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) that helps people buy their first home. Like most people, I bought the house with a mortgage. I recommend working with Quicken Loans, which is based in Detroit and operates nationally. Quicken Loans has won J.D. Power awards for customer satisfaction with mortgage origination and mortgage servicing. Of course, obtaining a loan usually requires that you prove that you make a steady income, which I do. I also have saved money. Some of my money has been saved in a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA), which can be used as a down payment toward a home purchase without a tax penalty.

When you purchased, were you thinking of it as an investment or as a place to start a family. Please elaborate.

I was thinking of it as a family home. I pictured how my kids would live there.

What are 3 things you liked most about the house?

I enjoyed the area, both the people in the community and the natural environment. Much of the area is heavily wooded. Secondly, the charm of the place invited me. The home’s design is friendly and not too ostentatious. There is a large living area with a fireplace, for example. There are no Roman columns or anything else that might say, “I’m too good for you.”

Was there anything you didn’t like about it?

Both the air conditioner and water heater broke. The appliances were several years old.

Did you make any improvements or major renovations to the house?

Thankfully, there was no mess when the air conditioner and water heater broke. The appliances simply stopped working, and I had them replaced. My parents were not so lucky. When a water heater broke in their home, water leaked everywhere, and it turned into a huge cleanup project.

I have considered getting Rhino Shield. This is a coating applied to the exterior of the home that prevents the exterior from needing re-painting. I hear the Rhino Shield ads on the radio and think about buying the product.

Please share 1-2 of your fondest/funniest memories from living there.

My cat loves to shred paper, so it is pretty funny to see all of the pieces of paper around when someone leaves out some paper and then my cat goes wild. Of course, I know about my cat’s proclivities by now, so I avoid leaving paper out, and I tell everyone to do the same.

I certainly have fond memories of my children enjoying our home.

Do you still live there or did you sell it or renting it?

I still live there.

What advice would you give other first time home buyers?

Research everything. Do your due diligence. Get your home independently appraised and inspected. My friend had an inspector look at a prospective home, and the inspector found high levels of radon. Certainly, we would not want to be irradiated!