How to expect the unexpected, homebuying edition

By Liz Keuler

November 2017

No matter how thorough your home inspection, odds are your new house will reveal a surprise shortly after you move in – and it won’t be the house-warming party!

That’s why Andrea was prepared the second time she bought a house. Andrea is a digital marketing manager who relocated to Wisconsin from Royal Oak, Michigan. Although she had enough saved from the sale of her home for a 20% down payment, she opted for 10% and financed with a conventional loan and private mortgage insurance.

She explained: “I wanted to have some cash on hand for unexpected expenses. After all, if I wanted to, I could always pay down the principal on my mortgage later with that cash.”

The inevitable “unexpected expense” was a surprising one. Andrea closed on her house in March, and when the snow melted later that spring, it revealed a yard completely bare of landscaping. “It never occurred to me to ask for photos of the house from another season!” she noted.

Consequently, Andrea used some of her cash for a retaining wall, bushes, flowers, patio pavers, gravel and a fire pit. “It was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “Building it up from nothing gave me the chance to make the outdoor space completely my own and perfect for my two older dogs.”

Renovations were the main reason she wanted to make a smaller down payment. She was excited to put her own stamp on the house and had always wanted to explore DIY projects. It took her 5 months to find the 1950s ranch home of her dreams in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. “It’s a fixer upper, but I am using that chunk of savings as my own revolving line of home renovation credit,” she said.

Right after closing, some of those funds went toward common expenses new homeowners face, like lawn-care equipment. Then she replaced all the carpet, tore out a partial wall in the kitchen that was blocking full use of her French doors and replaced the ugly painted-over tile backsplash. She hired experts when necessary, but did as much as possible herself to maximize her budget.

For Andrea, there’s always another project on the horizon. She enjoys the process as much as the results. And she’s thankful a smaller down payment gave her those renovation options.

kendra burch

Good to know





Jose Quezada

Helpful is great

Jacky Richard

Very nice knowledge



Meseret Kassa

It looks good to us. A good advice and information for our family members and all of our friends.

Linda Pryor

Good to know

Justin Salisbury

It was interesting what



Shelia Gibson

Hope this helps everyone.

Gary hensley

This was helpful



Stanley Dieujuste

its a good idea for someone to purchase an house


Good info.


Very helpful.

Daniel Driver

Very helpful



tommeco jonea

Very helpful!

Aslin Maravilla



Good to know! Thank you.

Monashary D Boston


Charletta morrow

That’s is something good to know this was very helpful



Demarco Mcdaniel

Do your best to be prepared


helpful information



David Jordan

This store was a good heads up for me Thank you

Keekee Barnes

Very helpful

Kaddour Yamani


Norris H Matthews

Some very interesting information

Elisa Perez

Thank you

Ariel Delgado

That information is good to know, thanks

chris doherty

Great information.

Russ McKinney

Very interesting


Muy buenos

Patricia Marie Mitchell

I would not consider landscaping the back yard an emergency, but it worked out good for her. :)

sara perez

This was very informative

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Liz Keuler is the editor of Readynest. She spent a decade meandering through radio, nonprofits and the corporate world before convincing MGIC to hire her based on her staunch grammatical convictions. She lives in a charming 100-year-old bungalow on Milwaukee’s East Side. Her interests include old Ernst Lubitsch films, new action movies, 60s girl pop, Regency romance novels, word games, sewing and shallots.
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