Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.

This week is another episode of our series “How the Nerds Do It,” where we talk with Nerds about how they personally tackled the issues they write about every day. In this episode we talk with mortgage Nerd Kate Wood about how she bought a house.

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Our take

Mortgage Nerd Kate Wood really wanted to live with her dog. OK, there was more to it than that, but Kate’s pet was a big part of her decision to move in with her mom. She also realized that rent where she lived was extremely expensive and that living at home gave her a serious opportunity to save some money.

Once she had a down payment saved, Kate got to work buying a home. Along the way, she realized the importance of having the right real estate agent, and that you shouldn’t be afraid to change it up if they’re not working for you. After Kate bought her house, she understood how being cognizant her income could fluctuate in the future had put her into a home that was well within her budget, but maybe not the best option for her since she now has a lot of repairs to worry about.

Kate also talks about letting go of FOMO, or the fear of missing out, in a competitive market. Just because other people are buying up the supply doesn’t mean that you should waive the home inspection. Especially if there are arsenic-poisoned wells involved.

Our tips

  • Find a top-notch buyer’s agent. Note, you don’t pay their commission, so there’s zero reason to compromise on a buyer’s agent.
  • Stick to a price point where the mortgage payment will work for you. Budget for everything that will go into your mortgage payment, including your principal and interest as well as costs such as homeowners association fees.
  • Don’t succumb to FOMO. In a hot market, it’s easy to get despondent and think you’ll take anything. Make sure you really want that property — it’s not just a house, it’s your home.

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at podcast@nerdwallet.com. To hear previous episodes, go to the podcast homepage.