I love house hunting. In the summer, it is one of my favorite free pass times. It also serves as exercise because we typically walk to the Open Houses around our apartment. I like to see what my partner and I can agree on and things we differ on style wise. I cannot get enough of peering into someone else’s home and seeing how they live. But I also love imagining myself in the home. Some of the places around us are over a hundred years old. The character is outstanding. For some reason, I immediately see myself as a more refined, lady-like woman, who tends to a proper home. Trust me, no home is going to help me get there!
There is this expectation that my husband and I should “buy a house” and “settle down”. I resent both of them but let’s break it down a bit further.
- My credit score is in the range of ‘excellent’
- His credit score is ‘great’
- We both make above average for our age
- We are both college educated
- He has a Masters Degree
- He qualifies for a Teacher Mortgage (barely anything down)
- We have been married for two years
Great. We are perfect candidates!
We are still drowning in student loans and have very little financial support to fall back on should something happen. That sounds like the perfect combination for waking up “middle class and homeless”.
So , while I am no expert, I would like to set up a couple of “Reality Checks” for anyone who has been recently tempted or pressured to purchase a home.
The Pitch: You should buy a house! You are wasting your money renting
This person obviously feels some need to comment on your financial well-being. They may mean well. They don’t want you to waste your money.
Ask yourself:Is this person going to pay my bills? Are they currently paying my bills?
If the person encouraging you to buy a home is not currently paying your bills, do they need to worry about where your money goes? No. Even if the person is a family member, they should not feel the need to pressure you into buying a home.
The Pitch: You/I can afford it!
Ask Yourself: Can you really afford it?
I look at my paycheck and the cost of a flight to Greece or Thailand and I think, “I can afford it!” I look at a cute car, purse, outfit and think “I can afford this.” But the reality is, there are a lot of unexpected expenses that come up when you own a home. I could totally afford a house, but if the water heater went out in the same month as a leak occurred in the basement, I would be screwed. People always laugh at me when I say that, but it is true. Sometimes, an extra couple hundred dollars can be padding you from homelessness. And if that is the case, do you really want to stretch yourself that thin just to say you are a homeowner?
This may seem like a silly, self directed rant. In some ways, it totally is. However, I know that in your mid-twenties , sometimes the walls feel like they are closing in around you. And this feeling isn’t reserved for the 20-somethings. People of all ages can experience this pressure and feel like they are underperforming in their bracket. Your friends can ‘buy’ houses and have babies. And you can be happy for them. But it is important to take a moment to look at your goals.
My goal is to have a home that I can afford to decorate. I don’t want to live in constant fear. I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes that means clenching your jaw and sweating out house fever, one Open House at a time.