A home is most likely the largest purchase you’ll ever make in your life (unless you get to yacht or personal jet level, I suppose). And the whole home-as-an-investment concept is incredibly misleading. The truth is that a home is something you’ll always be putting money into, and its value can fluctuate dramatically based on the market. But of course, it is fun and exciting to have a place that is your own, and once you are financially ready, it’s nice to be paying money towards something you can eventually sell versus putting money towards rent that you’ll never get back.
I wrote this article about a year ago about our constant internal battle with pursuing home-buying and realizing over (and over) again that we weren’t ready. I could write another whole article on how awful it feels to finally be ready to buy a house and find yourself hunting in the worst market for buyers that our city has probably ever seen. But rather than continue to lament the housing-related stress we’ve been dragging around for years, I’ll cut it off there to say that we finally bought a house! We are so excited and so totally overwhelmed to take on this new season of life as homeowners.
Buying a house is a crazy, long, complicated, stressful process. And then you get the house you’ve been dreaming of, and you realize you have to fill it with furniture and maintain it and fix things when they break! And you get an inspection and have to listen to all the things that will eventually need to be replaced, and you see what your mortgage payment is and how much interest you’ll pay over time, and you start adding up how much it will cost to buy furniture to fill all of these lovely rooms. It’s just a lot, and it feels all consuming for a while.
The thing I am most thankful for in this crazy season is that we came into it financially prepared. We ended up spending a little more than our original budget in order to beat out the crazy competition of low supply and high demand in our city, but we were still able to put down a 20% down payment. Saving up a 20% down payment is no joke, and if you told me a few years ago when we first started thinking about a house that we would ever be able to save up this much, I would have never believed you, but we maintained the same intensity we used to pay off our student loans to save up the down payment and were able to make it happen. This saved us from having to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance) and reduced our mortgage payment. It gives us more equity in the home right off the bat, which is reassuring when it feels like this crazy market could plummet at any moment. We also still have a fully-funded emergency fund remaining in our bank account after dropping the down payment so we don’t have to worry about any unexpected surprise expenses that inevitably arise when you own a home – or when your car ends up in the shop with a $1,300 bill the day before you close on your house (true story). And the real cherry on top is that we have absolutely no debt of any kind other than our mortgage, so it is the only payment we’re obligated to pay each month.
With all the stress that comes with buying a house, I can’t imagine adding to it by not being financially prepared. It is so hard to fight the urge to keep up the Joneses who are all drowning in debt and constant financial stress, but it was SO worth it for us to wait. Now, we can enjoy our first home without worrying about it financially destroying us. A home should be a step towards continued financial freedom, not a burden causing you to backslide. I know that every person’s situation is different, but if at all possible, I urge you to wait to purchase a home until all of your financial ducks are in a row!