Monday, January 26, 2015

House Hunting - On Hold?

After marriage (especially almost a year and a half after marriage), most people expect one of the following from you:

a.) Have a baby
b.) Have a baby
c.) At least try to have a baby
d.) Buy a house

Now although I know I'm not exactly mentally prepared for a, b, or c, option d has definitely been on my mind. Jay and I spent most of last fall getting to know a realtor, venturing to open houses, and even coming close to putting down an offer. But as we were leaving that very house on the corner of a quiet block, I started asking myself questions. Would I really want three bedrooms on the lower level and the master on the upper? Do I want to demo and reno? What percentage is the right percentage for a down payment? Can I see us living here for 5 years? 20 years? Our entire adult life? Is this where I see us raising a family?

This is one of those instances in my married life where I've realized that everything truly happens for a reason. After taking a large step and a deep breath back, we knew this wasn't our time. We wanted to make sure we got this right instead of making any quick and impulsive decisions.

Below are a few key lessons learned from our recent home search:

a.) Save up as much money as possible. The more to put down, the better. 20% is ideal which seems pretty impossible. I commend anyone who has ever been able to save 5% or more, period. But the worst situation to be in is if you or your spouse loses your job and all of the sudden there isn't enough money for the mortgage payments.
b.) Know exactly what you are looking for. Whether it be the style of the house, the type of amenities, the layout, the work you'll want to put into it, you name it. If you are iffy on any factors, the realtor may have the ability to sway you otherwise. And no matter what they say, they're the ones making a buck or two off of you.
c.) Know your expenses. Take a look at your current expenses. And then add in all the types of things a homeowner needs to include. Like maintenance on landscape, plumbing, electrical, etc. When you rent, you don't realize how all these things add up. If a pipe bursts, you call your landlord or leasing office. But when you own, you're literally on your own. That pipe becomes your problem.
d.) Know your debt. When they run your credit to approve how much money you'll be granted for a mortgage, the bank takes a look at everything. And I mean everything. From student loans to the number of open credit cards you hold. A larger credit line almost looks like a liability (the more money you could technically borrow). I've been in the process myself of paying off some cards and cancelling them so I don't have as many active accounts. I'm a sucker for a good deal, but I have to remember you don't always need the "store" card to save a few dollars.

With all of this in mind, we have put our house hunt on hold for at least another year. We'll probably get the itch again in the fall and start re-inserting ourselves in the market. But at least we'll be a little bit more educated and hopefully in a better place to find our forever home. Take my advice for what it's worth, I'm no expert. But this past year has been eye opening and definitely a learning experience for us. And no babies anytime soon! Not quite yet at least..

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