I have always been very interested in researching residential real estate, not as an investment, but as a potential future home. Even when I was a teenager I would be excited on Fridays (before Zillow was around) because the local newspaper would release the real estate section of the paper. It would list all the past week’s transactions, plus it had all the current listings with pictures. I used to dream of being able to buy the big property on 100 acres for a million bucks. In the past couple of years Zillow has replaced Facebook as my time-suck when I’m lazy or want to procrastinate.
Now that I have been engaged to my fianceé for about a month, we have more seriously considered buying a place and have been hitting up some open houses every few weeks. We currently rent a condo that is definitely too big for us, but we pay around 20% below market for it and it gets the job done. My issue is I grew up in the country and our current residence doesn’t have a yard which definitely gets me a little down from March through November. My parents still live in the same house which they built in their 20’s, and that home and property are where some of my fondest memories exist. Helping my dad build a porch, or a closet, or fixing who knows what, mowing the lawn, cutting wood, etc., are all things I remember and enjoyed.
I now think I want something like that of my own – a garage to tinker in or a lawn to host friends and family during the summer months. I know owning a home isn’t all roses and I would have to make time for a lot of things I don’t have to do now (if I don’t want to outsource), such as mowing, clearing snow, and general outdoor maintenance, but honestly I don’t mind those things. I kind of find them enjoyable and I can zen out while doing them. I’m also pretty damn handy if I do say so myself.
Now from a financial perspective, I live in a decently lower cost of living area which helps compared to the Northeast, where I’m from. But on the downside, our area seems to have quite the hot real estate market lately and homes priced right are selling within a couple of days. Personally, I think we are ready to own as we both love the area. Financially, we have no debt and the silly online calculators tell us we can “afford” a home that is three to four times the amount we are looking to spend. We definitely won’t be stretching ourselves if we continue to earn about the same income (or even a decent amount less). For the most part, we would not have to sacrifice any of our long-term investment goals if we decided to own, which is a big plus.
Now for the downsides to ownership. I work remotely. If work ever wanted to put an end to that and I wanted to stay in my current location (where we potentially buy a house), I would most likely have to take a pretty significant pay cut. This is one of the many reasons we are looking well below what the online calculators are suggesting we can spend. I think one of our main goals (since I believe my income is a little less “sticky” than my fianceé’s) is to be able to afford the house and daily lives on her income alone, just in case I decide to pursue entrepreneurship or lose my current job.
Even if we decide not to buy for the foreseeable future, I think I will continue to have my eyes open, ready to pounce on the right place. Owning a paid off home has never been part of my financial independence plans, but it definitely sounds like those who have paid off their homes do not regret it one bit.
Do you think we are ready to buy a home? Or due to my current work situation, maybe it’s not the best idea?