How to Buy a House: Part 1 – Figure Out if You Actually Want to Buy a House

The Man found a house he really liked today while browsing new MLS listings. I can always tell when he’s  genuinely excited something because he’ll study it (whatever it is) intently, show it to me while explaining all the things he logically likes about it and how it meets our needs, then move on to do something else completely silently for 10-15 minutes. After those few minutes, he’ll turn back to me, shut his laptop/stop cooking/get out of the shower/pause his game/whatever, and excitedly spill out all the emotional reasons he likes the thing.

The Man’s gut feelings are normally pretty spot-on, so keep your fingers crossed that the house meets his expectations. In the meantime, do you want to learn about the process of home-buying? I thought you would! We’ll take it step by step.

STEP 1 Figure out if you actually want to buy a house

  1. Are you willing to make the financial commitment? You’ll need cash to cover a down payment plus closing costs and, in a market like Austin’s where demand is greater than supply, more cash = more power. This problem is compounded by people moving into Austin from other states where housing is even more expensive (e.g. California). Families who sell their house in California are not only awed by how comparatively cheap housing is in Austin, they’ve also got a huge stack of cash with which to buy a house since they just sold their $850,000 apartment.Keep in mind that a mortgage payment is likely going to be more expensive than your monthly rent, and you’ll also want to be able to set aside money every month to allocate for repairs. If you don’t have enough cash to cover a larger monthly housing expense, increase utilities, and property taxes on top of all your other regular expenses and savings goals, home-buying is probably not for you right now.
  2. How long you plan to be in the city?. I’ve heard some realtors say it’s smart to buy if you plan to be there for at least three years, while others say five. If you’re not convinced you’re ready to put down some roots, renting may be a better option.The counterargument to this is that if you leave the city, you can hire a management company to look after the house for you. A valid point, but another expense to consider. As well, will you need to sell the house you bought in city A to help pay for housing in new city B? Hmm.
  3. Are you willing to maintain a house? Things break. As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to get them fixed. It will happen eventually and it will suck, both emotionally and financially. Are you really willing to deal with that? For me, the answer is no. For The Man, the answer is yes.While I’m thinking about it: if you’re buying with a significant other,  consider how long you realistically expect to be together. I’m not trying to drive a wedge in between you and yo Boo, but now is the time to revisit the things you’ve disagreed on consistently. Like how handy you actually are.

Now that I’ve given you enough deeply emotional and stressful things to consider, I’ll leave it there. My next post will be about the basics of a mortgage! Stay tuned.

But until then,
I’ll be right here

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