So we went and got pre-approved for a mortgage and we are starting to look for a house. I know lots of you are thinking, "It's about time" and I guess you are right but to be honest I am a little scared of the whole thing. Sure, I have two kids but this, home ownership feels like such a heavy responsibility. I think I am more afraid of it than I should be.
Mostly I am afraid of being house poor. We did that in CA before we left and I am very sure that if we didn't sell it and leave when we did we would have perhaps lost the house to foreclosure. That house value plummeted over $100k in the year after we sold and we had one of those fancy adjustable mortgages and had gone zero percent down when we purchased it. Our mortgage was $3200/month and we were digging our way into some serious credit card debt trying to keep up with payments, childcare, and just plain old life.
Having experienced both of us being unemployed at the same time, I am super cautious that we do not want to be in a position where we can't pay the mortgage and associated living costs on one salary. Sadly, we did not move to a much cheaper area. Single family houses in my current town don't come cheaper than $400k minimum and apparently they are bidding up since it is a seller's market.
I will confess to you that a month ago I was mostly content to stay put and continue saving towards a 20% down payment fund. It takes a lot of time to save $80k in cold hard cash and we are no where near it. But we have a sweet deal here, nice neighborhood, ok apartment with a landlord who hasn't raised the rent since we moved in 4 years ago despite the fact that apartments like ours are going for at least $500 more a month in our town.
What swayed me, you might ask? Here I will tell you the embarrassing and bitter truth. My cousin who is 25 years old and just got engaged bought a very nice house in a town about an hour away. Sure, they have no kids, and I do bet parents on both sides helped with the down payment, but seriously, it still stings that the woman I held as a baby and who, at 13 years old held a flower bouquet in my wedding now owns a single family home and I do not.
Also, the one bathroom thing. Four people and one tiny bathroom do not make for a happy home. I can't tell you the last time I was able to pee/poop/shower/brush my teeth without someone else in the bathroom with me. Now that LM is getting towards 9 years old, it is more apparent that we need another bathroom. Sure, when I am in there doing my business it is all "Party!" but when he is there he insists on privacy and shuts the door and I very clearly see that he is holding a book on his way in there.
This will not do.
Our major priorities with the new home have to be having more than one bathroom, a backyard, and not make us house poor. Also, since commute time is a factor, and one of the very real reasons we left the Bay Area, we are mostly looking into 3 towns, including our own.
Today in fact we are going to attempt 4 open houses in 3 towns during a 3 hour stretch of time. Two towns are right next to each other, the other a 30 minute drive.
Wish us luck!