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Why We Bought a House, and Why We Bought It Now

When is the right time to buy a house?

Certainly not when you’ve got a brand-new baby commanding every waking second of your time. But that’s exactly what we did. We just became new parents, and we’re buying a home. We close in ten days.

But why buy a house? And why do it now?

The Wrong Reasons to Buy a House

If you’ve been paying attention, there are copious compelling reasons to purchase real estate of late. Among the most popular are:

These were not the primary drivers of our decision, though they certainly helped. For us, it was simply the right time to buy a house.

We did not buy a house because of bargain-basement mortgage rates. Mortgage rates can’t get much lower, and whether they stay low or begin to rise, it’s one of the best times in history to get a mortgage. (Certainly, it’s a great time not only to buy a home, but also refinance. Shop current mortgage rates and see what I mean).

Nor did we buy a house because real estate prices are so low. Unlike mortgage rates, I think it’s plausible that real estate prices could go lower still. I don’t think they will drop much more (at least in our area), but they could. Still, most homes on the market today are great deals, and buyers have a lot of negotiating power.

We didn’t buy a house because we wanted to upgrade our home. We’re leaving a great place. My wife’s been here for five years, I for two, and we’ve really made the little city condo a home. Yes, one could always use extra space when a baby arrives, but we would’ve been just fine.

Finally, we obviously didn’t buy a home because of a tax credit or other incentive. Last year’s home-buyer tax credit is long expired, but I mention this because we didn’t buy a home last year just because of the tax credit.

The Right Reasons to Buy a House

So why did we buy a home?

We bought a home because we were ready and we found the right house.

With our daughter on the way, we started looking at homes in May. We felt that our lives and finances were finally stable enough.

We found a home we liked, made an offer, and lost. We found another…a foreclosure…did some due diligence, and decided against making an offer. And then we waited. Months came and went and nothing on the market interested us…until August.

With our daughter’s due date just a couple weeks away, we decided to spend a Sunday afternoon visiting a couple of open houses. To be honest, we didn’t think we were going to find our house that day…we were mostly curious and looking to get out of the house on a beautiful summer day. In fact, we had told ourselves that we would wait until several months after we had the baby to buy a home.

But lo and behold, we really liked the first house on our list that day. It met all of our criteria: good condition, a sunny interior, two bathrooms, a small but private yard, and a location on a quiet street. And compared to other homes we had liked, this one was less.

We didn’t jump right away. We didn’t see anybody else at the open house, so we called our real estate broker and scheduled a time to go back and get her opinion.

She liked it, too.

On a Monday night, we decided to make an offer on the house. The following morning, my wife had a doctor’s appointment and we agreed to meet our broker afterwards to sign the offer paperwork. What we didn’t count on is the doctor saying that she wanted to induce my wife into labor that night.

Crazy as we are, we moved forward and submitted the offer knowing that we would be in the hospital for the next couple of days. Later that day, the seller countered our offer, we countered back, but then it was time to go to the hospital, and we all agreed there would be no negotiating from my wife’s hospital room: we had other priorities!

And after our daughter was born, we didn’t think about the house for days. We embraced a casual attitude about the house and told ourselves “if it’s meant to happen, it will.” The following Monday, almost a week later, we got back in touch with our broker and accepted the seller’s second counter.

Then, as my wife endured the first trying week of motherhood, I scrambled to sign paperwork, apply for a mortgage, schedule a home inspection, and basically wrap my head around what we had just done.

If you can picture some of the craziness we endured to make this major life decision right in the middle of another major life event, you’ll begin to see my point: the right time to buy a house is the right time to buy a house.

Not because mortgage rates are low, home prices are depressed, there’s a huge tax credit, or because all your friends are doing it.

Because the time is right.

When’s the right time to buy a home? Only you can answer that. If you live by the highest financial standards, it’s when your credit score is good enough to qualify for the best mortgage rates, most of your other debts are paid, and after paying a down payment and closing costs, you’ll have some cash left over for emergencies.

But there are personal reasons, too. Are you ready to live in one community for many years? If you’re buying a home with somebody else, are you married, or at least committed enough to have confidence in owning a home together?

Only you will know for sure.

Until then, don’t fret about “missing out” on homeownership. There is a lot of evidence these days that renting may be wiser than buying a home. Even if it’s not, I strongly believe that you shouldn’t view rent as wasted money; it’s part of the cost of living just like your electric bill.

Besides, as long as you rent you won’t need to lose sleep over leaking toilets and an aging roof, as I soon will…

What do you think? If you bought a home, was it the right time? How did you know? Did you buy a home and wish you had waited? Share your home buying story with us in a comment.

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. Congrats on the baby, did you go with a 15 year or 30 year loan?

    • David Weliver says:

      We’re going with a 20-year mortgage, actually. It’s a compromise between a shorter-than-30-year loan (which I wanted) and a slightly lesser monthly payment than the 15.

  2. David,

    Congratulations on the baby, AND on the house. My fiance and I just closed on a house September 1 and recently completed the move. I have to say, there is a certain level of satisfaction that mowing your own lawn for the first time brings, though I’m sure that will wear off soon haha

    I have to agree with you- there are indeed wrong reasons to buy a house (such as an $8,000 tax credit,) but at the same time you just know when it’s right- financially and personally.

    A friend told me, “Owning a house is the best part-time job you’ll never get paid for.” We’ll see how true that holds. It’s a scary investment, but a very exciting one! Congrats again, and best of luck!

    -Tim

    • David Weliver says:

      Thanks, Tim! Congrats on your house, too. I can already see what your friend means about the “part-time job”. We haven’t even closed yet and I have a to-do list a page and a half long!

  3. Congratulations on the new baby girl. Thats awesome. I was so excited reading this article. As of today, my partner and I closed on our first home. It was the right time for us, to plant our roots and start a new chapter in our lives. The factors of low mortgage rates, low home sales, and more negotiating power helped but in the long run it was time to buy for US. We really lucked out too… we’re in a well established suburb of Los Angeles, already have equity in the home and a 30yr. mortgage rate thats competitive with what my grandmother has from a home she bought back in the 80’s. Enjoy your new home… we definitely will!

    • I think we should go for buying a house when we feel we are financially strong and can afford the any circumstances to buy a home or we have good knowledge of agents that can help us or guide us to buy a house

  4. Good insight. Too many people have bought homes for the wrong reasons and got themselves into debt they can’t handle. A lot of the housing market problems stem from people getting into homes they should not have gotten into!

  5. Deepa Mehta says:

    I love this story. It’s really sweet, and brings the point back what houses stand for: family, stability, longevity, roots. All the right reasons. Thank you.

  6. David Weliver says:

    @Byran T thanks! Congrats to you, too. It’s certainly an exciting time. We closed yesterday and are just giddy getting ready to move.

    @Deepa, thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked the post!

  7. Hi Dave,

    My wife and I are still adjusting to home ownership. I have a feeling that we will be for a very long time. I didn’t think it would be radically different than a condo, but it sure is. There is, as you said, a laundry list of chores to do. They don’t really ever end, but they do add to the satisfaction of the place as you get them done, albeit slowly. I think that financially it will someday work out, but until then I’m going to try to enjoy every project. My wife and I also purchased our house at an inconvenient time (as we were planning our wedding) and though that has been stressful, I think it’s been worth it, both financially and emotionally. Congratulations on all the life changes, and on the website – I’m really impressed with the advice.

    ~Mark