One of the big grown-up moments in a person’s life, aside from graduating college, marrying and having children, has to be buying a house.
My husband and I bought our home a little over three years ago, before the housing market went – well, let’s be frank – into the crapper.
I was wondering as we started sending in our first monthly payments: Will our house go up in value? I had my doubts: Like when you get into a TV show, and it gets canceled; when you forget your umbrella and it rains. But we bought the house because we loved it, we loved the neighborhood and we loved the city.
We didn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon, barring worst-case scenarios such as layoffs and anything else that might make paying the mortgage impossible. Good thing, too.
We didn’t get one of those fancy adjustable-rate mortgages either. Just a down payment and a fixed 30-year loan. At least we weren’t going to get buried in extra interest, just the sizable but fixed amount that we got with our loan. And luckily we bought less house than we were approved for. I still think, especially as I send out that monthly check (Gen X dinosaur that I am), only 27 years to go (or wherever we’re at in the timeline of paying our mortgage).
And as I sit back and count months off, I’ve watched the property values in our area sink (well, where hasn’t it happened?). It makes me wonder, and sometimes fume, that we paid way too much (though at the time we bought our house it was a fair price and at a low interest rate). Out of morbid curiosity I scan the papers and the Internet for home prices and home sales: That house two blocks over is selling for $20,000 less than we paid for ours in 2005. That house on our street sold for two-thirds what we paid for ours. Excuse me while I grab an antacid tablet.
Friends and acquaintances are going through the same thing, too. Gulping as the assessments come in, and thinking, at least property taxes will go down, though an apartment looks incredibly attractive to them sometimes.
But my husband is still employed. I’m on unemployment and am I ever thankful that we refused to buy as much house as we were approved for. We’d be one of those sad tales of foreclosure if that were the case – though that could indeed be down the road in a couple years. Being stingy might save us – in the long run or at least buy us a couple more years. Who knows?
We can still make the payment on my husband’s income alone and get by OK so long as we don’t get silly and extravagant. And oddly enough, it’s almost a fun challenge to try and do it on less.
So our house, which might be only worth two-thirds what we paid, offers a roof over our heads, shelter from the elements, and a patch of space to call our own.
Maybe it’s not such a bad investment after all.