To buy, or not to buy…?

I really don’t know what’s wrong with me.

I was asked by two people today if I’ve started looking for a house yet. I haven’t. I wasn’t planning to start the search until around my birthday. The thing is (and there has got to be something wrong with me), the closer I get to the day, the less enthusiasic I grow about buying a house. What’s ironic about the questions today, is that last night, while in the shower, I found myself once again thinking (between belting out verses of “You’ve Gotta Start Off Each Day With A Song”): Am I really ready to do this?

The truth is that I don’t know. There are many advantages to doing it. There are also reasons to wait. Let me list some of each.

Reasons to buy a house this summer

  1. Tax relief!
  2. Have a place of my own
  3. It’s a good investment
  4. I’m growing increasingly sick of the house that I am in

Reasons to wait

  1. Money: pay off that one credit card on which I have a balance
  2. Money: I’m not sure I’m ready to pay $800-1,000 more per month than I am currently paying.
  3. Money: How does one actually end up saving money for retirement and Other Stuff when one has a mortgage payment?

Mack Miller wouldn’t put up with this shit. Mack Miller would make a firm decision one way or the other and then blast anyone who got in his way. [This is an obscure s.f. reference which I expect almost no one to get, but which I find incredibly amusing in this context and which also helps lighten the mental load somewhat.]

Add to this the fact that I’ve been saying for a while now that I am buying a house this summer. On top of everything else, now I have expectations to live up to! Any number of people will be disappointed, even crestfallen, if I say I’m holding off for another year. It seems as though this should be a factor.

There are really two ways to go here, the easy way or the harder way. The easy way would be to say, screw it, I’m waiting another year. In the meantime, payoff that credit card balance, save more money for a downpayment, and try again next year. Of course, the easy way can also be perceived to be Getting Cold Feet. I can hear the conversations now, as though I were a character in some painful story:

     “Whose to say you won’t just do the same thing next year?” they say.
     But I shake my head. “The thing is,” I say, “the thing is that I will be in a better position next year. I will have saved more. I will be less stressed about the whole thing. Also, maybe the market will have completely tanked by then,” I add, trying to sound wise about this, when really I have no idea what I am talking about. To me, “the market” is the place I go to buy bread.
     “That’s what you said last year!” they shriek in frustration. Veins are bulging in foreheads.
     “Ah, but what did I know then? I have learned things since then,” I say, although I’m not certain what those things are.
     “I think your making a mistake,” they say.
     “It won’t be the first time,” I point out gently. I am not one to be modest about these things. “On the otherhand, it might be a mistake to buy now.”
     “You just can’t commit to something,” they say. “You said yourself that you are sick of that house that you are living in. Sick of it! And the taxes are killing you!”
     The taxes are killing me. This I cannot dispute. However, I am reminded of the circumstances under which I bought my first (and only) new car. My old car had blown a gasket. Literally. It would be $3,000 to repair. How do you resolve a $3,000 problem? Buy a $12,000 car. I don’t say this, however. I fear my point would be lost.
     At this point there is a lot of sighing, and then the subject is changed. “How ’bout them Yankees?” I say.

The harder way to go, of course, is to buy a house. There will be increased stress, lots more to worry about in the short term and long term. And what the heck’s the big hurry anyhow?

And so we come to the gist of it, ladies and gentlemen: I am just not sure what to do.

I suppose that I could find a realtor at the end of March, look around and see if there is anything that interests me. But at this point, given the big picture (which, of course, exists only in my head), it doesn’t seem like the right time. I’d be wasting my time, which is fine, but I’d be wasting a realtors time too, and I hate wasting other people’s time.

On the other hand, I can live in the house another year. It won’t be terrible. It won’t even be bad. If I live in this house another year, that will make 5 years. It will also mean that next year, I’d be 35 years old. Thirty-five sounds like the right age to own a home, doesn’t it?

I am talking myself out of this, I can see that now. But there are good reasons for it. If I bought a home this year, it would be under very strained conditions. Between paying my taxes and credit card balance, very strained. On the other hand, if I waited another year, paid my taxes, and credit card balance, and continued to save, well, then maybe things would be less stressful next year.

People will be disappointed, but it is the right thing to do.



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