I could buy a house right now. No, really. If I saw a house for sale tomorrow that I really, really liked, I could put in an offer and afford the 30-year mortgage. In fact, I’ve been looking lately for a home. Compared to other people my age, I’m sort of late to the home-buying party, but not without good reason. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade wrestling with the question of where do I want to live for the long haul. I’m only slightly closer to the answer in that I’ve narrowed it down to two cities (yes, I currently live in one of them). All I need to do is determine which city will land me as its permanent resident (and that decision is getting easier to make everyday).
While I’m unsure of where said house will be, I am—for the first time in my adult life—at the most financially stable point I’ve ever been. This is not braggadocio. It’s merely a statement of fact that I have finally reached the point I should’ve reached 10 years ago; that harmonic convergence of emotional, financial and professional maturity to be ready to commit to something for more than 12 months at a time…and be able to afford it.
With all this in mind, I’ve made a decision. I will not buy a house. Not tomorrow. Not the day after that. Not next week nor even next month. I will suspend this search for a happy home until 2013.
It has less to do with the two-city quandary than it does strong financial considerations. See, I’ve learned a valuable lesson from dear friends who have bought homes: you’re going to lay out A WHOLE LOTTA CASH when you sign on the dotted line and within a month, something is going to happen that will require you to lay out A WHOLE LOT MORE CASH for repairs/replacement.
Both aspects of this lesson were not foreign to me. I know exactly how many zeroes will be on that check at the time of closing. It’s the “something is going to happen” part that scares me. OK, both parts scare me because I’ve reached a pretty good vantage point in my life where I’m spending and saving money wisely. I’m whittling down some old debt that, once upon a time, threatened my credit and wore around my neck like an albatross.
If I buy a house right now, that albatross ain’t goin’ nowhere anytime soon. Oh sure. I’d be able to afford everything with the house and could probably withstand the first domestic catastrophe. But at what cost?
With that terrifying scenario in mind, I’ve decided it’s best to wait until the new year to really and truly shop for a new home. Why 2013? Two reasons: 1) 13 is my lucky number; and 2) With the exception of my car payment, I will be debt free on 1 January 2013…at least that’s the attainable goal I choose to give all my focus right now.
My concern is if I bifurcate my focus on a home and debt reduction, something’s going to give. And right now, when I can see a faint glimmer of a light at the end of the debt tunnel, I don’t want to compound the matter by switching tracks.
I thought the decision to wait would make me sad, but it’s actually a bit of the opposite. I find it somewhat freeing. I still really want to buy a house, but I’d rather be in a stronger financial position than where I am, currently. And what’s encouraging about that is I’m already in the driver’s seat.
The rest of this year will be motivated by saving as much for a down payment as humanly possible. While I’m dismayed I won’t be able to host an end-of-the-world party on 21 December 2012 as I’d planned, I’m looking forward to having you over in 2013 for a housewarming party.
Will it be held in Las Vegas or Indianapolis? Time will tell.