Our First Home: The Realities of Home Buying/Home Ownership

There are many guides out there about how to buy your first home. Most are very helpful when you are considering things like what mortgage company to go through or how much you should save for a down payment. All of those things are very important and if not considered or done correctly can make or break your home buying experience. Those articles were integral to the purchase of my first home and I wouldn’t be here today without them.

There are also many articles and websites dedicated to home ownership. These have come in handy as well. I can’t tell you how many times something has broken in our home and our first reaction was “Let’s call the leasing office and have the maintenance guy fix it…oh, wait…we own this place. Now what?” Just a couple of months ago an element went out on our hot water heater. Sounds like an easy fix, except the hot water heater was old and finding a replacement element was proving difficult. Also, who was going to replace it? In the end, we ended up replacing the entire hot water heater – not an expense we were expecting. Anyway, home ownership is hard but it is not without its rewards!

Buying our Home

In May of 2015 we were not looking to buy a house. We lived in a beautiful apartment with vaulted ceilings and granite countertops. We were planning on moving to Dallas soon (within the next year or so). Paying rent on the apartment became more of a chore every month. Our rent payments were close to $1100 and we were not seeing any of that money after it was gone. It was gone – that’s it! Bye money. So we started looking at houses at the insistence of my mother-in-law who also lives in town. Her argument was that we could pay a mortgage instead of paying rent and we would see that money again once we sold the house. This is, of course, very true – If you sell your house for a profit and don’t end up paying high closing costs. After a couple of months of looking we had come up empty. Christopher wanted something new – something just built that we didn’t have to do anything to. I wanted something older with character and uniqueness that I could renovate into my own. We were deadlocked. There was no compromise.

That is…until one day we were sitting at my mother in-law’s house on a Sunday morning. Christopher was browsing Zillow as he normally does every morning and he came across a listing he hadn’t seen before. It was a beautiful 1950s ranch style home in the neighborhood right behind where our apartment was. Completely updated with new hardwood floors, a new kitchen, new appliances and fixtures – the works! It was the perfect compromise. It had things Christopher was looking for (new things we wouldn’t have to put any work into) and also had everything I was looking for (charm and uniqueness with enough projects to keep me happy). We immediately drove to the house and started looking around the outside. It had a big backyard perfect for our dogs to run around. A gorgeous oak tree took up most of the front yard. We could tell it had been recently updated and we could definitely picture our family living there. So we called up the mortgage company and the rest is history! Here are some pictures from around the time we first bought the house and how we originally decorated it (everything has changed since of course!)

3 Years Later

It has now been 3 years since we purchased the house on Waverly. We have had our ups and downs in the home, but nothing can take away the fact that it is our first home. Yes, we postponed moving to Dallas, but that is only a small price to pay to be able to have the freedom to customize your living space to fit your family.

The Pros

  • Size. Our home is the perfect size for our family of 10 (yes, 10!) We have 4 dogs and 4 cats and they even have their own room!
  • Price. Our mortgage is over $300 cheaper every month than the rent on our previous apartment was. That gives us the freedom to use that extra money to put back into the house to update it or fix things that come up.
  • Customizability. Nothing beats it! You can’t do anything to an apartment without losing your deposit and risking paying extra upon move out. Now? Yes, I would like to demolish the tile in the kitchen and replace it! Of course I want to paint the walls in the bathroom to lighten it up! What’s that you say? SHIPLAP walls? YES! Everywhere!

The Cons

  • Cost. Yes, the mortgage is cheaper than rent every month, but that’s not the only cost that goes into home ownership. In the past 3 years, we have had to replace the hot water heater, fix the air conditioning, purchase NUMEROUS lawn mowers, buy our own refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, and call plumbers out on multiple instances of the sewer backing up. It isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it.
  • Maintenance. You have to constantly think about how the neighborhood and your neighbors will react to you not cutting the grass in the front yard for a few weeks. Cutting grass is a pain and I get very self conscious when everyone else around me has perfect manicured lawns and mine still looks like a dead leaf tsunami came through!
  • Mobility. We would still like to move to Dallas at some point. Having a home makes that a little more difficult. What do we do when we plan to move finally? Sell? Rent? Can we sell it in time? There are too many variables to consider that honestly it gives me a headache.

So that’s the story of Waverly Drive! I hope you enjoyed this little piece of my past/present and learned something to help you make an informed decision on your own home buying journey. Happy hunting and don’t forget that home buying can be a very daunting process, but it doesn’t have to negatively affect you or your relationship. Make it fun!

-Jonathan

 

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