Project Buy a House is an ongoing series that details my own roadmap to homeownership for my family and give lots of ideas that you can implement yourself.
It’s not for the impatient. This is the long game. We’ll be talking about improving credit scores, saving up a significant down payment, getting out of debt, and learning to live within our means. New posts go up on Mondays. I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Click the button above to get email notices of each new post in the series.
Our Sad House-Buying Story
In 2006 I was in my mid-30s and ready, finally, to buy a home with my husband. We were pre-approved for a $235,000 loan and I was ecstatic. My dad lived in a gorgeous four-bedroom house with a pool that he bought two years earlier for $185,000. Surely, we were going to be able to buy the house of our (okay, my) dreams.
Except the housing market had gone insane. Especially in Las Vegas. That house my dad bought for $185,000? Houses like that were selling for $400,000 when we went to look. Our real estate agent found us exactly one house that fit what we wanted and needed (at least three bedrooms and a pool. There was no way I was buying a house in Las Vegas without a pool.) The people who owned it had purchased it the year before. For $90,000. They wanted $235,000. Our agent convinced us that if we didn’t make an offer, we’d never, ever, ever be able to own a house. We’d be priced completely out of the market, pool or no pool.
Here is the exact house. Depressing, right? The inside was worse. The carpets were worn to the floor boards. It had been a rental for decades, and looked it.
We made the offer. I felt sick, which is not exactly what you’re hoping for when you make an offer on your first home. I’d lived in Las Vegas most of my life and I knew what that house in that neighborhood was worth. I wanted a house like my parents owned. I wanted a house like the houses I’d grown up in. When the owner accepted our offer, we were obligating ourselves to buy a house that was a significant step down from our rental.
Then a week later, the owners wanted to back out of the deal. We didn’t have to let them, but they offered us some money and we took it. The relief was overwhelming. We didn’t have to live in that house. We found out that it sold a couple of weeks later for $50,000 more than our offer. Today, it’s worth less than $100,000 again. If it could find a buyer. I truly believe that someone out there was looking out for us.
Instead of looking for a different house, we spent the money we’d saved for a down payment on moving out of Las Vegas. The economy crash badly affected my husband’s work and we ended up losing the credit scores that had helped us get that pre-approval.
And now here we are, eight years later. We still don’t own a home. For a while there, I really had no hope that we ever would. We were, solidly, priced out of the market. Our credit was shot thanks to my husband’s income taking an even bigger shot. We’d spent our down payment, and money was tight enough that we weren’t able to replenish it.
I won’t lie. I was pissed off. We decided not to get into something that would drown us–something that we’d clearly be upside down in eventually. We did the right thing. I kept hearing about programs to help people who’d dived into the whole housing bubble thing, but where were the programs for people like us? Where were the plans to make home ownership less of a pipe dream for people who didn’t have an obscene amount of money?
Things are getting better, though. The housing market is looking less like you might want to tell it to go home and sleep it off. We live in a city we’re in love with. And our income has stabilized. Things still aren’t perfect, of course. We’re still renting a lovely house in a great neighborhood that would cost 50 percent more every month if we bought it. But I have hope again.
Buying a house shouldn’t be a pipe dream. I really believe that.
Okay–thanks for staying with me. That’s the story of how I got here.
The Story I’m Writing For Myself
I want to buy a home. Not just any home. I want to buy the home that I dreamed of in 2006. (Okay, not that exact home, since on moving back to Las Vegas. And a pool isn’t a necessity or even readily available in Reno.)
This isn’t a six-month or even 12-month plan. I want to do this right and I don’t want to compromise, so I’m prepared for this to be a three-year-plan. Even a five-year-plan if necessary.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take you through a series of blog posts that will show you how we plan to:
1. Pay off our consumer debt
2. Pay off student loans
3. Save a 20 percent down payment
4. Improve our credit scores
5. Live comfortably within our means
My hope is that by the end, you’ll have your own plan will lead you to home ownership, or wherever your goals lie.
Let’s do this together. Next Monday I’ll write about starting where you are.
Get your hands on a copy of Mary Hunt’s book Debt-Proof Living. Check out the library–but I really recommend a copy you own and can keep.
You can also check out her website.
If you’d like an email reminder about next week’s post, CLICK HERE.
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This post is linked at these awesome blogs:
Frugal Crafty Home Blog, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Fluster Buster, Ginger Snap, The Thrifty Home, Our Life on a Budget, The Thrifty Issue, A Life in Balance, A Delightsome Life, All Things With Purpose, Lambert’s Lately, Saving 4 Six, Living Well Spending Less, Money Propeller, The Grant Life, The Shabby Nest, Broke Girl Rich