One of the primary things that separates the men from the boys is home ownership. More than marriage or fatherhood, buying a home is arguably the biggest commitment the average person can make, because you can always get divorced and disown your kid(s), but hell hath no fury like a mortgage payment scorned!
I’ve never bought into the real estate as investment theory because first and foremost, a house should be a home, so I would never take out anything other than a traditional mortgage. (A VA loan, actually, officially the best thing to come out of my service in the Army.) Way too many people are paying a hard price for overreaching a few years ago when their
sucker adjustable rates adjusted sharply upwards and the promise of easy re-financing turned out to not be as easy as they were told it would be and their homes were suddenly worth less than they paid for them. When you buy a house to live in it, and buy one that’s within your means, barring some unexpected life-changing event, you’re going to be all right.
With our lease up at the end of June and the market in New Jersey having tanked compared to three years ago when we were looking last time, we decided to give it another shot and spent the last two weekends checking out more than 20 houses, an enlightening variety that ranged from good solid maybes to “good luck that with that!” We put a lowball bid on one last week but didn’t like the counter-offer and, after a second viewing, had some serious misgivings about its short-term prospects and didn’t put forth a second bid.
Then, completely unexpectedly, our realtor pulled a Ty Pennington and showed us a house that wasn’t on our list and was just far enough out of our price range to make us sad.
New roof, new appliances, wood accents throughout, three full-size bedrooms with a small extra room off the master bedroom. It’s across the street from a park, around the corner from the elementary school and about a 10-minute walk to the train station. It was as close to a “Move that bus!” moment as we’ll likely ever come, without the concerns about gaudy themed kids’ rooms that they’ll outgrow in a few years.
The owner had bought it as an investment property last summer, completely renovated it and after 4.5 months on the market had lowered the price by $30k and was even offering a rent-with-option-to-buy. Translation: A motivated seller.
We did some research — side note, our realtor is amazing and highly recommended if you’re looking for something in North Jersey — crunched some numbers, figured out our ceiling and presented a lowball offer. To our surprise, he countered with our ceiling, coming down much further than we expected on the first pass. We countered again, accepting his price but adding a 2% seller’s concession, which he agreed to and accepted this morning!
Assuming attorney review and the inspection goes well, we’ll have taken the huge first step towards buying a house and I will have taken the final, most fearsome step towards officially becoming an adult.