We bought a house! Ha, yeah right, but as I see those interest rates continue to creep lower, the PF nerd in me says “Now, Ninja. Now!” Two years ago people were saying the market had bottomed, but here we are with sub 4% interest rates. Who woulda thunk it?
While I’ve shared many times before the reason renting is clearly the better choice for us, even in this buyers market, that doesn’t mean I haven’t flirted with the idea of becoming a homeowner. I play with mortgage calculators all the time. Crunching numbers at various mortgage amounts, down payments, and interest rates; doing my best to figure out what combination of the three makes the most sense for us.
I search Redfin and Zillow almost every day looking at what’s out there, seeing if anything tickles my fancy. Usually nothing does, but occasionally a few gems pop up. I love not only viewing what’s currently for sale, but looking back at “recently sold” houses to get a true understanding of a homes value. I’m doing everything I can to educate myself on local market conditions, and crunching all numbers possible so when the right house pops up, Girl Ninja and I can gobble it up quickly.
That said, there is one thing market research and number crunching will never be able to tell me; Who lives behind the doors in the surrounding houses.
The idea of committing to residing in a single location for more than 12 months is already scary enough to me, let alone thinking about living adjacent to people I might want to punch in the face.
Let’s examine a real world example, shall we?
My parents, and Girl Ninja’s parents both bought their houses around the early 1990′s. Both homes were new construction, in nice/new neighborhoods at the time. Fast forward 20 years later, my parents neighborhood has unfortunately gone to hell in a hand basket, while Girl Ninja’s parents neighborhood is as beautiful as the day they moved in. Over half the houses in my parents cul-de-sac are in foreclosure. Many of the neighbors are the epitome of white trash, frequently hosting bonfires in the middle of the street until 3am. Few neighbors actually care about the appearance of their lawns and homes. It’s sad.
This is no fault to my parents. They had no control over who moved in over the years (my parents are one of only two original owners). They can’t force their neighbors to mow their lawns, to not park 87 cars in their driveway/yard/street, to paint their house every 10 years, or to pay their mortgages and not get foreclosed on.
This my friends scares me. Even if we do find the right house, owning comes with the inherit risk that your neighbors could still be douche bags. When you rent, if your neighbors suck you simply move. Owning doesn’t afford one that same luxury. Heck, even if we get a great feel from the neighbors, there’s nothing stopping them from selling their house to a registered sex offender 2 years later.
deep down inside I want to buy a house. I know it’s a great time. I know there are tax benefits and it’s ultimately an investment, but until I can get past these psychological barriers, renters we shall remain.
Those of you that own, I’d love to hear your opinion on your neighbors (love em, hate em, or don’t know em)!? Anyone else seen a neighborhood with a lot of potential like my parents, take a turn for the worse? How does one adequately take in to account in the “neighbor factor” when purchasing a home?
p.s. I should be clear that my parents neighborhood is by no means a total dump and they have a ton of equity in their house, but even they would agree it’s not the neighborhood it was when they first moved in.