Friday, September 09, 2005

Home-Buying, Next Steps?

We are moving forward, but we haven't done anything yet which locks us in. We have now gotten pre-approved for a mortgage from Wells Fargo, who I approached out of laziness (my work has some kind of association with them). This is basically the first bridge to cross -- can we do this if we want to? Of course, we wouldn't have taken this step if we didn't think there was a good chance we'd want to continue down the road.

My primary concerns with the property haven't changed -- the commute is long and there's no central A/C. I haven't been thinking of the A/C issue as a deal-breaker, though. Nowhere that I have ever lived has had it, and I've always gotten along fine. In some ways, it's similar to not having a garage -- I always sort of pictured it in a "house" but it's not going to ruin the place.

The commute is a tougher nut to crack. I'm a big baby when it comes to driving, but the fact is that 45 minutes is not an unreasonable drive. I spoke to my boss about the possibility of working from home more often, and she said that given the responsibilities I have and my track record, she would feel comfortable with me having a regular schedule of days where I work from home and days where I come in -- so two days a week at home is no biggie, and three might even be possible. That's actually less time in the car net even if the time spent on any given day is longer. It wouldn't be a spur-of-the-moment thing, it would be a "Dave isn't in the office on Tuesday or Thursday"
or something like that.

In terms of non-work commute, yes, it does put us farther from friends and places we've grown accustomed to. But Jess will still be working in Worcester and I'll still be working in Hopkinton. Not only that, it's not like we're moving 2 hours away -- the distance we're talking about seems like something we could handle and still manage to get together with friends regularly. Trust me, that was a concern.

So, that leaves the more generic concerns. Is this the right time? Can we afford it? And the truth is that we can afford it, but it's not the perfect time. Our credit is perfect, I'm in a stable well-paying job that I've held for ten years and Jess has worked for the same Doctor for seven years and just recently made a big leap in salary potential. We're ideal lenders, except for the savings issue. And the bank didn't even bat an eyelash at that -- they spelled out the terms of the loans, one regular mortgage, one at a slightly higher rate to make up the 20% which would normally be a downpayment. The total amount of the two mortgages is $250 higher than our rent. Once you factor in property taxes and home insurance, yes, it's a jump in housing costs -- but not an unreasonable one, considering A: how much we've been spending on travel and eating out and whatnot which we
could dial back on, and B: how much increased earnings Jess is bringing in.

So we have to decide on the leap of faith -- is this a good enough opportunity that it's worth moving a little faster than we would want? Country setting, walking distance from a big lake, wooded lot, big yard, and a house we feel comfortable in and can see ourselves settling into for a decade ... it seems like a good opportunity.

No matter when we do it, buying a house is expensive and will force substantial lifestyle changes. And we know we want to do it. We can do it now, or you can save for 2 years and do it then. We have to decide what factors play into that decision and make it.

Along the way we have to inspect the house, figure out the exact numbers with the sellers, and do whatever other due dilligence makes sense to do in terms of making sure there aren't nasty surprises waiting for us.

It's a huge deal, and it's overwhelming. But, hell, everybody does it, right? :)

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