We've just passed our first anniversary of owning our home. It has been wonderful to have the extra living space, the freedom to decorate and make the changes we want, and a little piece of the earth to call our own. However, looking back, I'm not so sure we made the purchase at the best time. I'm not an advocate for waiting for "the perfect time" to do things because I think people who do that can end up waiting their lives away. But if we had spent even just one more year renting before making our home purchase, I think we would have done ourselves a favor.
If we'd waited to buy our house, we could have been freer to relocate.
I love where we live, but every once in a while I get the urge to move closer to my parents, to take a better job in another part of the state, or just to live in a different part of town. I'm not sure we were established enough in our lives to make as permanent a decision as buying a house. Now if we decided our family would be better off elsewhere for one reason or another, we'd have to worry about going through the headache of selling our house, paying for a costly move, and making enough money on the deal to cover our hefty mortgage.
If we'd waited to buy our house, we could have been more ready in our relationship.
We'd been married less than a year when we purchased our home, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure our relationship was ready for the responsibility. Aside from the pressure of the huge financial burden, there is a lot of home to take care of between two working adults who are also trying to raise an infant. It's easy to get wrapped up in wishing the other person would do more to pitch in. Maybe we should have spent more time in a smaller place and gotten a better handle on shared housework before we bit off more than we could chew.
If we'd waited to buy our house, we could have had a lower monthly payment.
If we'd prepared a larger down payment, we could have substantially lowered our monthly payment. As it was, we were just anxious to get into a house, so we put down the minimum down payment on an FHA loan. Also, there was no way we could have known, but it turns out the low interest rate we locked in at is about a percentage point higher than the going rate now. We could have really gotten a steal on a mortgage if we'd waited to buy our house.
If we'd waited to buy our house, we could have really known what we wanted.
At the end of the day, we just didn't do a long enough house hunt. I was impatient and anxious as our apartment lease's end date loomed ahead, and I thought we were fully educated by HGTV's Property Virgins and House Hunters. The house we bought was the first one that really felt like home, but now that we live in it, there is so much we'd prefer to be different. Some of it we just physically can't change, and since we sank so much into our home purchase, we don't have the funds to make the changes that would be possible. If we'd waited longer, we could have spent more time thinking about our "must-haves" and then being sticklers about them rather than jumping on the first house that seemed like a good deal.
If we'd waited to buy our house, we could have saved more money.
There's a reason it was scary to sign my name on the dotted line of our mortgage. Our home was a huge purchase! When you add that on top of our school loans, we got ourselves quite far into debt. We could have saved longer to pay down some of that school debt before piling more debt on top of it. We could have saved so that we had an emergency fund or so that we had money to furnish our house with grown-up furniture instead of the hodge-podge hand-me-down décor we've accumulated from generous friends and family. It shouldn't have been about the monthly payment. It should have been about the big picture and the long run.
When I told my husband I was writing this article, he asked me if I regret our purchase. I don't regret it because this house has become our home, but I am now able to see how renting just a little while longer would have benefited us. I'd advise any other newlyweds on the market for a new home to save enough money for a good down payment and emergency fund, get comfortable with the idea of holding out for the right house for them, and feel they are in a stable place in their lives before signing off on one of the biggest purchases they'll ever make.
More from this contributor: