I’m not worried, I’ve got a plan – a phrase I often used when discussing my future life goals. I knew that I wanted to pursue a college degree, purchase a car, get married, travel, buy a house and maybe even have some kids. Each step was mapped out for me. Parents, teachers, coaches, and guidance counselors emphasized the importance of each step, and how the aforementioned path would lead to a successful, happy life. However, there’s a big catch.
Our society puts a startling emphasis on the order each step should be pursued. We’ve all heard about the importance of doing it the right way. The problem is, it doesn’t always make sense to take each step in that order, and not everyone has the privilege to do so.
My personal journey happened to follow the typically encouraged path. I graduated from college, got married, bought a house, traveled, bought a new car and kids are most likely in my future. But, I still wonder if doing it in that order was the best choice for me.
Roughly three years before I purchased a home, I was a highly qualified buyer. But, I didn’t know it. I assumed it would be five plus years before I could buy a home. Looking back at the hundreds of hours I spent daydreaming on brokerage websites, I feel a little pinch of regret that so many beautiful homes slipped away from me. I feel a massive amount of regret after calculating the $43,200 dollars spent on rent those three years.
Before purchasing my first home, I had a very foggy understanding of the real estate industry and home buying process. My main misconceptions were: I needed a massive amount of savings (around $40,000) for a down payment and closing costs, I needed to pay my real estate agent as a buyer, that buying a house was risky and could leave me in financial ruin, and that a mortgage was a 30-year commitment that was going to lock me down with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
Now, after going through the process, I shake my head and realize I had it all wrong.
In fact, I only paid $2,000 dollars more for my mortgage downpayment than I did for the down payment on my new car. I did not pay my buyer agent (other than with late-night calls and a million questions).
I also came to realize I’d been paying someone else’s mortgage when I paid rent – which made it an expense, not an investment. Lastly, I learned that most homeowners do not maintain the same mortgage for the life of the loan. Every concern that held me back for those three years wasn’t valid.
The crazy part? Most Millennials (those born in or between 1987-1996) share those very concerns and questions. I only learned that I was indeed capable of buying a house when my good friend, Nick Huston (a Coldwell Banker agent), met me at a coffee shop and talked me through the process and what I could realistically expect during my home ownership journey.
A few short months after a conversation over lattes, I bought my dream home, in an amazing location. And the best part, I am now investing in myself and in my future. Even though I sometimes think about the dream homes I missed out on, my disappointment is quickly quashed by the fact that I have a home that I love. A piece of the world that’s just mine. And that’s pretty cool.