Housing is very important to the human psyche. Finding that right place to sleep and eat makes people feel safe. It makes people worry less and that's exactly how it is for me. The debate over buying and renting is running our lives and minimalism is winning right now. In a world where people are quick to give their 2 cents about the process, I did what was right for me by taking in all the right information, and executing on it. Here is how it went.
It was a year after I'd graduated college and all my roommates were moving out of town. I was offered a full time position so I planned on staying behind, but I had to move out of the house. I went on the the local craigslist and Zillow to see what was available within a 45 minutes driving distance from work. There were many options available, but the numbers didn't make sense. Renting in a good and safe area in town meant giving away between $500-$1,500 to a landlord or property manager. Anything on the upper end of that range was a crazy cool loft and some luxuries, but that was only worth it for me if I got a roommate. I did the math and I had already given away about $10,000 by renting during my college days. Not benefiting from that money in any way spoke to me a little bit, so I started doing some research for what the process of buying a house looks like.
I'm lucky because on the eastern side of the U.S where I found myself, housing is cheap compared to the national average, and I used that to my advantage. I got a pre-approval letter from 2 banks and the average loan they would give me was about $66,000. I had consumed enough personal finance content to know that you should always buy less than you can afford. When I put in a search into Zillow, it was for anything between $30,000-$60,000. I found one listing that interested me and put in the inquiry to the realtor. The following day, that realtor contacted me, and we began the process. I was sending her a list of properties I was interested in and we'd discuss them. I found one on sale for $59,000 and put in an offer for $52,000. The house had been on the market for a few months so I was confident negotiating. The seller counter offered at $56,000 a few days later. I re-countered at $55,000 and they accepted it. I was approved for a 30 year FHA loan which allowed me to put a 3.5% down payment versus the usual 20% for the conventional. My monthly payment was cheaper than the rentals I was looking at, so saving money and starting to build equity were crazy big wins for me. After going through some income verification and the closing processes, I moved into my home about 6 months after I began my search. My 800 sqft of man cave was mine.
Not many young adults are able to make that happen. I did by simply working and consuming the right content. I had 2 side hustles while also working a full time. That means I was coming home from work Monday-Friday around 5 PM, getting online and doing supply chain consulting for a startup health supplement company for another 5 hours. I was also delivering bounce houses to kids' parties on the weekends in the summers. I researched for weeks beforehand, and I was pretty much mentored throughout the whole process by my realtor. I had great managers that were willing to work with the underwriters when it came down to verify income, because banks sometimes will require more info from people who are self employed. If it wasn't for all these factors, I might have had a really bad experience like all the ones I was warned about. Get as much information about buying or renting a house, put all the ducks a row, and do what's right for you. Buy or rent, as long as you are happy, you are winning in the end and that is all that matters.