Life With a Mortgage: Seven Months Later


By Carlos Portocarrero

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Seven months ago, after seeing over 80 places and spending two years looking, M and I finally bought our first place. After that much time and all that effort, it felt like a huge step for us. And it was—we were excited to own our own place, build some equity, and officially become grownups.

Seven months later, I’m very happy with our decision. We have much more room, two bathrooms, and a permanent house guest that fills it all with her sweet cries. We love our neighborhood and the fact that it’s filled with other families with young children.

Here are some random thoughts now we have become homeowners:

A Bill is Just a Bill

I’ve never missed a rental payment and I have yet to miss a mortgage payment (knock on wood). I don’t intend to not pay my mortgage any time soon, so sending a check to the bank versus a landlord isn’t much of a difference. In our case, we’re paying more than we were as renters, but it’s still money we know we have to pay every month. Some of it is for taxes, but I still just think of it as the biggest bill we have. This doesn’t feel much different.

DIY

I’m cheap, so when things break and I can’t just complain to the landlord to fix it, it means I’m next in line. Which is great, I like learning to do new things for myself. So far I’ve installed a couple of doorstops, dissassembled the kitchen sink and put it back together, and…that’s about it. Other than that I haven’t torn any walls down or installed any invisible bookshelves, so I haven’t done a whole lot. I’m sure that will change though.

Stress

This is a big one. Will our place appreciate in value? Are we going to take a hit when we sell it? How much will we make? Will we delay moving because of the property value even if we really want to move? What if something serious breaks and we have to shell out $5,000 for it? These are the things that scare every homeowner, and there’s no escaping them—it’s the risk that comes with owning.

Still Beats Renting

Regardless of what happens with home values, we’re still going to come out on top. While renting does come with more flexibility and peace of mind, owning is a kind of forced savings that I wasn’t doing when I rented. Sure, you could take the extra money we’re paying now and put it into stocks, become a perpetual renter, and you might come out on top in 30 years. Might. But we wouldn’t send a payment to our brokerage every month the way we do to our mortgage lender. Why? Because we don’t have to. The mortgage we have to pay.

The Tax Credit was Huge

Huge. Sure, we could’ve done it without the credit and we’d be fine, but having that extra cash in the bank is nice. Very nice. In our case, it fulfilled its goal: to get people that were on the fence to take the plunge. You’re welcome, economy.

Overall Thoughts

I’m glad we bought. Looking back, it doesn’t feel like it was such a big deal after all, but back when we took the plunge it was the “biggest thing we’d ever done.” I guess it works that way with a lot of things. I’ll let you know how I feel when I have to replace a furnace or pay a special assessment to build a new roof…then I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune.


2 Responses to “Life With a Mortgage: Seven Months Later”

  • Lindy Mint Says:

    Even though a lot of people are down on home ownership these days, I still see it as having a purpose. If anything, for having a place that is all yours. The repairs will come and go, that’s what the handy-dandy emergency fund is for!

  • Sandy @yesiamcheap Says:

    In the words of our esteemed Vice President, it’s a “big effing deal”. Buying a home is HUGE and I don’t blame you for the nerves. It’s probably the most money that anyone will spend at any given time. I highly recommend the how to books from Home Depot and the how to sections on their website. I wasn’t a handy girl either but so far I have repaired a stove (took it apart and replaced a fuse), repaired a dryer (replaced a rubber belt), and put in laminate flooring, and installed a digital thermostat with their help (I KNOW!!!). Saves you money.

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