The Sweet + Sour of Buying a House
Buying a house has been our biggest hurdle yet as a married couple and not for all the reasons you would think.
Both Brad and I have been huge advocates for renting, especially coming from the Bay Area (most expensive place to live in the US). There are so many advantages to not owning a house-I passionately wrote all about this one year ago.
Fast forward 6 months later as we prepared for an exciting, long-awaited move to Washington, and I had this undeniable confidence and desire to want to buy a house. The variables had changed: new city (more affordable houses), 6th move in 6 years, baby on the way. Mmk!
As Brad and I dove head first into the housing market here in Seattle, we had no time to truly comprehend the frenzy of a choice we were making as we fell into the ultra-competitive housing market filled with escalating prices and competition that was growing literally by the day during our search. We’re talking houses going on the market one day, gone 36-48 hours later. We were seeing the same couples at the open houses week after week. And fun fact: the house we are actually living in now, Brad never even saw before we put in an offer on it-it’s THAT competitive.
We recognize that buying a house is a privilege. While most of the world cannot afford to own property, buying a house here in America can often look like Step 5 in the game of life as if it’s expected that we all will buy a house and only then have reached success. There’s no shame in never owning a home and I think it’s better to never even have that as a life goal-there’s so much more to life than that.
Home buying can be a very discouraging topic for some, and after this grueling process, I now feel for many of you who have tried to buy a house or have a longing to for the sake of stability and consistency in life. We’ve been there. While God led us to such a privileged position to even consider buying a home, we asked a lot of questions, prayed, and fasted as we became ever so dependent on His leading.
Here’s some questions we asked during the process:
Question: Is owning a home a priority for us?
Owning a home comes with loads of responsibility. We’ve already experienced an unexpected electrical problem with a sweet bill attached and the joys of mowing a lot of grass including an expensive “emergency” lawn mower purchase.
We’re also here. Like here in this house for many years to come potentially. This brings so much peace, stability and also a fear of being stuck or becoming immobile for the mission God has called us to. We know in the core of who we are that nothing will get in the way of what God has called us to, even a beautiful house in woodsy Washington, because at the end of the day that’s all it is-some brick and mortar sheltering our stuff.
Question: Should we rent for a year to get to know the area?
Answer: Mmm, nope.
I really was NOT for that. And as foolish as I know that may look, I had such a determination (different from stubbornness) to make buying a house work due to the existing circumstances that God clearly blessed us with. Looking down the road, in a year, and making a move with a 6 month old did not sound practical and while we were new to the area, we quickly became familiar with Seattle’s neighborhoods and ultimately trusted God in where He wanted to plant us. Lastly, Facebook was covering our moving costs, so once we arrived in Seattle, we still had one free move courtesy of FB, so I really didn’t want to use that on a rental.
Question: Is this financially smart to buy a house right now, in 2017, in Seattle?
Answer: No but then Yes.
Brad was such a good leader in this department for so many reasons. Not only did he conquer every possible financial outcome with his intimidating spreadsheets, but he also listened to his wife despite what the numbers were telling him.
On paper-no, no it isn’t financially smart to buy a house right now. Seattle’s market is the hottest it’s ever been and although it will probably get worse, with our measly 5% downpayment, Brad’s advisors (graphs and charts) were telling him to wait till we have a bigger downpayment to avoid paying more in interest over the years.
But his wife was telling him otherwise. Basically my answer to question #2 above. And add to that, moving is positively exhausting and takes most of my time out of the two of ours’, which is frustrating while trying to maintain a steady workflow at home.
As we paddled back and forth renting vs buying, Brad was always good about putting the numbers aside to ask the question: Is buying a house practical for what we need for our family now (despite what the numbers may tell us)?
There was a constant feeling of peace and confidence through the tears and exhaustion that we should push through just a little longer. I prayed for God to change my heart, to want to rent like I have all these years past, but I never felt in the wrong or disobedient in this pursuit of buying a home. That’s always a good test by the way. Let the Lord search your heart and intentions to reveal if you’re in disobedience or not-that’s a driving line to a divine outcome.
After our 7th offer on a house in 2 months, we were done. Until we decided, ugh, ok, let’s just offer on this last one-what do we have to lose? And then wouldn’t ya know-God said YES.
We didn’t even break a sweat writing that check for $30k-no buyer’s remorse or overwhelm. When you’re right in line with God’s plan there’s no room for doubt or fear. We had saved that money for the possible purpose of a down payment and it’s now been used for that very thing as God invited us to live in a house that suits, actually, exceeds our every need and has wildly blessed us to a whole new level of humility and gratitude we have towards our heavenly Father.
We hold this house loosely with great care and responsibility but with also anxious feet to go wherever God leads us next. All in all, it’s up to the Lord if you are supposed to buy a home, when and where. Enjoy what comes your way.