Note to self for the next year or possibly two, for every time I see a realtor sign or a friend mentions a house for sale to me.
We've all heard what a good 'investment' a house is. Few people even argue with that anymore. But I do. Now, I'm not arguing the wisdom of investing in real estate, I think long-term in a life plan that is likely a fairly wise choice. But the absolute-ness people present this 'wisdom' with is what I don't like. People who know little to nothing about my life, my personality, my goals, my dreams, my vision for my future, they will tell me I ought to be buying a house. Heck my own little voices in my head tell me I ought to be jumping on this train NOW and buying my coworkers beautiful house as soon as possible. But every few months, I get a little too close to the idea and suddenly I remember, again, Why I'm Not Buying a House. For at least a few years.
First and foremost, I don't have a dime to my name. I don't think it's all that wise for someone who can barely resist Culver's more than once a week to be plunking down a hundred grand or so for the next 30 odd years. Years ago one of my cousins bought a new car. And the payment stretched her budget and forced her to get serious about how she was spending money. I remember my mom and her mom talking about how this was good for her. And I thought 'maybe I'll do that someday. maybe a big purchase like that will get me in line.' Since that time I have bought two cars (one with a cosigner, one without) leased two or three apartments, bought a computer split on 2 credit cards to afford it, and never once thought twice about a Culver's run when I really needed it. I'm just not built like that. That thought process doesn't work for me. That kind of stretch does nothing but harm my long-term credit because instead of just buying Culver's with cash/debit, I pull out the credit card and start paying some godawful interest rate of 12% or 20% or something on a friggin cheeseburger. Even their delicious creamy delightful two scoops of chocolate custard isn't truly worth that interest rate price mark up. So, why would I even consider 'stretching' myself with a mortgage!
Second, I am lazy. I am. Don't argue with me. I've had people argue with me about that, their arguments annoy me. Usually they don't know me all that well to recognize what I mean by lazy nor the real truth of my declaration. I haven't cleaned the bathroom in my apartment in .... months. I threw some pine sol in the toilet a few weeks back but I haven't scoured out the tub in months, nor the sink. I swept out the floor a couple weeks ago when i did my hardwoods and kitchen floor. I can't remember the last time I vacuumed my living room carpet. (the only carpet in my apartment, for the record). Last fall sometime maybe? It's the kind of carpet that you can't even see if there is something hanging out there unless you step on it. and I always wear crocs or slippers or something, so I seldom step on anything. My windows haven't been washed since I moved in a year ago. None of my draperies have ever been washed. Heck my bathroom rugs don't even get washed because I forget to take them to my parents when i do my wash. And don't even get me started on the state of my filing and office areas. All of this to clearly explain to you that I AM lazy. I don't want to clean, so I don't. I don't care if the sink is a little bit linty, so I don't bother to wipe it out. I don't notice if the carpet is gross, so I don't vacuum. And truly, even if I noticed, I Don't Care. So, if I bought my coworker's beautifully done home, I'd basically ruin it inside a year. and I don't want to be that person who ruins a beautiful home out of laziness.
Next, I don't want to think this hard about the finances and budgeting. I don't even pay the minimums on my credit cards because I dont' want to figure out HOW much extra I could afford to pay, so I put it off and put it off and put it off until it's nearly too late. Plus, i keep all these entrepreneruial emails and financial wisdom emails to read someday and never get around to them. I desire to educate myself, but I always make it out to be a bigger thing than it is, and suddenly I'm doing nothing about any of it and my credit union is calling to ask me if I want to transfer the minimum payment on my credit card to avoid being reported to the credit bureaus. So, don't even get me started thinking about escrow's and insurance and property taxes and assessed values and refinancing ... GAH!!!!!!
Also, it wouldn't be fair to my coworker. She has worked years making an absolutely gorgeous yard and just planted some beautiful trees. I told her, in jest, she should definitely sell to someone like me cause I don't care, come on back and get them! I told her. Bring a load of dirt to fill in the hole and you can come back and get your trees. But even if she did that. I don't wanna mow a lawn. I don't wanna be the neighbor with the too long grass because i'd rather sit in my living room in the air conditioning reading a novel or writing my own novel than to be outside pushing a lawn mower around. I'd like to think that my dad could come over and take care of that, and maybe he would, but it isn't fair of me to bank on that assumption. If I bought the house, the lawn ought to be my responsibility. Again, don't even get me started on the gardening and weeding that would be required!!! I even thought maybe my dad's new hobby for this summer would be gardening and he could keep up the gardens. Or even just tear them all out for all i care! But, again, not fair of me to assume that he would want to or would be able to. That was the one major selling point of my coworker's house. They just redid a bunch of the interior, new furnace, new roof, new this new that, so I shouldn't have to worry about any of that stuff for quite awhile. But do I even want to worry about replacing the roof in three years? or ten years? NO!
Then we move on to more amorphous concerns. Things that are less concrete. Like Finding A Man. If I buy a house, and join Match.com or something and find some great guy two counties over or three states away ... who moves? The house would be the 'only' thing committing me to this area. My job pays the bills, but I have skill sets that can translate pretty easily to any city or state. What if he doesn't? What if he is a fantastic cardiothoracic surgeon who has a fellowship (or whatever) to his hospital?? Clearly he won't be moving. How long will it be til i can sell this house and move?? Do I want to take my chances on getting stuck here and being miserable because I ignored all the warning signs on my concrete arguments above?
Plus, I HATE the cold. I'd much rather find an amazing ridiculously rich and successful architect in any state two to three states south of me and move there where I wouldn't have to sit in my house and lament that I have to expose myself to a windchill below zero! so, again, why would I commit myself to this frozen tundra I despise?
Probably my strongest intangible reason is this last one. I'm a scaredy cat. Bumps in the night freak me out. I read twilight a couple weeks ago while dog sitting for a friend and read until 1 am to finish it because I was so engrossed. I had to sleep with the light on because I kept imagining I would wake up and see some hot teenage vampire standing in the corner of the room. Even if I couldn't figure out how he got in, what with all the chains and deadbolts etc on the doors. (Don't argue with me that a deadbolt won't stop a vampire, I know that. just accept my 1 am arguing wtih my self). Every settling creak of the house was someone trying to break into my friend's house. And here's the kicker. I was DOG SITTING!!! The dogs would have gone NUTS if someone had even been NEAR the house, much less trying to get in! But, alas, I watch too much CSI and I know you can drug a dog by feeding them drug-laced meat or pumping noxious gas into the house. Much as my friend's hate it, I love living on a 2nd floor. You have to seriously want to get in to be able to put a ladder up to the side of my building and break in through my windows. Odds are you won't bother. Unless you are a super-creepy psychopath and then i doubt much of anything will stop you. I like the idea that I have neighbors that could hear me scream. In a house? not so much.
So, someone, anyone, remind me again why buying real estate is such a fantastic investment? If I have the house on the block with the overgrown lawn that is the neighborhood eye sore, do you want me to live next to you? If I let the inside of it completely get trashed because I don't even notice, do you want to come visit me? If I am a raving lunatic witch because I'm not sleeping for fear that someone is trying to break in, do you really want to hang out with me? If I end up overthinking all the financial possibilities and forgot to make enough payments that I lose the house, go into foreclosure and possibly lose my mind and job, do you want to let me stay with you for a few weeks?
I thought not.