Buying a House
When childrenís toys are rapidly taking over your home, itís tempting to long to buy a larger house. Before you do, though, make sure youíre not substituting one kind of stress for another. If you buy too large a home, you commit yourself to a hectic lifestyle to maintain the payments. So here are some things to consider first:
Weighing the Options
Renting, though it seems like throwing money out the window, makes sense if you can save money for a downpayment at the same time, or if you will only be in an area for a few years.
Under other circumstances, buying is usually a better idea. If you do decide to buy, you have two options: building or purchasing a resale home. Building gives you the opportunity to get exactly what you want, but it will cost you more. Nevertheless, at least your roof, appliances, and furnace are under warranty! If you do build, donít forget to factor in landscaping, painting and decorating, and many extras that would be unnecessary with a resale home.
Counting the Cost:
Ask a bank to preapprove you for a mortgage. This gives you an idea of how much you can spend, though it doesnít mean you have to spend that much! Larry Burkett recommended keeping your housing costs below 40% of your net income (after deducting for taxes and tithes). If both of you need to work to carry the mortgage, you limit your choices for one parent to stay home or work part-time.
When shopping for a mortgage, remember that accepting a variable interest rate is betting that rates will fall, not increase. With a fixed rate, you always know what your payments will be. If your budget is tight, a fixed rate is usually the best idea. You donít want an unexpected rate increase to suddenly endanger your payments.
Envision Your Lifestyle
You donít need your dream house right away. Children do not necessarily need their own rooms, and you can often dedicate one room for several uses: guest room/craft room/office. So find the house that meets all your "must haves", even if all the optionals arenít there yet.
When youíve settled on a house, think about what lifestyle it will require. Maybe the previous owners were avid gardeners. If youíre not, donít buy a house where you may have to devote every Saturday to pulling weeds.
Research the Location:
Buying the worst house on a good street is better than buying the best house on a lousy street. Look around. Have other people added additions lately? If so, then itís a good area!
Then think long term. Donít buy a house because itís right next to the preschool, only to find in ten years that the local high school is notorious for drugs. And what about transportation issues? If you donít want to chauffeur your teenagers around (even if theyíre just toddlers now), can they catch a bus at a well-lit place? Can they safely bike to friendsí houses?
Buying a house is a big decision, but remember that a home is more than just the physical structure. Donít aim for the sky; aim for what is attainable with the least amount of stress. After all, you can turn anything into a welcoming place if you let God set your priorities.