home sweet homeowner

about four years ago, the BF and i decided we wanted to buy a house. mind you, we’d been together maybe a year at this point (we’ll hit year five in august) so this was a pretty monumental decision for us. it implied that this was it; no more looking around for a significant other. despite the lack of ceremony and legality, that choice is what marked the “no turning back” point for us.

turns out that decision was probably the easiest thing about the whole home buying process. we met with a friend of mine from high school, who worked for the bank we both had accounts with, to go over home loan information. said friend, unfortunately, overestimated the amount we’d be able to save and presented us with such a daunting challenge that i almost said, “screw it, let’s move to canada/portland/ireland instead” (actually, i still say that fairly regularly).

i knew a little about home loans, courtesy of suze orman’s money book for the young, fabulous, and broke. i knew, or thought i knew, that the days of needing 10 or even 20% down were pretty much over, and that it might be possible to secure a loan with only 3% down, and not one of those scary ARM loans that caused so many issues in the real estate market. but that was it.

so we set off on a saving goal: 3% of $300k, which is what we figure is the most we can afford. this is not, however, the amount that all of the mortgage calculators think we can afford, given our current incomes. but what do they know? those things are powered by gnomes, little gnomes who want to make life difficult.

anyway. 3%. it became 3.5% in the last year, because i came across an article about raising the minimum for an FHA loan. i spent far too much time dinking around the HUD website, which is NOT user-friendly, and finally threw up my hands in frustration and turned to another source: my co-workers.

there was a home buying frenzy in my office not too long ago. two people bought their first houses within the last year, so i talked to them. one had a huge down payment, courtesy of an inheritance, the other…well, she gave me the first solid piece of information i’d come across yet: to qualify for an FHA first time homeowner’s loan, your income has to be below the median for your county. the median income for king county (where we live) is $80,000.00. combined, our gross income, currently, is just above the median income.

this is where i came up with some really inventive curses, like “fuck me with a pogo stick”. WTF were we supposed to do now? was our dream of home (actually, box, let’s be frank, all we can really afford is a glorified box) ownership gone before we’d even come into the last lap?

this was not the only thing to get in the way. when we moved into our current rental, we agreed to worry about paying off the moving expenses and house expenses first (we ended up having to buy a bunch of stuff that we hadn’t needed or DID need but wouldn’t fit into an apartment) and then start saving. $200 a month for each of us, which after two years would have given us $9600.00. except that zen ended up in the cat hospital for a bill of $1500.00, we decided to go visit family in philadelphia, took a trip to vancouver, the BF bought effects pedals, a new alto, a new computer, and a bunch of other crap, oh, then i totaled the car…you get the idea. life, in all its messy forms, got in the way, and the idea of renting for three years turned into renting for four years and now, about seven months from when we need to have the full downpayment together so we can start house hunting, i’m already exhausted and want to curl into the fetal position, possibly sucking my thumb and rocking back and forth. and i haven’t even started on all the loan-lingo garbage we’ll have to wade through. seriously, is there a reason they can’t write that in language that your average human can understand?

but maybe, just maybe, this time next year we’ll be getting ready to move into our lovely box of a house. or maybe i’ll have convinced the BF that living in ireland isn’t the worst thing he could be doing.

*image via weheartit.com

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