|There is grass in this picture. Therefore, it was not taken at our house.|
We've been feeling buy-our-own-home fever for a little while now, but trying to resist it. I think we're still not quite ready, financially. But we've been in this rental house for almost two years now, and a few things are just starting to get to me. Foremost among them, the fact that we don't have a yard. Not at all. Not even a single blade of grass. We're a corner house on a city street that directly abuts the sidewalk on both sides. I hate to watch my kids grow up, pretty much never playing outside (Yes, I could be better about this and take them to parks more, but...I don't). Also, we have eleven foot ceilings and three stories (plus the basement). I feel like I carry laundry baskets and children and vacuum cleaners and countless other items up and down four flights of extra-long stairs ALL DAY LONG. I long for a house where the living areas (kitchen, dining room, living room) are all on one floor, and the bedrooms are all on another.
For a little while, Tom and I had gotten into the habit of "just checking" a real estate website every day or so to get a feel for what was out there. We had to make ourselves stop, because we were just torturing ourselves. But we were able to confirm what a number of sources had told us - there are some good deals to be had in Pittsburgh! We both want a big old house in an old neighborhood. There are some real beauties to be had at almost a steal, if we don't need to live in a high-profile part of town (which we don't), and especially if we're willing to do some cosmetic fix-ups on our own (which we are).
As of April, when our tax refund came in, we have finally paid off all our debt (car loan and student loans). We've been working hard to do this since we were married, and it feels awesome beyond words to be there. Now, any extra money in our budget goes towards our "house fund." It's only been growing for a few months now, but we're getting there, slowly. Our credit is good. Really, I think we're on a good path here. It's just that our income is rather small. I can't figure out whether there's a "catch", but I've been hearing about FHA loans, which only require a very doable 3.5% downpayment, and it's something we'll have to look into. If we wait for 20% down, it's gonna be awhile...
We visited the in-laws over the Labor Day weekend, and my mother-in-law brought up the house question. Our parents, of course, would love to see us in our own house as well. Both Tom's parents and my dad have offered to lend us money for a downpayment. Very generous of them, and to be honest, I would be happy to take them up on the offer. Tom wants to wait, though, and try to do it all ourselves. And there's pretty much no way he would ever accept money from my dad (it's a pride thing. I understand.). So for now, we have to just keep waiting it out, living frugally, building up a little downpayment. And praying that we don't have any unexpected costly emergencies spring up on us (but at least we don't own a house yet, so any necessary household repairs are on the landlord!)
If you have any advice for us about saving for or buying a house, I'd be happy to hear it! :-)