I bought the current townhouse we live in on a whim. We weren’t looking to buy a house and didn’t even think we’d own a house for the next few years… but here we are. So how did it happen and why shouldn’t you buy a house on a whim? Let’s dig into the details.
The Situation At The Time
I was working a job that I wasn’t a huge fan of. My girlfriend had just gotten a job in a town an hour and a half away. It also happened that my parents lived in the area. They had recently bought a townhouse near the beach to rent out to a relative. It seemed like they got a really great deal for the location and I thought that, given the opportunity, I’d like to own a similar townhouse one day…
Then it happened. A townhouse in the same exact townhouse row went up for sale! It sounded really appealing but I definitely hadn’t even thought seriously about buying a house at the time. I had been saving a bit of money for a house down payment but I thought it’d be at least three to five more years before I bought a house.
The townhouse was within walking distance to the beach and was cheap enough that I’d be able to scrounge up enough for a 20% down payment and closing costs required for my home loan. It was also within 20 minutes of my girlfriend’s new job which was a plus. Then, if she eventually got a job in the town I worked in we could rent the townhouse out easily for more than the expenses to run it.
We’d be able to afford owning the townhouse and renting a cheap place in the town I was working in at the time. It’d be tighter than I’d like but we could make it work within a reasonable budget. We liked the idea of the townhouse, the location, the rental potential and the fact that we could live in it if I got a job in the new town. We put in an offer and got the townhouse. It wasn’t quite that simple… but that’s a story for another post.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a House on a Whim
We are very happy that we were able to and that we did purchase the townhouse. However, there are a few things we should have had in line before buying it.
First, since we didn’t plan on buying a house so soon I had to borrow money from some of my other targeted accounts. Don’t get me wrong, I had the cash available. I just had it saved for a different goal. Don’t fall into this trap or you might run into problems if you end up needing the money for something else. Luckily I was able to replenish this within a couple months of closing on the townhouse without any problems.
Second, we rushed into the deal due to high interest in the property. We didn’t look at any other houses or consider any other options. Our townhouse only has two bedrooms and one and a half baths. It is a bit small but is big enough for us for the next five to ten years… even if we get frustrated at times with some of the size constraints. When you’re buying a house you need to make sure it is the perfect fit for you. This isn’t a decision you can easily reverse without incurring some hefty costs. It ended up working out for us but once again we got lucky.
Finally, I didn’t have a job lined up in the new town. We did have a back up plan of renting the house out if my girlfriend found a job where I was living before we bought the townhouse but we didn’t have a clear plan of what we wanted to happen when we made the offer. We ended up both living in the new place despite it been an hour and a half away from my job at the time. About six months later I found a new job much closer to our townhouse. In a down economy this was a risky move but it paid off for us. Be prepared for a long hard road ahead if you do something similar.
Before you buy a house make sure you consider all of your options. Be prepared for the enormous decision of becoming a home owner.
Have you ever bought a house on a whim? What other tips would you recommend investigating before buying a house?