Ever since I finished college, I've been trying to convince the world I'm an adult. I got rid of my old beater and bought a respectable, fuel-efficient car. I started dressing for success. I got a real job that provides health insurance. I stopped drinking cheap wine. (Although, that last one isn't really a sacrifice.)
Now, I'm ready for one of the biggest steps. It's going to outlast my Subaru. It'll still be around when I change jobs.
I've decided to — cue dramatic music — buy a house. It's become a lot more common for Millennials to take this plunge. In fact, my realtor said that in 2015, my generation bought more homes than any other age group did.
My real estate agent couldn't explain the trend. Considering the recent housing crash and economic downturn, a home purchase seems risky. I can't tell you why everyone else is doing it, but my reasons — both personal and financial — are pretty straightforward:
1. I'm tired of paying rent.
Every month, I have to pay this big rent amount. Every month, I have nothing to show for it but the space I'm allowed to stay in for another month. Each time I pay my mortgage, my house will become a little more "mine."
Why wait? I know I don't want to be an apartment-dweller my whole life. The idea of not having strangers literally on the other side of my wall thrills me.
I don't want to hear their relationship arguments, and I'd rather keep mine private, too. If I have to get up early, no one is going to be stomping around upstairs at 3 am, keeping me awake.
I won't be stuck listening to my neighbor's choice of music, and I can blast Pandora as loud as I want. It's priceless.
I'm not alone in this perception. For instance, when asked about trends in home ownership, Southern Colorado residential garage company American Overhead Door said, “We're seeing an uptick in Millennial homeowners on our service calls. Our service technicians report that many Millennial home owners were tired of renting, and felt that homes were a better investment.”
It's like they read my mind.
2. I want to be in charge.
Theoretically, renting an apartment makes life easier. For example, if there's a problem with an electrical outlet, you can just notify the landlord. Still, not all landlords are terribly responsive to their tenants' needs.
Sometimes, it's a real pain to get a landlord to follow through on repairs. If I'm going to stress about maintenance, it might as well be for my own property. Then, I have no one to blame but myself.
I also want room colors to reflect my personal style, which doesn't happen to be the off-white monotony of many rentals. I never want to see cheap industrial-grade carpeting ever again.
If my house has it, I'll rip it out. If I want to paint a wall mural in the living room or hang sconces in the hallway, I won't need permission to do so. (What exactly is a sconce, anyway?)
3. I'm staying put.
I'm done with school. I don't have to worry about paying tuition or heading to yet another college town.
That big expense is set up to automatically deduct from my bank account for the next 1,000 years. I have a budget like a real adult, and I know how much I can afford for my mortgage payment.
Professionally, I also think I'm set. I like where I'm working, and (if I do say so myself) they kind of love me there. The job's not going away, and I certainly won't be looking around for a change.
I've always hated uncertainty. Now that I've found a match, I'm staying put.
4. I'm thinking about the future.
Housing prices in my area are going back up again. I don't have a reason to think this trend won't continue. The sooner I get into the game, the faster my profits will accrue.
It's not that I'm looking to sell, but you never know. It's nice to have the investment there, waiting for me like a security blanket. It's just a large, brick security blanket with a fenced backyard.
The equity I'm building up might come in handy in the future (such as during retirement). Although it's hard to imagine myself retiring, I've been told planning ahead is the thing to do. We all have our IRAs going now, don't we?
5. I like the idea of tax benefits.
I remember receiving my first official paycheck and being stunned by all the withholdings. Yeah, I haven't been a big fan of taxes ever since. I guess some are worthwhile, but I'd still like fewer.
If I buy a house, I'm on my way. I can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from my federal income tax. There will also be tax advantages when I sell (although I'm not looking to do that any time soon). Still, it'll be nice for future me.
6. I want a piece of the (mortgage) pie.
It just so happens that I'm buying at a great time. Mortgage interest rates are great right now. If I buy a modest house with a decent down payment, my monthly housing costs will be affordable. It'd almost be foolish of me not to buy.
Interest rates have been dropping since the 1990s, and they're still comparatively low. For me, it's time to jump on the mortgage bandwagon before it heads out of town.
Buying a house isn't a decision I made suddenly. I've been mulling the idea over for a while (like every time I sobbed uncontrollably paid the rent). Right now, all the variables in my life seem balanced, and all my ducks are in a row. There's no time like the present.