LONG POST WARNING: I don’t recall what triggered this but you get to read the result.
When I purchased this house I had a few well meaning people comment that it was a fantastic starter home. I was incensed, when had a three bedroom home become a starter home! How much more could I grow? And what was wrong with it that I should need to move? It turns out there is an idea that young people need to buy different homes; as their income increases so should the housing expense. I politely disagree.
I’ve been getting a lot of articles recently speaking of the entitlement and grandiose delusions of my generation but we get fed a lot of stupid ideas and unfortunately have to sort the wheat from the chaff. The pressure to purchase a house and then the starter home comments came from a cross-generational group. Generations are raised, they just don’t somehow magically turn out a certain way.
I’m fortunate that though my parents get intrusive questions they rarely decide to pressure me because of them .The house, however, was a hot topic. A lot of people in my age group were buying homes – my friends, people my age with whom my my parents worked as well as the children of their friends. Of course worry set in, if their daughter was working for as much as or more than these people why was she saying she couldn’t afford a home? To prove to them that I couldn’t afford a home I met with a mortgage broker.
I did my math, figured out how much I could afford and went to the meeting prepared. He crunched numbers and then told me with that cautious air of someone about to give bad news, “When I share this figure with people your age they’re often very surprised. It may be a lot lower than you’re anticipating but we want to make sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
Then he gave me the number. I laughed, he smiled kindly and said, “I know it can be a surprise.”
“I can’t afford that,” I told him, ” I did my math, I’m not sure what I’m eating if I spend that much on a house.”
He was relieved and now with proof that I certainly couldn’t afford a house I had one final task: contact a real estate agent and present my parents with the types of places I would be living in if I were to buy the house.
You may have noticed I’ve got some high standards so there were a lot of places that I wasn’t willing to take on a 30 year mortgage for. Just when I was about wrap up my case nicely The House came on the market.
I had a clear vision of what I wanted and my real estate agent had called me when this house went up and said, “You’ve got to go to this one.”
She was right. It was the home I had described – very little carpet, a small backyard and best of all a bungalow. In a week it was mine.
In the end my parents’ got the last laugh as their pressure resulted in me purchasing my, hopefully forever, home. It did also begin a great conversation between us about how far a dollar goes now and the debts that people take on to please others.
I’m sure every generation goes through this but when hearing how selfish and entitled my generation is, I remember the feeling of helplessness and anger when I felt pressured to buy a home but all the ‘good ones’ were out of my price range. Homes that 10 years ago could have easily been mine were astronomically priced. My frustration that people were willing to give me a loan that wasn’t reasonable and my sadness that living within my, not meagre, means meant that people I loved worried about my financial well being.
Luckily for me if I hadn’t found a home my parents would have dropped the matter and learned a bit of the real estate reality of the time. I’ve had friends whose parents and loved ones haven’t been so understanding. They feel both internal and external pressure to show people that they’re doing alright by going into debt.
My debt came slowly at first and then more quickly after a rather rough patch when I wanted to prove to people that I was alright. When I purchased this house I knew my financial truth and was willing to face it. I’m back in that place and to be honest I’m happy to recapture that part of me.
What do you do differently when you’re honest with yourself?