Four years ago, I bought our house. I know what you’re thinking. But no, this isn’t one of the many times where I type I even though I really mean we. I purchased our house. And it seems like the strangest secret in the world to finally share and celebrate because even though the house was bought in my name, it’s always been ours.
THe Hunt is On
Shortly after Mr. P proposed, we decide to look for houses. We weren’t really in a hurry to purchase one, but we had the sense that the market was shifting some. Plus, browsing real estate sites like Zillow has long been a hobby of mine. A sure side effect of too much HGTV.
A few months into the process, we had about given up hope. It seemed like we were
destined doomed to a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom split-level relic from an era when wood paneling wasn’t just for basements. We did bump up our price range in small increments, but we quickly drew a line in the sand that was far more reasonable than the bank’s fairy tale pre-approval amounts.
And it’s a good thing. Not just because banks don’t actually know best. Not just because signing on for a mortgage at the pre-approval level is a fantastically effective way to find out what house poor means. Not just because I routinely feel like I am drowning in our current six-figure mortgage. But also because it turned out that once we found our house, I bought our house myself.
Why I Bought Our House
I was long familiar with the used car radio pitches promising sales to everyone: good credit, bad credit, no credit, we’ve got a car for you! I had always associated those lines with snake-oil sales pitches, not reality. Sure, I knew my then-fiancé, now-husband had one credit card that he opened on my prompting. What I didn’t realize, though, is that when someone has virtually no credit (insert Mr. P here), it’s much like having bad credit. Because when you don’t have a credit history, your credit score is low. In his case, it was really low compared to mine. And the bank didn’t like that. As with most things, though, they were willing to make it work for a price.
Unwilling to pay an extra .5% or more in interest*, I did something no one in the room expected. I asked the bank to run a new pre-approval for me as the sole buyer. I’d like to tell you someone gasped. The truth is, no one said anything. For a long time.
I had the excellent credit, thanks in part to a virtual lifetime of charging shoes and paying off the balance each month and also in part to my new car payments. I had a year-long teaching contract with a salary that could swing the mortgage payments, at least according to bank’s overly generous guidelines. I even had enough money saved to put 20% down to avoid private mortgage insurance and to dodge having to escrow taxes.
In short, I was kicking all sorts of financial butt. But I never told anyone, at least not really. Exactly four people know that I bought our house. In addition to my parents, there’s the seller and his broker who made sure to tell Mr. P that he’s now “see it all” at the closing. They were exactly as awful as you’d imagine. So I stayed quiet, unwilling to run across other people who feel the same.
I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it was incredibly motivating and deeply satisfying to know that I could buy a house. It was a true girl power moment a la the Spice Girls if I’ve ever had one. But I would be wrong to make you think that’s all it was. It was also the first time that I realized just because someone pays for something doesn’t mean they care for it more. This house has always been ours. From that first mortgage payment we split and celebrated (it’s the only time I will ever celebrate six figures of debt) to all of the work that we did together to transform these four walls, we’ve been in it together.
On one hand, I could look at the house and see how financially it’s a bit more mine than it is his. But that’s just on paper. The real truth is, when it comes to blood, sweat, and time, this house is more my husband’s than it will ever be mine.
*Think that’s not much? Run the numbers on a $200k loan over 30 years. It’s A LOT.
So Tell Me…How does money factor into your relationship?