Yes, you heard me right: I’m glad their car broke down. My own clients. I’m glad their car broke down. Malice in my heart? General meanness of spirit? Nope. I’m grateful that their car broke down because it saved them from making a mistake.
This was a young couple that was just beginning their home search process, but suddenly stopped short because their car broke down and was going to require a $200 repair. They stopped house hunting because with the $200 going to the car, they no longer would have had enough for their down payment. They would have been $200 short.
That means that in figuring their downpayment, pre-breakdown, they were down to their last saved dollars. Which makes me nervous. And that’s why I’m glad their car broke down. It gave them time to stop and re-assess and realize that financially they really were not quite ready to be homeowners. They had spoken to a lender who had pre-approved them to get a mortgage…but that is not necessarily the same thing as being financially ready to own a home. The car trouble gave them a moment to step back and recognize that there would probably be future car issues…or roof issues or dental issues. And they decided that before taking on a mortgage and the responsibility for a home, they needed to save up a little more money, so that they didn’t need to live in fear of any next eventuality.
So, of course, I’m not really glad their car had trouble and that they had to lay out money for repairs. I actually wish this stuff didn’t have to come up for anyone. But it does. All the time. Getting another day/week/month on the planet means there will be more bills, some of them unexpected. So what I’m really glad about is that fact that this car breakdown helped them realize that they needed a little more time.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big fan of home ownership! And I love helping people find the places they will call home. But I also really love it when clients take the time to be sure the step is the right one for them, at the right time and at the right cost.
In addition to this couple, who decided to wait a while, many of my clients have been choosing to buy homes with smaller price tags than what they could be approved to purchase. They did the math on what their house payments would be, and some have realized that paying that high a mortgage would not allow them much flexibility in their budget. And they wanted to be able to do any number of other fill-in-the-blank things with their money: some wanted to travel extensively and needed to reserve significant funds, some just wanted to know that once in a while they could hire a babysitter and go out to dinner as a couple…without being totally stressed about where those dollars would come from. So they trimmed the price of the house, and added financial flexibility to their lifestyle.
Did I mention I am a big fan of home ownership?? I am. It truly is a delight to help people nest. It is a joy to help bring individuals and couples to the closing table where they receive the keys to their new homes. But it is a greater delight for me to imagine them in the weeks and months afterward, living comfortably in the new life that comes with their new home. I hope they are not up at night worrying about whether this month will bring a car repair bill that would completely topple their checkbook equilibrium. I hope things are going well for them…and that tonight, if they want, they can go ahead and get that babysitter! Of course, they do have that awesome new backyard with the great deck and fabulous firepit…so maybe they nix the babysitter, call some friends, and heat up the grill. An evening on the new deck with friends, beers and burgers is a great perk of homeownership. And having some extra dollars in the budget for the beer and burgers…that’s great, too!
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors