Going into the home buying process, my husband, Andy, and I thought it best to give ourselves over a year to save up for at least a 20% down payment on a house. We knew that paying less than 20% down on a house meant having to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). Leo from Churchill Home Mortgage confirmed this. We also wanted to pay at least 20% down so that we would be less likely to buy a house that we couldn’t really afford. Plus, putting at least a 20% down payment meant decreasing the total amount of our mortgage, which would mean a lower monthly payment.
However, Leo questioned whether or not we should abandon our ideal of 20% down. He told me that FHA loans only require 3.5% down, and most private loans only require 10% down. While putting less than 20% down would require paying for PMI, we could write off the PMI on our taxes. Besides, buying a home before interest rates and home values increase would probably save us money in the long run.
I am a spender, not a saver. If I can buy sooner rather than later, I am inclined to do so. Andy is not. He is a saver. He is careful, methodical, and disciplined with our finances. I have always appreciated that about him.
Convincing Andy to buy a house with less than a 20% downpayment will be difficult. I am not even sure that I think that it is a good idea, but in the spirit of our home buying adventure, I decide to pitch the idea to him one Friday night.
Andy is sitting on our hand-me-down couch watching tomorrow’s weather forecast. I snuggle into his side. The house is still warm from the sunny day, but the evening chill is starting to settle into the apartment. I tell him all about my conversation with Leo and how Leo encouraged us to shorten our one-year timeframe.
“He told me that we didn’t need 20% down.” I throw it out there, trying to sound casual. “He said that we can write off our PMI on our taxes and that if we get a private loan, we will stop paying PMI once we pay 20% of the principal.” Andy glances at me. Inwardly, I cringe.
“Yeah, but we just don’t want to pay PMI,” he says. The weather lady rambles about more sun and high temperatures.
“True. But in the long run, we may end up paying less if the interest rates and home prices go up,” I counter. Andy grimaces.
“We don’t really have enough money right now for ANY down payment.” My stomach sinks. He is right. Money is tight. Our move from the west coast to Texas meant a pay-cut, and right now we are having trouble covering our monthly expenses without tapping our savings account. I sigh, because I know he’s right.
The optimistic spender in me hoped that we might be able to get into a house in less than one year. I am eager to settle into a home after several years of renting and to make Texas our permanent home now that Andy has a permanent job. I am ready to buy a house, but our bank account really isn’t.
Andy wraps his arms around me and pulls me closer. He sees that I’m disappointed.
“God just doesn’t have us in a place yet to buy a house,” he says. “We are trying. You are working. I’m looking for a promotion. We just have to keep waiting.”
So that’s where we were Friday night: sitting on our couch, leaning into each other, realizing that what we have really wanted for several years is still out of reach and that we still need to wait on God to provide. As I lean and sit and wait, I think, “How do I wait and be proactive at the same time?” I will need to think about this for a while.