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Old 10-02-2009, 08:03 AM   #22
cab2g
love. my. car.
 
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Drives: 2011 2SS/RS
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3,385
Well, I built my first house last year and I had the exact same dilemma as you. Car or House. I chose the house, however, the mortgage payments (plus taxes and increased insurance) are about 2x what I was paying on rent. So I am definitely pissing a way more on mortgage interest than I would've with rent. However, you will get that fancy dancy tax deduction. But really It's only a few thousand dollars so don't get too excited. You still will be paying A LOT of money on interest the first 10 or so years of your loan, most likely more than you would've on rent. So you'll be saving less money in the bank than renting.

But besides debunking the myth that you piss away more money renting, owning a house really does have a lot of benefits. First, if you are a car guy, a garage is a must. You will also have more space to set up an office, or a theater room, or darkroom, whatever it is you want if you're single with no kids. Even in a small house, there's so much space! Since it's your first house, you probably won't stay there for the life of your loan, but if you stay there for 5+ years you will probably make a profit when you sell your house. Even in this soft market.

Yes you'll have to mow the lawn, but it takes an hour once a week, and think of it as your weekend exercise routine! I really recommend buying a new house or one that is less than 3 years old. That way you won't have to worry about repair/maintenance any time soon. The only warning I have if you buy new is that you will have to buy a lot more things to start such as window treatments, flooring/countertop upgrades, landscaping etc. Especially with starter homes, these things are not included in the base price, but they're awfully tempting to buy. Luckily you can roll that into your mortgage in most cases. So don't worry about that too much.

So what's my recommendation? Of course it's buy the house. BUT if you will have enough money to put down on the house and still afford the payments after you buy the car, buy the car, and the house When you calculate how much you're going to be paying for a house every month add in property taxes and homeowner's insurance. That can tack on several hundred dollars a month. Oh and plan for $6,000 in closing cots too that you'll have to pay up front on top of your down payment. It should be less than $6000, but it will still end up being several thousand.

And a tip when buying a house. Get approved for a loan FIRST and have the bank write down the loan amount you are approved for and have them write up a Good Faith Estimate of your loan costs. This will include your interest rate (if you lock that day), closing costs, and monthly payment (based upon the maximum amount of your loan) amount among other things. So this will really help you budget! After you have the pre-approval, then you can begin shopping for homes. Most sellers want to see your pre-approval letter before they will sign a contract with you to purchase the home.
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