Buying a home is an awful lot like falling in love: Once you've moved in and officially made it to this new life stage, you're bound to feel a whole range of emotions—exhilaration, terror, pride, pain—with an intensity that might throw you for a loop.
So whether you're a home buyer who wants to know what kind of roller coaster is coming down the pike or you're a homeowner who wants to laugh and nod at what you're feeling right now, here's a road map to the emotional highs and lows that all homeowners encounter at some point. You're not alone!
1. The freedom of making any home modifications you want
Renters typically have to obtain their landlord’s approval before they can even make cosmetic changes (e.g., repainting the bedroom), but homeowners can make whatever alterations they want, whenever they want.
2. The pain of passing on brunch because you have to mow the lawn
Homes are "high-maintenance" relationships. Indeed, every homeowner has had to make sacrifices from time to time to take care of something around the house. Of course, you can hire a handyman to take care of the work for you, but some tasks are so simple (e.g., fixing a leaky faucet, unclogging a sink) that it doesn’t always make sense to pay someone else to do it. Hence, your social life may take a back seat to your duties as a homeowner. And yeah, it hurts.
3. The irritation of waiting around for a plumber to show up
If you do hire a pro to make repairs or improvements around the house, then you also understand, in excruciating detail, how these professionals have an uncanny habit of showing up late.
Granted, it’s not always their fault: Plumbers, electricians, and pest exterminators often get tied up fixing problems at appointments they've scheduled before yours. Still, it’s annoying having to wait around your house when you could be doing other things (like going out to brunch—remember those days?).
My advice: If you want someone to show up on time, book the first appointment of the day. You may have to wake up a little earlier than usual, but it’s worth it.
4. The stress of bills that never seem to end
When you’re renting an apartment, you usually have only a few predictable monthly housing expenses (e.g., rent and utilities), and your landlord takes care of everything else.
Homeowners, however, are responsible for paying all the bills. In addition to their monthly mortgage payments, they typically encounter new expenses such as trash and snow removal and any condo or homeowners association dues. And that's all before things unexpectedly need repairing or replacing. That’s why it’s important to consider the hidden costs of homeownership before buying a house.
5. The sweet relief of homeowner tax breaks
Though homeowners juggle a lot of bills, they also save a ton come tax time! Tax breaks exist for mortgage interest, property taxes, energy-efficient upgrades, home offices, and home improvements. So, the next time Uncle Sam comes knocking, use our handy home tax deduction checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
6. The scary realization that you're stuck here—for better and for worse
There’s no denying that renters have greater flexibility than homeowners in terms of being able to pick up and move once their lease expires. Homeowners can't budge quite so easily. This can be tough if you find the perfect job or perfect person you want to spend your life with ... in another city.
This doesn't mean, however, that homeowners are stuck for the full duration of their 15- or 30-year mortgage. It just means that you should probably stick around long enough to break even, or ideally make a return, on your investment. So how long is that?
As a general rule, you should stay put for at least five years for homeownership to make sense. Find out exactly how long you should stay put for a home purchase to pay off by entering your info in realtor.com®'s rent vs. buy calculator.
7. The undeniable pride of homeownership
In all, owning a home is a ton of stress, and work, and money. But similar to raising kids, at the end of the day, you'll be proud of how well you've cared for something so precious.
Becoming a homeowner can also mean that you build closer relationships with neighbors and become more involved within the community. In other words, when you buy a home, your whole world expands.
So, don't be surprised if you start attending community board meetings that might have once bored you to tears. There's no shame in flaking on meeting your friends so you can tend to your roses. It's all right, really. Plenty of us understand.