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Buying a house in a place you've never been

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  • Buying a house in a place you've never been

    I think I'm mostly just looking for reassurance. After a year looking for houses online, at open houses, Zillow/Reddit etc, I finally found the perfect house. My husband agreed. We both loved it. We scrambled for a real estate agent (who turned out to be just completely terrible and clueless), and the house unsurprisingly already had multiple offers, so we had to act fast. We couldn't get a jumbo loan in time, so we were prepared to sell off stocks and put down $320K (house was listed at $800K).

    The problem is the house is in a place I've literally never been to, because we're moving there (cross-country) in two weeks. I have no job because the university is in a hiring freeze. My husband's employment prospects are dicey at best (he's an entrepreneur starting a new company there). We saw the house over Zoom, so it was hard to get a sense of certain things, but I did absolutely love everything about it. Our novice real estate agent was pushing hard for us to put in an aggressive offer. As an aside, we already have a rental lined up, but figured we could sublet it if need be.

    Anyway, last minute, I bailed. The agent is not happy. My husband is upset. I know it was the sound financial decision, but what if interest rates go way up next year? What if another "perfect house" never comes on the market again? Also, I hate moving so much - and with a year lease, we'll have to do it again next year. Not easy with two kids under three.

    Maybe just looking for reassurance from the savvy financial people here that I did the right thing.


  • #2
    Definitely would not buy a house I've never seen in place I've never lived. That's crazy.

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    • #3
      Okay that’s interesting I think you forgot to mention exactly why you are moving there

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      • #4
        I'd look at this averted disaster as a relatively cheap lesson in behavioral finance. FOMO and emotional attachment have led many a physician to squander their wealth. Maybe read one of the behavioral finance books on WCI's recommended list (I haven't personally read it, but "Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes" sounds like a good place to start).

        If your husband is not on the same page, that's more than a little concerning.

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        • #5
          Good call. I promise you could look and find another perfect house in a month. There are so many great houses out there. I kinda have a problem with stalking real estate listings and I find great houses all the time. If interest rates go up next year, who cares? You will just refi when they come down. We were at like 4.7% for 2 years until we refinanced yesterday. It's not a deal breaker for buying a house. And yes, moving SUCKS. But I'm pretty sure you'll sleep better this year knowing you aren't tied to this area if you end up hating it or the job situation doesn't pan out. You made the right decision.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by lakeswim View Post
            I think I'm mostly just looking for reassurance. After a year looking for houses online, at open houses, Zillow/Reddit etc, I finally found the perfect house. My husband agreed. We both loved it. We scrambled for a real estate agent (who turned out to be just completely terrible and clueless), and the house unsurprisingly already had multiple offers, so we had to act fast. We couldn't get a jumbo loan in time, so we were prepared to sell off stocks and put down $320K (house was listed at $800K).
            -- well thats already a bad start.

            The problem is the house is in a place I've literally never been to, because we're moving there (cross-country) in two weeks. I have no job because the university is in a hiring freeze. My husband's employment prospects are dicey at best (he's an entrepreneur starting a new company there). We saw the house over Zoom, so it was hard to get a sense of certain things, but I did absolutely love everything about it. Our novice real estate agent was pushing hard for us to put in an aggressive offer. As an aside, we already have a rental lined up, but figured we could sublet it if need be.
            -- do you not see the answer here already?

            Anyway, last minute, I bailed. The agent is not happy. My husband is upset. I know it was the sound financial decision, but what if interest rates go way up next year? What if another "perfect house" never comes on the market again? Also, I hate moving so much - and with a year lease, we'll have to do it again next year. Not easy with two kids under three.
            -- literally no such thing....

            Maybe just looking for reassurance from the savvy financial people here that I did the right thing.
            houses are things.
            you can break a lease you know.
            you did the right thing by not doing the very wrong thing.

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            • #7
              You made the right choice. Quit calling it the 'perfect' house because chances are that it wasn't. Being in a rush to buy a home in a place you've never been is the foundation for a poor major financial decision.

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              • #8
                Just sayin’..... You cannot tell if a house is perfect based on a bunch of glossy wide angle photos on a website. Just sayin’....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lakeswim View Post
                  We saw the house over Zoom, so it was hard to get a sense of certain things, but I did absolutely love everything about it. Our novice real estate agent was pushing hard for us to put in an aggressive offer.
                  The thought of buying a house that I have not seen in person is cringe-worthy. There are so many aspects of a poorly maintained home that would not show up on a zoom-tour but would throw up red flags when seen in person even if you pay a small bit of attention to finer details of a home.

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                  • #10
                    I once rented a place sight unseen (friend checked it out) but buy? No, never ever ever would do that. Be glad you dodged that bullet

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                    • #11
                      “I think I'm mostly just looking for reassurance. ”
                      One pat in the head. Good job !
                      Feel better?

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                      • #12
                        The lack of steady income should be an indication to not buy, even if you've seen the place.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the replies, all.

                          We're moving there to be closer to family, plus a lot of other reasons. I walked away from a great job during a pandemic to do this, but I feel like it was the right decision.

                          I do read a lot of posts on here about what is the straightforward "better" financial decision, but sometimes I do think it's more complicated that that. I see these posts from people who have millions of dollars thanks to conscientious savings, hard work, and good financial decisions, questioning decisions to improve their lifestyle because it costs money. I don't want to be that person (my dad is that person, so the tendency is there). I also think that living in a rental has its own drawbacks that are harder to quantify - you never feel rooted in a place. As a mom to two young kids, I really want to own my own home someday.

                          I know it sounds silly to want a pat on the head, but you have to understand I'm feeling pressure from all sides to buy this house! Honestly reading the posts here made me feel better about the decision, so thank you all for that.



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                          • #14
                            I think it can be helpful to discuss your feelings even if it is with a bunch of anonymous strangers. As others have said, you made the right call. It isn't forever but given your dicey job situation it will be less stress to not have a house that you rushed into. Don't worry about your agent's feelings. Your husband is allowed to be upset/disappointed. Your agent works for you and should respect your choice.

                            Moving twice sucks but you can do it. I agree with the post that you are worried due to fear of missing out. We've all been there that we talk ourselves into thinking this opportunity must be taken and is our only chance. It doesn't help when a pushy agent is encouraging that feeling.

                            I also agree some of us on this board prioritize saving excessively; I don't think your situation is an example of that behavior. You are avoiding a potential major financial mistake. Make sure the job works out. I don't know the details of your choice to move but until you have a stable situation it will be better to have flexibility.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lakeswim View Post

                              The problem is the house is in a place I've literally never been to, because we're moving there (cross-country) in two weeks. I have no job because the university is in a hiring freeze. My husband's employment prospects are dicey at best (he's an entrepreneur starting a new company there).
                              Don't rush these major life decisions. You will have a beautiful home for your family in due time. First find a job that you like, that is stable, with a steady paycheck, maybe for both you and your spouse, then start looking for another house. I know you will find a great one.

                              Buying a house without a job is quite difficult. In any case, you likely would not have been approved for the mortgage without a job. The only way to get approved for a mortgage without a job is to have very large assets that exceed the value of the house, which it sounds like you do not have. Or a cosigner with lots of excess income and assets.

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