Oct 11 2010

Peer pressure to buy a house?

I don’t know if this situation is common, so I’m gunna blog it and you can tell me your experience.

Over the last year or two, several of Shane’s coworkers have asked, “When are you going to buy a house?” and talk up all the benefits of home ownership.

We were briefly looking last year, thanks to the $8k tax credit. When Shane told them that after careful consideration, we decided we just couldn’t afford it — someone told him that she thought it was OK to “stretch” your budget just a bit to get into that house.

Orly? You can give us some money then, lady.

She was single and didn’t have kids, so maybe that wouldn’t be as risky for her.

It was almost a let-down to some of those coworkers when they found out we wouldn’t be buying. I don’t get what their vested interest would be in us having a mortgage. It’s not like they were offering to help pay for it, or to help us with repairs or maintenance or any of the other fun stuff they talked up.

And then there’s this other guy who has lately been asking Shane about when we’re going to buy. A big reason, of course, is we want to move back to Indiana (but of course he isn’t going to tell them that). So when he says that we’re going to wait a year or so until it’s more affordable for us, he’s met with comments like, “But interest rates are low!” and “It’s an investment!” and ” Rent is just throwing money away!” and the like.

Um, is this still 2007?

I don’t get what is up with this mild peer pressure.

And why isn’t “we can’t afford it” an acceptable answer? People can be so goofy.



15 Responses to “Peer pressure to buy a house?”

  1. AMEN! I know how you feel.
    Jes´s last post ..Wash- dry- fold- repeat

  2. Ugh. I’ve gotten similar peer pressure at work.

    Buy a house, buy a new car, go out to lunch with us every day. I don’t think it’s that they have a vested interest in other people’s spending habits as much as they want to justify their own poor financial management.

    When I first started at my last job, one of my co-workers was in the middle of a job search. Another one had just bought a condo. They wanted to know why my husband and I weren’t in the market for a house. I told them he was in graduate school, and we didn’t want to make that kind of commitment. They both said it was better to buy a house and live there for only 3 years than to live in an apartment for 3 years, even if you end up moving away.

    Well, coworker A ended up buying a house, and her husband was laid off a few months later. He was unemployed for months and months, and they didn’t have the option to move somewhere else for job opportunities because they were stuck in that house.

    Coworker B with the condo decided to move a few hours away for graduate school a year later. After struggling with her condo on the market for months, she ended up having to take on renters to avoid paying the mortgage on it.

    Sooo yeah. I’d say that most people’s excuses for why you MUST BUY A HOUSE NOW are pretty dumb. Especially if you can’t afford it or you’re not ready to settle down for the long term. People are dumb.
    Karen´s last post ..Break for gratitude

  3. Whoops. I said “job search” in the third paragraph, but I meant HOUSE search. Doh.
    Karen´s last post ..Break for gratitude

  4. Karen said, “I don’t think it’s that they have a vested interest in other people’s spending habits as much as they want to justify their own poor financial management.”

    YES.

    And it’s better to buy a house and live there for only 3 years, than to have the flexibility and lower expenses of renting?

    Wow. Right. Renting really isn’t that bad! I strongly suspect having a house and a mortgage ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Unfortunately, “home ownership” has long been touted as part of the American Dream. Well ya know what? I like not being broke. I like not living paycheck to paycheck.

  5. I think it’s so good you didn’t buy a house! I wish you could point to them all the good things that have come from NOT buying! ;)
    Mrs. Money´s last post ..Tips for a Green Halloween

  6. I think you’re right to wait until you’re ready. We were in a hurry to get our own house for several reasons, and now I’m a little jealous of friends who live in apartments on convenient bus routes, who can move anytime they please with only a security deposit at stake, whose rent and utilities are cheap, and who don’t have a yard to keep up. Yeah, I love our house and it is an investment, and eventually we will have something that is ours all ours to show for the housing money we’ve spent each month. But especially if you spend those last few years of renting saving up a nice down payment, I don’t see how jumping the gun on home ownership is better at all. And I’m one of the people who did it.

  7. Karen you totally got it just right! We do own a home, but people are asking us when we’re getting a BIGGER home. I think it’s in some people’s nature to think no matter what the topic is they are the authority and know best. There are just so many myths and people handle finances in different ways and it’s generally the poorly advised who feel like they need to give out a lot of advise.

    People look at me like I’m crazy when they complain about money and I suggest they eliminate x, y or z. It’s so engrained that TV, cell phones, vacations, eating out and keeping up appearances is the norm that deviation from that seems like failure instead of committment to success!

  8. I don’t understand why people still think it’s “normal” to buy and sell houses like cars – trade up early and often. Buy a house that you’ll be happy with for a long time, and don’t buy until you’re ready to stay in one place. People don’t believe us when we say that we’d like to retire in our home. We’re 25, love the area, and don’t plan on moving because we have strong roots here.

    But you’re right, peer pressure is all about making other people feel “good” about their bad decisions. I try to ignore it and get on with my own frugal life. :-)

  9. I can understand it. And to be honest… I’ve done it too. (Though hopefully it’s more of a passing comment and that no one feels I’m pressuring them!) I think sometimes I get excited, because buying a house IS exciting! But that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to do it.

    We were one of the last of our friends to buy. I felt the pressure not just to buy a house, but also buy a house in a certain neighborhood. I got a lot of comments like “you should check out the foreclosures in that fancy neighborhood”. I got so tired of people thinking foreclosures were the perfect solution. My experience with working with a bank and real estate is… don’t! I won’t ever buy a short sale or foreclosure again.

    Now I try to tell people my personal experience with houses. They are expensive! So be really careful when you buy. And don’t buy a new house and quit your job and have a baby all at the same time.
    ashley @ twentysixcats´s last post ..7 quick takes

  10. My husband and I faced similar pressure. We had been married almost a year when my sister’s fiance, now her husband, (who is a real estate agent on the side) mentioned that we should really look into buying a home. At the time, we HATED our apartment due to rising rent and extremely rude neighbors that lived above us, so we went ahead and bought a HUD home. We actually did get a pretty decent deal on it. However, six months after buying it, we succombed to pressure again from my dad who was at that time working for a mortgage company and needing some business. We decided to refinance our home and get a second mortgage to roll other smaller debts into one payment.

    Needless to say, this was all before we had even heard of Dave Ramsey or taken FPU, and we really knew nothing about finances or how to figure out what we really could afford. We learned so much about finances through that class, and I now personally feel that we never should have bought our house. Or at least, we never should have taken out the second mortgage. Because of our kids, we are down to one income now, and our mortage/2nd mortgage are killing us. I wish we had maybe explored the option of renting a home rather than buying one since it would have gotten us out of our apartment.

  11. I agree with Karen completely that it’s to justify their own decisions. I find this is also the case with other life decisions, including marriage, babies, graduate school, jobs, etc. People really like it when others do what they did, because it makes them feel better about themselves. But really, it can only annoy and make others feel they’re doing something wrong by not making those same decisions. Buying or doing something before you’re ready will only increase the chances that it’s not a good idea. :(
    Bethany B-A´s last post ..New alteration

  12. We had the same experience. For each time my wife was pregnant the common question was “when are you going to buy a house.” I guess people expect that to be the logical progression. But you have the right idea – you need to be able to afford it first and if you aren’t’ comfortable with the debt and expenses then you should wait.

    Yes, prices are low and interest rates are ridiculous but people were saying that a year ago too. You have to buy when you are ready.

  13. My husband and I have experienced the exact same questions and comments. We are homeowners; we’re just not living in that home. We’re renting in out in Indiana while we lease a home in Texas. It makes no sense to try to purchase another home when we have no idea when we can sell our current home. Despite the low interest rates, it’s not a good idea to buy a home when the property values continue to drop.

    We always tell people, “We have a house we’re waiting to sell before we buy another.” They tend to get it and let it be.

    Enjoyed your post!
    Melanie Ward´s last post ..New Theme- Spectrum

  14. I came across this when Googling “I feel pressured into buying a home.” I’m 35 and single with no prospects, yet everyone asks when I’m buying a home. Why? Yes, I would like a space of my own as a share with a housemate who has a very “active” social life. But does buying a home really make sense for a single person?

    And I just got a new realtor, because, yes, I’ve been looking because otherwise I’ll feel like a total failure. (No husband or home? Aww, poor Tamara…) My previous realtor took me to homes which were exactly what I was looking for and didn’t pressure me at all. Looking at houses with him was like getting a free pass to nose around other peoples homes with a friend. But he retired after a year of helping me. My new realtor showed me 5 homes on Friday, all of which were about $50,000 out of my comfort zone and asked me to decide right then which one. Granted the 4th one was beautiful and over the weekend I convinced myself I loved it, but it sold already.

    I seriously don’t think I’m home ready, but the rest of the world seems to disagree.

  15. Hi, I also googled pressure to buy a home and this came up and to be honest it’s been a complete eyeopener reading this, and it;s been reassuring to see that I’m not alone!

    I’m in the UK and here also people cannot help but try and subtely persuade us to ‘upgrade’ to a bigger home. We’ve recently had a baby and we are in a one bedroom home with a nice sized garden and plenty of storage space. We have worked hard over the last few years to retrain to work in jobs that are in line with our passions and its hugely rewardly. As such we have been happy to stay put in our one bed as it makes financial sense and allows us to be flexible as we don’t have massive overheads.

    It’s interesting though that the friends who always ask ‘when are you buying bigger’, ‘you need more space for the baby’, ‘you’ve got to think of the future’ are those that have hitched themselves to hugely large mortgages and are stuck in jobs that they loathe, but have to do just because they have bigger mortgages!

    For now, we share a room with our newborn and we intend to stay here until it’s financially viable to move – ie. when we have some equity and can afford the other costs. Incidentally, we bought the peak of the housing boom here and we ended up taking a bigger loan than the house was worth – which was quite popular at the time. So I totally agree with those that have already said to wait til you are really ready to buy as it’s costly!

    It’s really hard trying to justify our decisions to people that want to justify their actions by making us feel bad about having, in their eyes, less space, less stuff, less expensive cars, etc, etc, But in all honestly we’re happy. I know that it’s probably quite irritating for those around us that we do jobs we love, don’t need loads of material possessions and are happy living in a smaller home, but that’s just the way it is. I have often questioned our choices (espeically considering the number of people that question us), but recently I have come to realise that in society no matter what stage you are at in your life people are pushing to find out when you are ready to take the next step!

    I think it’s best just to try and zone out any peer pressure and from now on I will just answer – actually we are really happy with our lives and reel off the benefits of not deciding to jump into a financial situation that keeps us tied into the system any more that we need to be!

    :-)

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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