Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Playing Monopoly With Real Money

Homeownership is part of the American Dream.  And since doing things in excess is the American way, what could be more American than owning two homes?  A while ago I decided to pursue buying a second house due to several reasons: low interest rates, a fallen housing market, and an insatiable desire to have some place to stay if I accidentally run over the neighbor's dog, or they make the horrendous mistake of looking into my window as I'm walking to the laundry room for some underwear after taking my shower and finding my drawer empty.

I must say that having bought a house before the second time around is much less daunting.  It's kind of like having kids.  The first time there are so many questions.  Will I really love it?  Will it live up to its potential?  What if I'm not ready for this responsibility?  The second time around you just hope it comes out healthy and doesn't cost you too much.  I'm speaking of course mainly from my experience shopping for houses, as I have no children of my own.  I was a child once, however, and can say from experience as the third born that by the time child number three comes along there's nothing new or exciting any more.  It's like "Hey mom, look at me, I'm riding my bike with no hands!", and mom's like "That's nice, that stopped being new 7 years ago.  Let me know when you can ride standing on the seat."  Supercross was invented by younger siblings trying to find ways to get their parents' attention.

But back to the house buying.  I was really hoping to find a home on a street named Park Place, Boardwalk, or even Pennsylvania Avenue, as I figure I could charge higher rents there, but the potential home I found is on a more pedestrian street.  Heather and I will hopefully be taking a walk-through in the next couple of days.  Then we will have to make the big decision. 

The idea of having a rental property that is paid for by someone else seems enticing, but taking on tens of thousands of dollars of debt is a bit discomforting.  I can only hope that owning a rental property isn't as tiring as looking for one has been.  I have found you can be much more selective when buying an investment property that you don't really have to have compared with buying a home to move into.  When shopping for a house to live in, friends and family will only let you live in their basements for so long, forcing you into a decision.  When buying an investment property there's nothing forcing you to pull the trigger but sheer willpower.  You're left wondering whether you're making a good decision.  I'm not particularly attractive and have zero social skills, but I like to think of myself as fairly intelligent, as we all have to have one piece of driftwood to hang onto in the sea of life, but making a huge decision like this can make you question yourself even if you're fairly confident in your mental competence.  Hopefully 20 years from now I will look back on this time with the joy of a parent who's child has grown into a fine young adult, and not the regret of Lindsey Lohan's parents.