South Bend Home Loan

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

You Have To Feed The Puppy

About two years ago, my daughter Jessica got puppy fever.  I blame it on our next door neighbor who got an adorable little black cockapoo.  It yipped a lot, but man was that dog cute.

But I digress…So Jessica had a case of puppy fever, and it was bad.  She knew the family rule though – if you want it, you save for it and buy it with your own money – so she did just that.  Week by week, she set aside her allowance until she finally had just enough money to cover the adoption fee for a rescue dog.  With her hard earned savings in a little Ziploc bag, she came to us with overflowing happiness believing that now now NOW she could finally have the doggie she wanted so much.

It’s moments like that that make my heart swell and break all at once.  I was so proud of her for working so hard for her goal and saving every penny she had to get that puppy, but I still had to ask her an important question “And how are you going to feed the puppy?”

Jessica’s face crashed in a second and tears started to bubble.  She’d worked for weeks and weeks to save up the money to get the puppy, but she hadn’t given any thought to taking care of it once she had it.  Seeing that realization hit her, I was hit with a realization of my own - My 10 year old daughter was very similar to my first time buyers.

I’ve worked with hundreds of first-time homebuyers through the years.  Much like my Jessica, they get incredibly motivated and excited about obtaining their goal. They want a home of their own and they work feverishly to save the money needed to make that dream come true.  Most of the time, though, they don’t think about the cost of actually owning the home beyond the basic mortgage payment.  They forget that they will need to ‘feed the puppy’. 

Being a good mom means asking the question, and so does being a good mortgage lender.  When I see my clients having to stretch so far just to get into the home, I have to raise the question of whether they will be able to take care of the home once they own it.  Just like puppies need food, homes need maintenance – shingles instead of shots, filters instead of flea collars - but additional ongoing costs, none-the-less.

Knowing this, I raise the question.  Being a good mom or mortgage lender doesn’t stop at asking the question though.  I also need to help build the answer.  Jessica and I sat down and figured out additional chores she could do to contribute to the cost of the puppy's maintenance.  Likewise, my homebuyers and I talk about the importance of a home maintenance fund and a home improvement fund.  We talk about budgeting and buying below their ceiling so that there is room in the family finances to take care of their home after they own it.
After we worked out a plan, Jessica got her puppy.  Cotton has brought a great deal of joy to our household in the two years since and, for the most part, Jessica has continued doing what she committed to do to contribute to the care of her dog. 

As for my first time buyers?  I can only pray that they also stick to the budgetary commitments they made to themselves so that they can care for their home and enjoy the pleasures of it for years to come.  Feed the puppy, take care of the home, and one can reap the joys for a lifetime.