My Roanoke Nightmare: Why Buying More House Than You Can Afford Is a Bad Idea

how much house can I afford?

If you’re a fan of American Horror Story, you know this season is crazier than ever. So far we’ve seen a creepy pig man, missing children, and murderous settlers. It’s been gory, gross, and disturbing, which means My Roanoke Nightmare viewers are satisfied and dying for more.

But even the most die-hard horror fan have to wonder why anyone would stay in that haunted house after episode one. It’s now several episodes in, and Shelby and Matt are still there.

Their rationale for staying is actually a significant financial cautionary tale. If you’ve asked yourself, “How much house can I afford?” American Horror Story should make you run the numbers again.

Here are the home-buying lessons we’ve learned so far from Shelby and Matt’s mistakes.

Don’t fall in love with a house

Matt and Shelby were going through a lot when they stumbled across the old house built in 1792. Matt had survived an assault and Shelby miscarried her baby. They were emotional and desperate for a change.

So when they saw this grand, abandoned house, they got swept up by it. Even when there were warning signs — like glaring hillbillies — they were blinded by the idea of the house.

When you’re shopping for a home, it’s easy to romanticize the process. But home-buying is, first and foremost, a business transaction. It’s important to remain objective and make a decision based on practicality rather than gut feelings.

Don’t sign anything without doing research

When the hillbillies tried to outbid them at auction, Matt and Shelby got competitive and bid impulsively. They did not bother to do any research on the house or the area. If they had, they would have found dozens of families who went missing and murders that occurred in the home.

No matter how lovely a home is, do a background check on the house. Even if you aren’t bothered by the idea of someone dying in your home, there are other concerns to look for.

For example, your dream home could have been previously used as a drug manufacturing facility or was a common location for crime. Those things can have lasting consequences that won’t show up on a typical home inspection.

You can do an internet search for your address to see if there have been any events in your potential home. It’s important to note, though, that if your home was the scene of a tragedy, the address is sometimes changed. You can check out your town’s historical society for information about your location.

Don’t use all of your savings

When Matt and Shelby outbid the hillbillies, they spent all $40,000 of their savings to buy the house. So when horrible events started happening, they felt trapped. If they fled the home, they knew they couldn’t resell it, and they’d have no money to start somewhere else.

When a woman calling herself “the butcher” appeared and threatened them, they rationalized it away. When a ghostly little girl talked to their niece and said they were going to die, they dismissed it. Even when a guy wearing a pig head appeared in the shower, they refused to leave because they’d lose everything.

Using up all of your savings to buy a home is never a good idea, even when you’re not dealing with the supernatural. If you have to empty out your emergency fund to buy the house, that’s a good sign you’re stretching yourself too thin.

Being house-poor is a huge strain on you, and if you’re in a relationship it can put a lot of stress on your partnership. Worrying about money is a quick way to cause fights and distrust.

As Matt and Shelby found, buying a house is expensive. After the purchase price, there are other costs you may face. You may need to pay for a new roof, replace the hot-water heater, or pay a psychic $25,000 to find your lost niece.

Before settling on a new home, make sure you have an emergency fund set aside. That way, if things pop up, you can handle it without going broke.

How much house can I afford?

My Roanoke Nightmare is completely crazy, but the message is still clear: Buying too much house is a bad life decision. It can leave you financially and emotionally destroyed.

Many people ask “How much house can I afford? without thinking about how much house they actually need. Buying less than the bank approves you for will ensure you have plenty of wiggle room, and building an emergency find before home-shopping will give you the necessary cushion.

If you’re proactive and cautious before buying a home, you will be prepared for whatever comes next. And if that means costly repairs after a demon ransacks your home, you can handle it (or get a hotel).

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Published in Buying a House, How to Manage Money Wisely