August 2009: Net Worth Update and House Buying Plans
Published 8/31/09 (Modified 3/8/11)
The month of August 2009 is going to go down as a particularly momentous period in my life. It's going to be the month that I finally pulled the trigger and made the decision to purchase my very first home. While the actual date of my contractual signing will likely be dragged out until the first or second week of September as things currently stand - it was during the last few weeks of August when most of my major home purchasing decisions were rapidly set in motion.
The last few years have been quite the whirlwind for me. I know on this personal finance blog I may frequently portray a sense of stability and perhaps frequently offer up an air of someone who appears to know exactly where he wants to be in life and knows exactly how to get there - but the reality is quite far from it. I've been blessed with an incredible amount of luck, remarkable timing, and good fortune - with much of my financial success starting only a few years ago when I first started blogging online to make some extra cash on the side. My early attempts at trying to make money money blogging started rather surreptitiously without much fanfare and without the knowledge of most of my friends and family. Through the struggles and early process of starting my very first blog, I developed and honed a variety of entrepreneurial skills that I ultimately leveraged into the start of my own fledgling legal practice as a part time attorney. While I had saved a sum of money through my past jobs of working for other people shortly after graduating from law school, it wasn't until after I had started working for myself and began to pursue my dream of starting my own small firm and online business that I began generating the type of income that I enjoy today. I guess it goes to show that even in a down economy, with some practical skills and a very healthy dose of chance, it is still possible to find a silver lining if one is willing to consider alternative possibilities and take a leap of faith on a dream.
My Current Net Worth and Financial Status Update Compared To Last Month
Closing In On The Purchase Of My Very First Home - A Long Time Coming
I started my home search in early May 2009, but didn't start devoting serious time towards scouting out locations and visiting open houses until late June 2009. Because I work from my home office and much of my various self automated businesses are able to run themselves without active supervision for reasonably lengthy periods of time, I was able to pull myself away from work and spend a great deal of time in recent months searching for my future dream home in the Washington D.C./ Baltimore area.
As a single guy, who's dating, with no family as of yet and not anticipating one anytime soon for at least the next 5 years - instead of focusing on school districts, I concentrated on finding an upscale semi-rural community located in very close proximity to stores and restaurants, that not only offered the sleepy feel of a farming town but also offered the transportation conveniences of a major suburban center. Because I work from home, work location was not an important consideration for me. However, proximity to major highways and multiple access points to both D.C. and Baltimore City were important factors to me as both areas are places I frequently visit for social and familial reasons. In terms of price, I made the decision early on that I would not be restricted to a certain price cap - as what I was looking for was fair value, with the potential for future upside. I decided at the start that I would be willing to pay a hefty premium for a high end location in an extremely safe neighborhood and that I would not be willing to pigeon hole my preferences into a less than desirable neighborhood for the sake of price savings alone.
After months of searching, I finally found my dream home in my dream location - a brand new, pre construction, perfectly sized (2500 square feet above grade) single family home with 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, located in an excellent upscale community close to all of the transportation conveniences I desired. While the house is close to powerlines (depending on whether you think 350 yards away is considered close), the home offers everything else I could ever want in a first time starter home situated in a strategically located D.C. / Baltimore area location. While I had considered the prospect of pursuing a lower priced new construction townhouse, ultimately, I felt a single family home offered better recoupment possibilities in terms of future resale upside.
With the assistance of my real estate agent, we are now imminently close to an official signing date. Unfortunately, negotiations don't seem to be proceeding as well in my favor. While I had hoped to be able to negotiate the listing price down or secure better builder incentives towards option upgrades, the listing agent has thus far refused to budge. However, this refusal on the part of the builder to negotiate the price down can probably be attributed to the fact that the demand for upscale housing in my desired location is currently outstripping the available supply (rather opposite as to what's happening in most other parts of the country). Despite this, I will probably still go through with the purchase in the next few days, barring any unforeseen hiccups.
Time For Me To Start Investing In The Stock Market Again Via ETF's and Mutual Funds
For several months now, I've been holding the vast bulk of my discount brokerage account funds in cash form. As I liquidated the bulk of my stock market holdings early on (it really wasn't a whole lot) to avoid the stock market crash of early 2009, I consequently missed out on the frantic rally of March 2009 that has since seemingly continued to soar. However, I don't plan to miss the next major leg up - whenever that may happen.
With economic indicators now indicating faint glimmers of distant hope with better than expected statistical improvements in employment numbers, corporate profitability, and new housing constructions, I think this may finally be the time to get back in. While the stock market can certainly go down further from here (a W shape recovery as many CNBC pundits are calling it), I personally am no longer gripped in utter fear of the same cataclysmic multi-decade economic depression and financial Armageddon scenario that many had been so fearful of back in the early part of 2009.
In the coming months, I will probably start watching out for investment opportunities as they arise - focusing my efforts on broadly traded exchange traded funds (ETF's) like the financial ETF (XLF), the S&P500 ETF Index (SPY), and possibly even the China 25 Index (FXI). Yes, I am quite well aware that the funds I'm looking at are regarded as aggressive investments, but with at least 30+ more years until my planned retirement, at this point I am seeking earnings upside rather than safety or stability (particularly now that the worst case scenario has seemingly passed). Serious issues like inflationary pressures due to the ever ballooning governmental deficit, market correction risks, and future interest rate increases by the Fed will probably result in a great deal of stock market volatility down the road, but I see the possibility of spikes and dips as prospective speed humps rather than serious causes for concern. Thoughts?