Why Zillow is the Easiest Way to Torture Yourself


When I’m dreaming big and feel like torturing myself, I look at Zillow.I think someday I want to own a house, though it will be a very long time until I do.

However, I still can’t help but look at homes on the market. I tell myself I’m just keeping myself informed on the market. That excuse is total bullshit.

Related: My Debt Journey

The Dream to Own a House

In reality I’m not totally sure I want to own a home. However, I’m partly programed to dream about it and so I fantasize about owning a home one day.

It’s the American dream right? The house, the dog, the comfy 9-5? It’s what we’re all supposed to want right?

Except, I’ve already figured out the 9-5 isn’t for me. Sure I got the dog, I love my dog. But a house?

I love the idea of having my own place and being able to do whatever I want with it, but a house is sooo much work. I struggle keeping up with life as it is, adding on homeownership to that pile seems like it might be too much.

So I often wonder, is this dream of whole ownership really something I want? Or is it just that it been the programing for everyone? I’m guessing I won’t know until I own a home. At which point if it turns out I don’t love homeownership, I’ll SOL. Fortunately, I won’t have to deal with those questions for a while.

The Reality of the Homeownership and Student Debt

It’s not that it’s impossible to buy a home when you have student debt it is just that it can be harder. One of the factors in determining if you are eligible for a loan is your debt to income ratio.

Debt to income ratio is the amount of your income that has to go towards debt payments. Now this can get a little tricky when you are on an income-driven repayment plan, like I am. Since the payments are based on my income and not how much I actually owe.

How Student Debt Can Impact Your DTI

However, some companies will require that your debt to income ratio be calculated based on the standard repayment amount of your loans. Ideally, mortgage lenders want you to have a DTI less than 40%.

If you have a ton of student debt, like I do, then it’s not hard to exceed that 40% DTI. Now, depending on the lender and the state of the rest of your finances, and a whole other host of factors, you may be able to qualify for a loan using the payment amount under your IDR payment plan. However, just because you can get a loan, doesn’t mean you should.

It’s going to be up to you to determine if doubling your debt is worth it to you and aligns with your values.

I’m not saying it’s a horrible idea at least that debt would put a roof over your head rather than a piece of paper on your wall. I just know it’s not something in the realm of possibility for me right now.

Related: Can I Really Afford to Buy a House

The “I just want to stay informed about the market” Excuse

If you won’t be buying a house in the next year, you aren’t keeping your eye on the market, you are torturing yourself. I know, I do it all the time.

Yes, you want to be informed so that you can figure out how much you need to save for a down payment. However, once you have an idea of what you need to save, stop looking. When you are working on saving the money, you do not need to keep looking at real estate sites. It just leads to you dreaming of houses you cannot afford yet.

The “I want to stay informed” about the market by looking at those kinds of sites is just another way of yearning after what the Joneses have.

Related: Why You Should Stop Reading Headlines

You Shouldn’t Look at Zillow or Realtor or any other Home Buying Site Until You are Getting Ready to actually Buy a House

Unless you are actually getting ready to take the step towards homeownership, stop fantasizing about the shiny objects that are houses you can’t afford.

When you should actually start looking depends on lots of factors but the first should be that you are serious about getting a house. However, if you would prefer to torture yourself, go ahead and spend hours on sites like Zillow or Trulia or Realtor, be my guest. I’ll probably see you there. 

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  1. I do this all. the. time. I can’t stop it! Lately I’ve been looking at Zillow to scope out rentals (I’m doing another cross-country move next year), but it inevitably turns into searches for homes.
    Me and my husband did a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure last year and we definitely will NOT be in a place to buy a home for years, even if we had the means to afford it (which we don’t). So I don’t know why I keep looking. Glad to know I’m not alone, though!

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