The truth is, buying a house might not be right for you. Today I am going to demystify the American dream — because home ownership is not for everyone. But first I want to say, if buying a home is your dream - go for it. But go for it with open eyes knowing all the facts.
For years we have been told that the American dream is to graduate from college, start a great career, get married, and buy a home. These are all great things. (I have done every single one of them.)
But I don't necessarily think that they're all key to your happiness. They don't certainly define who you are as a person, right? You're defined by so much more than that. And if not careful, some of those things, while they seem like a blessing, can very quickly turn into a burden. Especially home ownership.
We bought our home in 2014 and will own it outright in a few short years, but I don't necessarily think that buying a home is the right decision for everyone.
I think that there are seasons of your life when it is the right time, and there are times when it is not. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we bought a house. Not the right time. But being a little bit older, and parents to children, and steady in our careers, with a home base, it was the right time.
I wanted to give you a few things to consider before you decide to buy a house.
1. The first is to consider hidden costs.
It is really easy to get into the idea that renting is throwing money away. I don't think that is true. My husband and I rented for a very long time and it ended up being a wonderful experience for us.
We actually saved money while we were renting. When we moved down here, it became hard to find a quality place to live for the rent that we wanted to pay. So for us, it did make financial sense to buy. But for a lot of people, it just doesn't.
You can't necessarily compare a mortgage with rent because there are so many hidden fees.
For example, taxes, insurance and if you live in a subdivision, you're going to pay a homeowners' association.
2. Home repairs fall on you
We put a new roof on our house shortly after we moved in, and we replaced the majority of our plumbing and all of our appliances, including our air conditioner. But when we sat down and we did the math on that, we still came out cheaper than what our rent would have been. That's not the case for everyone.
You can expect to spend 1-2% of your home value every year on repairs. (source)
That can be thousands of dollars a year on repairs and upkeep. I don't recommend always DIY'ing those. There are a few things that we DIY'ed, like wall repair. Our plumber cut a hole in our wall and didn't replace it. We had patch it up ourselves. That's obviously something we can do. But when it came to electrical work, we hired that out. You don't want to DIY something and then it turned out to be more costly because you need it to be repaired. If it's something that's going to require a permit, don't DIY it. If it's something that is potentially dangerous, like electrical work, don't DIY it. If it's something that you know absolutely nothing about, don't DIY it.
One of the things that rent gives you that home ownership doesn't is a little bit more flexibility.
If your job suddenly changes, you will have to break your lease and possibly pay fine, but you can still leave. Whereas if our job situation suddenly changed, we would have to sell our home. The good thing is, where we live, that's not so much a problem. This is a very desirable area. People want to buy homes.
3. Ownership lacks flexibility
For years we were told that home ownership was a great investment. I think that, in the right circumstances, it can be. But not everyone is in the right circumstances.
If you're going to live somewhere ten years or longer, then yes, consider buying. If you can save up and afford a down payment, yes, consider buying. If you live in a highly desirable area where you know that you will be able to sell your home fairly quickly, then, yes, consider buying.
If you're considering buying a home because your realtor friend told you to, or all of your other friends are, or your mom thinks it's a great idea, you might want to do some market research in the area for yourself.
What about you? I’d love to know what you think.