Everyone tells you you’re going places, and of course, you believe them. You’re 26. You’re a supervisor at a multi-national marketing company. You get a six-digit pay monthly. What’s more, it looks like you’re headed for greater and bigger things in the company hierarchy. Do all these mean you should get a house?
Mortgage lenders would be the first to tell you owning a house is good, and it is – in principle. In fact, owning a house is a great way to build wealth over time. What mortgage lenders don’t tell you, however, is that this does not mean everyone should be a homeowner. Homeownership entails a lot, not just monthly payments. You’d have to be dedicated to home improvements, for example, and you’d have to faithfully discharge your debts on time to your mortgage lender. So, if any of the following is your reason for wanting to buy a home, do not contact your mortgage lender just yet. Sit down, lean back, and read on.
1. A house is a solid investment.
Yes, a house is a great way to build wealth over time; and yes, you put your money to good use when you buy a house. However, if it’s only good investment you’re after, there are better ways of doubling – even tripling – your money’s worth. Stocks, for example, have an average appreciation that exceeds the inflation rate by at least seven percentage points.
Then, too, as mortgage lenders know, the value of homes could seesaw along the dollar scale. For example, real estate value nosedived in the 1990s. It took ten years for Los Angeles homes to regain their valuation. If you just bought a home and this happened, you could end up owing a bigger mortgage than your home could be sold for.
2. Paying rent is akin to throwing money away.
Is it? Rent is the money you pay for a place to stay. It’s way cheaper than monthly house payments. In some cities, in fact, rent is so cheap there seems to be no point in owning a house. If not wanting to pay rent is your only reason for buying a house, you’ve no business calling your mortgage lender. Many people stretch their finances too tautly to buy houses. They end up getting loans with exotic terms from predatory mortgage lenders. Then, as the real estate market takes a heavy beating, what had once seemed like reasonable payments become onerous. Finances are shot in the foot, and you end up not just delinquent with the payments to your mortgage lender, but also faced with the possibility of losing your home. It’s true renters are confronted by the rising cost of rental and belligerent landlords. Homeowners are not spared these problems, however. They have rising taxes, maintenance costs, and difficult neighbors.
3. I need a tax deduction.
This is the silliest reason among all reasons you could come up with for needing a mortgage lender. True, the tax break is nice, and you also need somewhere to live. But crunch the figures carefully before deciding you need a mortgage just to avail of write-offs. Here’s the real deal: your write-off is directly proportionate to your tax bracket. If you’re in the top federal tax bracket, every dollar you pay in mortgage interest only saves you 35 cents in taxes. Clearly, getting a house from a mortgage lender just to get a tax break is akin to giving someone a dollar in exchange for 35 cents or even less – if you belong to the 25% tax brackets or lower!
Homeownership is a good way to grow money and roots at the same time. Just because almost everyone you know wants to be a homeowner doesn’t mean you should be one, too.