With the market for home buying getting back to normal (I’m sorry for all the “flippers” out there who are experiencing a return to normalcy), a lot of people are now getting ready to buy that house they want.

Buying a house makes good financial sense in most cases. The blogiverse is filled with arguments for and against, so I’m not going to re-hash them here. But just because something makes sense in MOST cases, does that mean it makes sense in ALL cases? Does a good sale price automatically equate to a good idea? My answer is no.

I think buying a house (home) should be a goal for most Americans. I’m sure it should be for other countries as well, but I don’t know the other countries’ housing situation. One of the reasons why the market is correcting itself now is because too many people who weren’t prepared bought a house anyways. Because they couldn’t afford to make a down payment, and because they didn’t want to pay PMI, they got into “alternative” financing (scams). “Alternative” to me, means shady when it comes to buying a house. The reaction was that prices went way out of control, and the sellers rejoiced because they were making money hand over fist. The problem was, eventually people wise up.

So now we have house prices going back to a reasonable level. In some cases, even going below a realistic level. So people are out there trying to buy the house.

For my audience, teens and young adults, I think doing this is a mistake. First, I think there is a level of maturity and experience that one needs to have to be a homeowner that most young people just don’t have yet. I’m not going to go into all the associated financial costs of homeownership, but there are plenty. What I will talk about is the common sense stuff that makes a good argument to waiting before you buy.

1. If you have never lived away from home, it may surprise you to learn that Mom and Dad won’t be there to do everything for you once you buy a house. If you have rented before, there won’t be a landlord that you can call up to fix every broken pipe. Guess who that leaves? You guessed it, you are on the hook for all of it.
– Do you know how to replace a toilet? Do you know how to fix a sqeaky floor? You will have to. The alternative is to hire someone to do this for you, but many people find that shilling out hundreds of thousands of dollars on a place to sleep makes them pretty frugal.

2. I’ve done some pretty heavy work in my life, but I’ve never had to replace stucco. I’ve never had to paint the outside of a house, or replace a roof.
-You want to have some pride in where you live. This is, afterall, your home. If it starts deteriorating, you look bad as a homeowner. These are really big expenses.

3. Paying rent may be throwing money down the drain, but buying a house simply because you can afford to do so is surely more so. When I was younger, I could afford a small house in the really bad part of a really bad town, buy why would I? I would hate where I lived, and if I ever decided to make the step to become a landlord and rent the place out myself, I would only be opening myself up to a whole new world of woe. Its one thing to rent a place in a crappy part of town, because– you’re only renting. Its a whole other story to have actually bought into a really crappy part of town.

There are, of course, other reasons, but these are pretty substantial by themselves. My advice, rent a place that you can easily afford, while you put away some money for a down payment. Learn all you can about home repair and maintenance. Research places that you really want to live. Find out as much as you can about them, and when you have the experience, and the money to do so, reevaluate at that time.

  1. I’ve never understood why someone who can afford to buy a home would rather rent. Forget all the regular reasons why a person should own a home. The primary factor is someday you will be a senior citizen and want to retire. Who would like to have a zero mortgage in retirement? We all would. That’s reason enough for me.

  2. Wil says:

    Well, I can’t speak for everybody, but I look at it like this: I could put in a lot of money for something that is okay, and live in a house instead of a home for 30 years. I would rather wait till I find a place that I really love to spend these years.

    Also, when I first moved away from home, I knew NOTHING about what it was like to live away from home. I broke all sorts of stuff trying to fix it. When I finally find the house I’m looking for, I know a lot more about houses in general, and I will be able to save money in the long run because I will be able to do a lot more by myself.

    Seriously, thank you for reading and commenting. Your point about zero mortgage in retirement is well taken. I think most teenagers and young adults may not be thinking of this yet, but they really should think about it sooner than later.

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