Everyone Deserves a Home. That’s our mission as a company. Homeownership is both a right and a privilege but is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. At times renting is the best choice for some people depending on their circumstances. I say this because as we work with new buyers looking for their first home I realize that they don’t always understand what it means to own a house.
Often the focus is on price and monthly payments. If it is close to or lower than a rent payment it seems like a no brainer. Yet there is a lot more to consider before deciding that homeownership is the best choice. There will be utilities to pay. You will have an electric bill, maybe a water and sewer bill, trash pickup, fuel, phone and internet, maybe cable or satellite TV. And don’t forget those taxes and insurance. Can you afford those expenses?
Once you determine if those expense will fit into your budget, think further out. Maintaining a house is paramount to maintaining it’s value. If you happen to have your own septic system, know that it will need to be pumped every few years. Water from a well may require a softener or filter of some sort. Things get old and wear out. Appliances, light fixtures and larger items such as your furnace or boiler. Water heaters don’t last forever. Even electrical outlets get old. A house gets worn simply by people living there. Pets and kids can be especially hard on a house. Walls and trim may need a fresh coat of paint every few years, carpets wear out, floors get damaged or old.
Keeping your house updated will also help to hold or improve your home’s value. Avocado green and Harvest gold used to be the ‘in’ colors but not so much anymore. Light blue and mauve is almost impossible now to believe it was ever popular. Have you priced paint lately? It’s expensive. Are you handy or do you need to hire out most of the work needed? If you aren’t handy, it might be a good idea to become so.
Now let’s think long term. Everything has a lifespan. How long will that roof last? Is it slate or shingle? Can you afford to repair the roof if it starts to leak? Do you have any idea how much it would cost to replace one? That price alone is scary enough yet is all part of the requirements of owning and caring for a home. That furnace or boiler will come to the end of its life too at some point. And appliances aren’t made like they used to either. They just don’t last 30 years anymore.
Too often I find myself in a conversation with a potential seller that has not been able to maintain their home properly because they just did not have the funds to do so. Many times they are elderly and on a fixed income. Sometimes they are younger with no savings, living paycheck to paycheck. Now they find themselves having to sell that house yet can not get the price they need to in order to pay off their mortgage or to move on because their house needs too much work. This will cost the seller time and money. Time sitting on the market waiting for someone to be ok with the condition of the house and money as the value has dropped. Most buyers these days, despite what you see on HGTV do not want to do any work. Buyers are not willing to take on someone else’s deferred maintenance without a hefty reduction in price.
So you say you want to own your own house? I say, yes you do, but walk carefully toward your goal with your eyes wide open. Ask lots of questions. Think it through. Talk to your favorite Realtor. Save your money so you have a cushion for any unexpected expenses or repairs. Then proceed with your search and keep an open mind. Perhaps you’ll find a nice fixer upper or one that might only need cosmetic work – painting, small repairs, etc. Your Realtor will advise you to have a property inspection – do it, no matter the cost. Will be worth every dime if only to give you a good punch list of items for you to work on yourself.
Home ownership is a right and a privilege and everyone deserves a home. Make sure that your home ownership is a source of pride and joy for you and your family.