Homeownership remains a huge life landmark for many people, and it’s easy to see why. Owning a property comes not only with expense, it comes with a responsibility and commitment to living in a community, with less of the transience and flexibility that renting allows. However – as we’ll find out – many expenses involved are illusory, and the benefits of living in more stable and secure circumstances are numerous and add up to a greater quality of life. With rents on the rise and value for money decreasing it may be time to evaluate the upsides of buying a house as opposed to moving from lease to lease.
You’ll pay less per month
If you buy a property you will end up with less monthly outgoings. Usually, mortgage repayments are competitive with average rents in an area (depending on your mortgage and the initial down payment of course). But whilst rent prices increase year by year, if you take a fixed rate mortgage, the amount you pay back remains the same unless you choose to increase it. Even if your initial monthly outlays are more than the average rental costs in your area, to begin with, soon enough you’ll see that difference shrink and disappear. Another factor is tax – many of your expenses are tax deductible – these include property taxes, mortgage interest and any of the energy efficient fittings you may install.
Your dream home
Most renters will agree that one of the greatest frustrations they face living in rented accommodation is that they can’t modify or decorate their surroundings. Don’t like the wallpaper? Would the living room look better if you got rid of those carpets and put down wood or laminate flooring? Want to take down a wall to make the open plan living space of your dreams? If you’re renting, forget it. But if you own your property you can do as you please with renovations and interior design, not only to make your surroundings more comfortable but also to add value to your home.
Likewise furniture. You can buy just what you need (and often much less than what you will find crowding the average furnished rental property). You can streamline your space for efficiency, or max out on antiques or trendy modern pieces.
Stability and security
Assuming you keep up the repayments you agreed upon taking a mortgage, your home is precisely that, yours, until you decide to sell it and move on. Of course, we have contracts when we’re renting, but the ball is firmly in the landlord’s court when it comes to evictions – even if you’ve done nothing at all to warrant it! A landlord may choose to sell their property, and depending on the laws in your area, can often do so at the expense of you having somewhere to live.
It’s no fun having to move before you are ready, often at short notice or in inconvenient circumstances (my old landlord decided to sell up when my wife was seven months pregnant – not ideal at all!). Stability and security are crucial factors in turning a property from bricks and mortar into a place which feels like home. Homeowners are proven to move less often than renters, and long term living means everyone in your family, including your pets, feel the benefit of that stability.
Pets and prejudice
Speaking of pets, how many landlords are happy for you to take custody of a four-legged (or feathered, or scaly) friend? Not many. Even if you find a landlord who lets you keep a pet (let’s not forget a good landlord might be enough to tip the balance in favor of renting) when you come to move you will see your rental options dwindle considerably. But if you own your property you can channel your inner Ace Ventura, without limits to the menagerie you could acquire!
Owning a home usually means that you can gain a level of privacy not afforded to renters. In fact, studies show that 86% of renters agree that having a home of their own would mean they could live more privately, without shared walls, nightmare neighbors or busybody landlords sticking their noses into everything. Of course, neighbors can always cause a headache, but as homeowners tend to be more involved and sociable with the humans inhabiting their surroundings, they can use this to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of their neighbors and foster privacy and understanding this way, should it be necessary.
You can rent out your home
OK, the chances are that once you’ve gone to all the trouble of saving for a down payment, finding a property, organizing a mortgage and getting the deal done, you’ll want to live in your new home for a while. But more and more people are buying with the intention of renting, and although this is usually a trend associated with second property purchases, it can be a way to pay off your first mortgage quicker. Another way to help pay your monthly expenses, or to earn a bit of pocket money for yourself is to rent rooms or sections of your home to tenants. If you live in a city you can even rent out your driveway to commuters!
You’ll live in better housing
Rental property by definition sees a much higher turnover of people than with owned property. Wear and tear is part of the game, and allowances are usually made for it in lease agreements. Added to that, while it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property and the previous tenants’ responsibility not to make a huge mess, we don’t live in a perfect world. Therefore, if you move into a rental home you can expect a lower standard of decor and functionality, and (as mentioned above) you probably won’t be able to decorate or repair things without the landlord’s permission or supervision.
Because it provides security, stability and quality, enables renovation and of course, has financial incentives, owning your home seems like a no brainer – most see it as a definite goal to work toward. And on top of that, those very benefits feed into all aspects of your life, encouraging physical and mental health, settling your children (which in turn makes them perform better at school and feel happy at home) and making you more active in the community. And if you needed any further incentive you’ll be pleased to hear that you needn’t ever talk to a landlord again!
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