Dear Friends Who Are Not Homeowners,
I love you. I love your leaky faucets and your wacky room layouts. I love your stark white walls and your durable stain-resistant carpets. I love your visitor parking spaces and your basement window views.
But most of all, I love you.
I love you so much that I’m going to ask – nay, beg – that you think long and hard before you buy a house/condo/duplex/townhouse/acreage/walkout/treefort.
I know, I know – house prices are currently much lower than when idiots (me) bought their homes five years ago. And I know, I know – interest rates have been historically low, and looming threats suggest this could end at any second, and you feel pressure to grab on while you can.
Don’t. Do. It.
Wait, let me rephrase that. Don’t do it unless the number one reason you want to buy a home is that you’ve found a neighbourhood you can see yourself living in as a senior citizen. Because, given how long mortgages are these days, that may well be the case.*
I know people say renting is a waste of money.
Since when is it a waste of money to put a roof over your head?
These same people say you need to build equity.
Let me tell you how much equity I have – almost none. Due to down payment mortgage rules I was only sort of listening to and, obviously, still don’t understand, I have a few thousand dollars worth of equity – after five long years of paying an astronomical sum each month. There are other things you can rely on instead of equity. Like a silly little thing called savings, for example.
And please, please don’t listen to people who tell you owning a home is a financial investment.
That’s antiquated advice. Maybe it was a guaranteed investment for your parents – who paid for their home then what you pay for an SUV today – but not for you.
My dear renting friends, I’m clearly not equipped to give you financial advice.** But I do have a little more life experience (mistakes) and so I can say this with complete sincerity: only buy a home if it’s a lifelong dream. Only buy a house if it’s your number one childhood goal, right up there with playing the bongos in a Reggae band or winning an Olympic gold medal in that weird dancing horse sport called dressage.
Oh wait, there is only one more good reason to buy a house. It’s this: you want to relieve an unwed mother of her burdensome now-35 year mortgage on a condo she purchased during the height of the boom, and will probably never see what she paid for it.
In that case, have I got a deal for you. Call me.
* I have 24 stairs in my condo. The thought of climbing these stairs at 68 years old (when my mortgage amortizes) is really, really, really depressing.
**For great advice from someone who does know something, click here. Rob Carrick’s take on renting and home ownership is a refreshing voice of reason.