This is a guest post from MD of Studenomics. A personal finance blog for 20-somethings that want to kill debt, make some cash, and enjoy life. If you like the article, please consider subscribing for free updates.
In the North American society it’s no secret that owning a home has become apart of life. For many years the adage that, “renting is throwing away money,” was rarely challenged. As young people graduated from college and went through their twenties, buying a home simply became apart of life. Well, that is until the recent mortgage and real estate problems. Now the 20-something crowd is starting to challenge the home ownership axiom. Young people are worried about all of the mortgage crisis and all of the recession talk. Now buying a home doesn’t seem like the greatest idea.
Listen, I know I’m just some random blogger dude behind a computer screen. I can’t make the largest (or one of) decisions in life for you. However, I do feel good knowing that I can at least influence your decision or give you something to think about before you sign over the mortgage papers:
How stable is your job?
Buying a piece of real estate won’t completely kill your flexibility, but it will come pretty close to doing so. I don’t like giving financial advice to friends (you know all the legalities and stuff), but when someone asks me about buying a home, I ask the same question: how steady is your current job?
As a 20-something in today’s economy there’s no telling where you could end up tomorrow, a week from now, or a few months from now. Gone are the days of life long jobs and mega corporations never going down. Anything can happen. I don’t want to scare you. I just want you to open your eyes.
Then there’s your side of the stable job equation. How much longer do you see yourself working in the same company? Perhaps you’re sick of the job and are waiting to get out. You could be looking to leave the company and venture out on your own. You could even be looking to do some long term travel in the near future. The options are endless. Just because you have a job today it doesn’t mean that you’ll have one next week.
Key takeaway point: Consider your job stability before you decide on where you’ll establish home base.
How much money do you really have?
How much money do you really have for a mortgage down payment? Okay you have 30 grand. That’s cool, but do you realize how much of that 30 grand will actually go towards your mortgage down payment? Not a whole lot. Once you factor in the cost of a lawyer, real estate agent, moving costs, and relevant property taxes, you’ll realize that your 30 grand didn’t go all that far.
You need to take a realistic lo0k at your financial situation to decide if buying a home is right for you. Many young people don’t like the fact that they have a large lump sum of cash in the bank, so they feel the need to invest in tangible assets. Unfortunately, many home ownership costs are often overlooked and a decision is based without knowing all of the facts. At the very least, check mortgage rates to see how affordable buying a home really is.
Key takeaway point: Don’t assume that all of your savings will go towards the mortgage down payment.
What is the price difference between rent and mortgage?
This is usually the deciding factor for anyone that is on the edge of buying a home. If there’s a minor difference between all home ownerships costs (and I mean ALL) and rent, then the option of buying becomes very attractive. Unfortunately, many potential home-owners only look at the cost of rent and the cost of the monthly mortgage payment. All relevant home ownership costs need to be considered: mortgage, property taxes, maintenance fees, moving costs, potential repair costs, and insurance. Once you have considered all of the proper costs, you make a more educated decision on the largest purchase of your life.
Many of my readers from the Bay Area have made it clear that the difference between renting and buying is astronomically in favor of renting. In my opinion, it really depends on the area you want to live in. Nobody knows about your area better than you do.
Key takeaway point: Keep a close eye on the difference between rent and ownership costs when making your decision.
I hope I’ve provided 20-somethings with some food for thought when it comes to making a decision on home ownership. For further reading on real estate in your twenties check out my 2,00o word post comparing renting to owning a home.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.