Why Own a Home ?

spanish style houseRedfin asked a simple question on Facebook: What is the BEST reason to own a home?

The choices:
A. No landlord
B. Peace of mind
C. Investment
D. Decorating/home design

I’ve gone through buying, owning, maintaining, paying for two Bay Area homes, the first which I regretted event though it seemingly met every attribute on my “checklist” (much like a relationship where the checks may not sum up to bliss.) I’ve also spent most of my life renting and hopping around, so I know both the thrill of landing in a new place and the even bigger thrill of calling the landlord to report “OMG the sink is overflowing, send a plumber.” For me, the answer is “all of the above.”Even though that wasn’t one of the choices.

To achieve A through D means a strategy for buying at the right place and right time. To elaborate:

A. No landlord – Sure you’ve got neighbors and the people waiting for your mortgage payment (unless you’re one of those cash buyers I hear about).

B. Peace of mind – You’ve got somewhere to go back to, if you’re a wanderer, and somewhere to grow old without the possibility of eviction.

C. Investment – Do yourself a favor and hold out for a place that has some potential to rent part of it. Even if your house doesn’t appreciate unless you’re located somewhere with a proliferation of rentals, having the option to make extra cash if need be will help with B. And….

“If you receive rental income from the rental of a dwelling unit, there are certain rental expenses you may deduct on your tax return. These expenses may include mortgage interest, property tax, operating expenses, depreciation, and repairs.” The IRS

D. Decorating/home design – If D is important to you, especially painting, know if there’s an HOA that controls what you can and can’t remodel or even colors you can use. Or if buying a historic property also know if there are guidelines (or fees) around what you can and can’t remodel.

Ownership as Freedom

So to re-frame my “all of the above” statement, when you strategize the right property purchase, you’re buying freedom above all else:

A. Freedom to live how you like without constraints from the owner.

B. Freedom from uncertainty.

C. Freedom from less passive ways of making money along with the ability to exchange your home to enjoy world travels.

D. Freedom to express yourself and create an environment you’ll love.

Yes buying the wrong property can be more albatross than soaring eagle. Yes renting gives you the freedom to put your stuff in storage and hit the road with no expenses other than your basics (plus the storage unit). The nomadic life can be amazing for many. But if you need some kind of grounding, crafting a strategy to buy a home that can also pay for itself can give you even more feeling of freedom to truly enjoy your journey.