Home ownership has been a been a way of life for my wife and me. We’ve learned a few lessons over the years, and we have seen our share of successes and failures in both the purchasing and maintaining of our homes. With this in mind let me share with you five lessons I’ve learned from buying and owning my own home:
1. Buying is cheaper than renting.
Let me be frank: This isn’t a universal rule. Before you decide whether it’s better to rent or buy, do your homework.
With that out of the way, I can honestly say that buying was a much better option than renting for us. We found we could make house-payments and pay property taxes on a three-bedroom home and do it for a fraction of the cost it would take us to rent an efficiency apartment. That’s right: an efficiency apartment.
The housing market was flat in that area, and the renting market was booming. So home ownership made more sense in our situation.
2. Great values are out there.
My wife and I have now owned two houses, and we got both for pennies on the dollar. Our first was a fixer-upper. We secured it for about half its value, because the former owner had begun demolition but had never finished it.
When I took a pastorate in California, we sold our house in Ohio and looked for another. Our second house was a four bedroom, two bath house that had been on the market for two years before we bought it. No one wanted it because it was built on a steep slope, and the driveway resembled a slip-and-slide in the winter when it snowed. We ended up paying less than half of what it was originally sold for just a few years before.
3. Think to the future.
This is just a word of advice on buying that new home:Think before you buy. We always looked at the neighborhood to see if was a place we could raise our kids. We also made sure the house would support what we envisioned our family would need. This gave us flexibility later and helped us develop a long-term plan for our lives.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
This one could be reworded, “When something breaks, don’t panic.” I found that even a mechanically challenged person as myself could fix some of the simpler problems around the house. Buying a fixer-upper as a first house pretty much broke me of the telephone-the-repairman syndrome. This is quite a time and money saver.
5. Fiscal responsibility pays off.
We made sure we paid off our home early. We did this by putting a few dollars down each month on the principle. The practice of paying ahead led to more disciplined spending habits in other parts of our lives as well. What did home-ownership do for us in this area? We ended up paying off our home in less than a decade. Pretty good for a couple who were living at the poverty line for most of their marriage!