Personal Finance

Is Buying a House Worth It?

“Buy a house, cause it’s an ASSET.”

You’ve probably heard this line before, perhaps from a baby who boomed. It sounds good, as rent can be expensive and just tosses money out the door to someone else. Who wants to do THAT?

In reality, home ownership less of a prize than your elderly benefactors (read: mortgage salesmen) will let out. While exceptions exist, a house is often a net financial loss due to misconceptions about what it entails.

To begin, we have entry expenditures. These will include the time investment of looking at potential homes, paying for inspections (home, radon, and chimney are just a few), and closing costs. Together this can run $4-5k, if not more.

Now, if you don’t put down 20 percent on the mortgage, you’ll have to deal with PMI, and should the bank say you don’t have to pay with them, it’s probably just fancy calculus. Your monthly expenses will include the loan principal, usually homeowners insurance, utilities, PMI, and interest.

“Yeah but you can DEDUCT your mortgage interest.”

Hehe, nice try. Due to changes enacted in the Tax Jobs and Cut Ass legislation signed by Trumpy, you have to itemize to receive the deduction, and in many cases the Standard Deduction will be a better deal. Key point here: the deduction is not a dollar-for-dollar benefit, so you can’t assume massive proceeds.

Then we have upkeep and repair. A house I recently looked at came back with so many problems it would have required about $70,000 in improvements to be worth what I initially offered. It was “AS IS,” of course. You either make those changes as a homeowner, or sell for far below what you want years later. Houses are like cars; they don’t usually age well with constant use.

To be fair, it’s possible to use the pass-through rules to save on taxes if you rent out rooms, and there might still be a tax credit for solar panels if that sounds desirable, so it’s not all bad.

But it isn’t the dream they talk about.