Many of us grew up with the idea of the Great Australian Dream. We idealised home ownership as a means to a better life and security. And considering that 69% of Australians are homeowners, that dream is still alive and well.
But is owning a home for everyone? Is it really the best way to show the world that you made it?
Times have changed and home ownership may not be the default best answer for all people, especially young adults trying to navigate their way through transitioning financial times.
If you are mulling over the Great Australian Dream and considering home ownership, there are several things to consider.
Owning your own home will most certainly give you a sense of stability. Your own home is a place that you can personalise and comes with an automatic sense of belonging. You can make your home a place to retreat from all of the other madness happening in the world. And because it’s yours, you are in control of it. That sense of control is very empowering and can serve to improve your quality of life.
Furthermore, when you own your home you do not have to worry about living under someone else’s rules or with someone else’s conditions. You don’t have to vacate when a lease is up and, generally, you shouldn’t have to worry about uncomfortable living conditions.
Most people understand that owning a home is an investment. Instead of renting and pouring money into your landlord’s property, you build equity and profitability when you pay your mortgage and put money into your own.
Furthermore, landlords often charge more to rent a home than they pay in mortgage costs. So, many people find that they can save on monthly payments in buying their own home and building their own investment portfolios.
People who own their home could be eligible for tax benefits that are not accessible to those who rent or live with their parents. These benefits are available while you live in your house and when/if you decide to sell. You also have to option to rent out any extra space in your home to earn extra income.
When dreaming of buying a home, don’t make the mistake of romanticising potential costs associated with home ownership. While many people find that their monthly mortgage is cheaper than the cost of paying rent, mortgages are not the only financial obligation that homeowners face.
In order to buy a home, you should be prepared to put down a sizeable down payment. Down payments range anywhere from 5% to 20%. And considering the average cost of homes across Australia is over $400,000, you could be looking at up to an $80,000 down payment.
With a $400,000 home, you will also need to pay associated administrative costs for buying the home and securing the loan, as well as interest. Over the life of a loan that size, you should expect to pay at least $700,000 for your home.
Then, there are always emergency repair and maintenance costs that come with being a homeowner that you must consider.
While owning a home is an investment, you will not get to realise that investment until you sell your home. In the meantime, your principal payments and down payment money will be tied up in the home. So, while you might have $100,000 in equity in your house, you can’t actually use any of that money until someone buys your home from you.
Buying a home requires a considerable financial investment and means that you will be tied to your home. If you get a job out of town, decide you don’t like the house as much as you thought, or can’t get along with your neighbors – you are essentially stuck with the home until you can sell it. And, if you decide to sell your home soon after you buy it, you stand to lose a considerable amount of money.
When thinking about buying a house, think about your personal circumstances. Consider how your present situation and future plans could affect the home buying and ownership experience. Here are a few items to focus on:
Think about your life circumstances. How often to do you change jobs? Do you get bored and move apartments and locations frequently? Do you have aspirations for world travel?
If you are not ready to settle down your lifestyle, buying a home may not be for you. It requires a substantial time and financial investment that you must really be committed to.
Also, consider your tangible skills and problem solving abilities. Home owning can come with a host of unforeseen issues. If you have some basic carpentry, plumbing, or electrician skills, you might be able to address some of these issues on your own – or at least know how to go about getting them fixed.
On the other hand, if your go to solution for most things is to call your friends or parents, owning a home will likely get overwhelming very quickly.
Successful home ownership depends a lot on your personality type. If you are proactive, responsible, and stable, you will likely be prepared to handle the obligations that come with owning a home.
However, if you know that you are more of a procrastinator and are not very disciplined, then home ownership may not be ideal for you.
Think about your financial situation and be realistic about what you can actually afford. Just because a bank is willing to finance a certain amount of money, that doesn’t mean taking such a loan is always in your best interests. It’s important to balance your lifestyle needs and your mortgage payments.
Make sure that applying a down payment won’t completely deplete your savings, as you may need additional capital for unforeseen repairs once you move into your new home.
Also, if you are set on buying a home, make sure that you’re able to afford it today. Don’t buy one with expectations of being able to afford it in the future. Raises and higher job statuses are not guaranteed, but after you buy a home, your mortgage and other associated costs will be.